I removed iTunes from my dock tonight

Yup, iTunes is outta here! Not because I don’t use iTunes to play music anymore but because I have a new way of launching it.

When I listen to music, I prefer to listen to full albums rather than random shuffles, I also quite like the interruption of the music stopping after an album finishes (it reminds me to take a break or at least makes me think about what I want to listen to next) so the ‘flow on to the next album’ style of iTunes default library mode doesn’t suit me very well.

Luckily, I found CoverFlow, a gorgeous little piece of freeware which really gets past a limitation of digital music that has existed since we all started ripping music onto our computers. At the time when mp3 really started to take off, finding and displaying album art was the last thing on anyones mind and while most media players now support in some form it is usually a second class citizen when it comes to choosing music to play, shunned in favour of text based lists.

iTunes List

Lists do the job but the human brain is significantly better at association with images than text and so it is a poor imitation of that old low-tech CD rack. I don’t know about you but wasn’t sitting down in front of your record box and flicking through it a thoroughly satisfying experience?

Enter CoverFlow, the virtual CD rack! There is no way to describe this app properly with words, so I made a little screencast.

I love it, so much that I have removed iTunes from the dock completely.

One exception to the rule of album art being a second class citizen is the iTunes music store. I will spare you my views on DRM and especially AAC DRM but the visual format of the music store shows that someone at apple understands this issue and the pages on the store are as much about the album and artist art as the album name and track listing.

Anyway, try CoverFlow if you haven’t already and go low tech again, it feels good.

Note: I just got told about a feature of iTunes I didn’t know about, in the library view if you click the Browse button then you get a filter view where the selection in the main library window filters down depending on your selection of genre, artist and album above and this basically does the same as CoverFlow . I won’t go to deep into the poor UI design of making a button with the same look and feel do such fundamentally different actions (Burn and Import are OK together because they are the same class of command, just available in different contexts but browse? Where is the connection!). But thanks for the tip anyway Eifion.

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13 responses to “I removed iