Why you may not want to upgrade to iTunes 12.2

Kirk McElhearn
6 July, 2015
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iTunes gets criticiSed a lot. For its interface, for its overabundance of features, and even for its name. (It hasn’t just managed ‘tunes’ for a long time.) Since I write the Ask the iTunes Guy column at the US Macworld, I have opportunities to delve into the intricacies of iTunes, and field questions from befuddled users.

I generally accept iTunes’ quirks, though I don’t hesitate to point out the most egregious problems in the app. But I update to every new version, in part because I write about the software, but also because iTunes is an app I use a lot, to manage and listen to my Brobdingnagian music collection.

Until now.

iTunes 12.2 is a disaster. The Apple Music features are confusing at best, the way iTunes Match and Apple Music work together is problematic and, worst of all, many users are finding that it destroys music libraries.

I did update iTunes on my MacBook Pro: my test computer. It has a small iTunes library, which, together with my iTunes Store purchases, comes to about 9000 tracks. But I won’t upgrade my iMac, which is where my large music library (around 65,000 tracks) is stored.

The biggest problem with iTunes 12.2 is the iCloud Music Library feature, which combines iTunes Match and Apple Music, as well as your purchased tracks, giving you access to music across devices. This is a great idea, in theory, but iTunes Match has been fraught with problems since its launch, and the iCloud Music Library is simply broken. On my MacBook Pro, iTunes messed up my album artwork, changed tags for a lot of my music, and converted many of my Matched and Uploaded tracks to Apple Music files, which, if re-downloaded, contain DRM.

It was bad enough when music I synced to my iPhone displayed different album artwork, and when different tags started appearing on my music after syncing. But this is too much.

My music library is sacred. I’ve ripped a few thousand CDs, tagged them very carefully, and added artwork to every track in my iTunes library. Changing my metadata or changing my artwork is a violation of my music library. It’s as though someone came into my house and rearranged all my books, substituting paperbacks for some of the hardcovers, and replacing some books by versions in different languages.


apple music album artworkKIRK MCELHEARN

iCloud Music Library has replaced the existing artwork with covers that are wrong and seemingly out of left field.

Sure, call me obsessive. Back in the day, I was one of those guys in the record store in High Fidelity. I love music, it’s very important to me, and the time I’ve spent maintaining my music library shouldn’t be erased by some faulty software. Especially because there is no reason for iTunes to change tags or artwork – none at all.

I didn’t think I’d recommend that users not upgrade to a new version of iTunes, but this time I will. If you have a carefully curated music library, manually tagged, with painstakingly chosen or scanned album artwork, stay away from iTunes 12.2. Especially if you plan to use iTunes Match, Apple Music or iCloud Music Library.

If, however, you don’t have much music, it probably won’t affect you. You may find that iTunes 12.2, with Apple Music, is just fine. It’s probably fine for a lot of people, but it’s toxic for music libraries that have been maintained with care.

Apple, you’ve let me down.


5 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Me says:

    And the icon is the ugliest thing since ios7

  2. Paul Robinson says:

    Great review!


    65,000 tracks!

    Wow! How do you keep track of what you have?

    Let’s see… at an average of 2 minutes a track (likely too little), that would be 130,000 minutes or

    over 2,000 hours! It would take you 80+ days of non-stop listening!

    Jules Verne’s people made it around the world in that time and they ate and slept on the way!

  3. Jamie says:

    Welcome to the new “you WILL do it our way” Apple.

    It’s been a fun ride but it’s over now, I want to have control Apple, not for you to have control.

    I’ve already ditched my MacBook and moved back to a PC.

    Now I just wish I’d spent my hard earned money on a new Android phone rather than an iPhone 6!

  4. Laith says:

    I believe that the last good version of iTunes was 10. Podcasts were still respected and there was the DJ feature where people could all vote on which track was to come up next. The artwork viewer was in the bottom left and you could resize it to watch video podcast. And the feature I miss the most, searchers in playlists were sticky. Meaning that if I had a playlist that had a heap of tracks in it but I wanted to listen to only one artists, I could search for that artists in that list and then start playing, then go to another list or iPod settings and the next searched track would play, not the next track in the playlist.

  5. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    Apple has pretty much always been a “our way of the highway” company. But talking to a lot of long-time Mac users, the loss of control and hiding of options in order to simplify the interface is driving a few of them nuts. I’m not sure it’s enough to get me to abandon the platform but it can get a little annoying when something you relied on disappears or is hidden.

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