Murphy Mac - Screencasts and Tutorials » Posts in 'iTunes' category

iTunes Match Album Art

iTunes Match Deleted Track

A track deleted from iCloud but still present in the local library.

Murphy’s obsessions come and go. Recently it was the wrong album art showing up on my iPhone. Fixing my Pretenders album art only to see it revert to the wrong image a few minutes later got frustrating quickly. Until I realized the cloud-based Match versions of my album art were coming down and overwriting my locally stored tracks.

If you don’t know how iTunes Match behaves you could run into some problems. Here’s what worked for me:

  • Sign into a Mac or PC with a local user account that does not have your music collection stored locally in iTunes. You could create an additional user on your Mac (or PC) or do what I did: sign into a dummy  Windows account running on a virtual machine.
  • Open iTunes. Ideally there won’t be any local music stored there.
  • Sign into iTunes using the AppleID used for iTunes Match.
  • You should see all your music that resides in the cloud. Delete the song that needs the artwork updated. This will delete the version stored on Apple’s servers.
  • Once you’re done with the previous step you can sign off the dummy Mac or PC user account.
  • Sign into your Mac or PC account where the local copy of your music resides.
  • Fix the album artwork by selecting the track or tracks you want to update, then right-click the track(s) and select Get Info.
  • You can delete the existing artwork on the Artwork tab and add a different image. Close the info panel.
  • Right click the corrected track and select Add to iCloud.  Done.
Updating iTunes Match

Once the artwork has been fixed you can send the track back to iTunes Match.

Why do we need to use the dummy PC or Mac account? Because the process for deleting a cloud-based copy of a song presents a complication when there’s a local version of the track. ITunes forces you to delete the local copy of a song before it allows you to delete the cloud-based version. You might not want to delete the local version – doing so would wipe out meta information like the play count.  By deleting only the cloud version our local track and its meta data are preserved.

The obsession with album art has passed for now.  When I see some pixelated album covers on my phone again it’ll be back, but for now it’s forgotten.


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Video From iPhone Straight to Apple TV

rubeNote: This was posted before Airplay. But it still applies to the old Apple TV.
I was thinking it would be nice to watch a video I’d just recorded with my iPhone on the Apple TV. But it’s kind of a pain to do that. I’d have to run the iPhone upstairs, plug it in, wait for it to sync, add the video to a playlist…

Alternative: I could upload the video to YouTube, but you have to fill out the fields to upload and it seems sometimes my Apple TV loses track of my YouTube account. Or at least loses access.

So I’ve got a Rube Goldberg alternative that makes it really simple from a user perspective – once you’ve done the upfront legwork. Just email the video to yourself, if it’s short enough. Let your Mac automatically grab the video from your email and drop it into iTunes.  My Apple TV seems to immediately sync on its own when new content is added to a Playlist that’s set to sync.

I’m using a pretty straightforward AppleScript and a rule configured in my Mac’s Mail program. Here’s what happens:

  • I email the video to myself with the subject atv.
  • The email arrives.
  • A Mail-based rule sees the subject and kicks off an AppleScript that copies the video file to the Automatically Add to iTunes folder in my iTunes Music folder.
  • The video gets added to my iTunes Library.
  • The video is added to a Smart Playlist.
  • The Apple TV is set to sync with the Smart Playlist.
  • The video is synced to my Apple TV.

That looks like a lot of stuff but the Mac will do all the work. There are only a couple things you need to set up:

  • Create a Smart Playlist and tell Apple TV to sync with it
  • Create a rule in mail and have it run the AppleScript when a matching email comes in.

Then all you do is email yourself the video. If you open Finder and look around in your iTunes Music folder you’ll see a folder called Automatically Add to iTunes. Anything that gets dropped in there gets added to your library, so that’s where the script copies the file.

I threw this script together quickly, there’s nothing fancy, no error checking – so feel free to post any enhancements.   My intention is to provide an example of what can be done easily with AppleScript and Mail rules.  It might help someone accomplish other tasks similar to this one.

Here’s a link to the script and screenshots of a Mail rule and sample Smart Playlist settings.   The script was saved as a text file.  You need to change the path in the third line of script to reflect your user name. You also need to save it as an AppleScript using AppleScript Editor.

In the Mail rule you need to change the path to where you saved your AppleScript.

Mail Rule Screenshot:

Smart Playlist Screenshot:

You might come up with something more sophisticated for the Smart Playlist…

Finally – here’s a look at the AppleScript, which you can download.


Other tricks with Mail: Pick a Playlist by EmailRetrieve a File by EmailMail a File Dropped in a Finder Folder

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Restore the Master Library Container in iTunes

LibraryRemember when iTunes used to have a Library container that you could select as the basis for a search of ALL your content? That was nice. Now if you want to search for a TV show in the library you need to click on the TV Shows node before initiating a search.

If there were a keyboard shortcut to select each container I’d use it, but I don’t see any such shortcuts. Thanks to the king of AppleScripts for iTunes I’ve pulled together some pieces that give me a solution.

Hidden Preferences If you really miss the all-inclusive Library container you can add it back into iTunes using an AppleScript application provided by Doug Adams called Change Hidden iTunes Preferences. From there you can script selection of that container or you can go a step further: I’m using TextExpander to kick off a script that facilitates iTunes searching. The script can select the Library container or go on to select a container like TV Shows, Movies, or Podcasts. The extra step is only required if you prefer to have search results limited by media type.

The commands to select the Library container were provided by Doug. When hooks for selecting other containers weren’t readily apparent (maybe they’re there and I didn’t see them) I moved on to another strategy: Selecting the Library and then scripting arrow key presses to move down the tree. So far that works ok. Last step: Place the cursor in the search box. Doug’s page on automating keystrokes helps there too.

scriptThe simple script, shown in the screenshot, can be kicked off with a keyboard shortcut. For me it means not using the mouse, and that’s worth the effort. Still, the script isn’t working 100% of the time. For example, if the Library node is already selected it fails. Needs a little work…

Murphy's Web Host | Permalink

iTunes Overhaul?

iTunesThis post started as a simple screencast reveling in the simplicity that was early iTunes. Remember the multi-button? Click on a CD and the button became an Importer. Click on a playlist and it was a Burner. The interface was fantastically simple and surely helped iPod mania spread like wildfire.

That interface element is long gone. In its place Apple has added new innovations including DJ, Genius, remote speakers, and of course – video. It’s come a long way – so far that it’s hard to believe folders for organizing our playlists were once on the still-not-there list.iTunes 4

Now on the brink of iTunes 9 the murmurs have begun about what to expect. Topping the list is social networking. Also likely: The ability to arrange your iPhone / iPod touch icons on your computer instead of playing the tile game on your iPhone. Far less likely: DVD ripping.

If you watched the screencast and you appreciate a good interface you have to wonder what happened to iTunes. It’s become somewhat scattered. And you have to wonder at what point Apple realized TV Shows and Movies would reside in the iTunes Library.

iTunes could improve in a few areas:

  • Why can’t I search Movies, Music, and TV Shows at once? Clicking the node seems a wasted step, especially when search results could easily be grouped by container.
  • Adding information for imported video, like episode information, is messy. This is one of the places where iTunes shows it wasn’t built for video.
  • Why isn’t there something like the Migration Assistant to help someone move iTunes to a new computer? I would never expect anyone to be able to accomplish this feat without help from someone who reads stuff like this.
  • Why can’t I remove a watched episode from a playlist from my Apple TV? Or my iPhone? So it doesn’t come back on the next sync.
  • Why does syncing my first generation iPod touch take twenty-five minutes?

I’m not saying iTunes is a disaster. Some of the features are great. I use an Apple TV, an EyeTV, an iPhone, and an Airport Express. I remote control iTunes from the iPhone. I stream from the Apple TV directly to the Airport Express. It’s all good – and they could take it further. How about Starbucks running iTunes in DJ mode and letting customers vote songs up the queue with their iPhones?

But at some point iTunes needs an overhaul. Apple should take a look at tools like PowerTunes and the massive AppleScript library at Doug’s Scripts. They’ll find functions that should be built into iTunes. Maybe they can give it a better name too.  The screencast is short, take a look.

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AirFoil Adds Features

Murphy uses AirFoil to send audio from a web browser to an Airport Express or an Apple TV.   It’s great for listening to Pandora throughout the house, with various speakers all in sync.  There’s an Apple TV connected to the stereo and an Airport Express connected to a Tivoli radio in the kitchen.  AirFoil can also send audio to another Mac, like the G5 upstairs that has decent speakers connected.  Three sets of speakers all playing one stream throughout the house.

Airfoil keeps getting better.  Recently it gained the ability to ‘hijack’ audio from an application that’s already running.  Previously, you had to start AirFoil, and then launch the application from AirFoil to send its audio to another device.  Not anymore – AirFoil can access already-running applications now.  And they’ve added an iPhone app.  So Murphy can bring a portable radio out on the porch – connect an iPod touch – and listen to the same stream that’s playing in the house.  In a nutshell, it turns an iPhone or touch into a battery powered Airport Express in terms of music streaming.

The software is rock solid, no drop-outs.  The interface is simple and unobtrusive.

Using Quicktime Murphy could listen to the aapl quarterly conference call over AirFoil.  Sending the stream into the kitchen beats lugging a laptop in there.  It’s great for Songza, Pandora, YouTube – or whatever audio you want to transmit.  You can even transmit an iTunes stream to your iPhone or touch – enhancing its multi-speaker functionality.

The iPhone / touch application is free.   The desktop software is $25.  AirFoil for Mac / Windows.  There’s a bundle with both for $40.

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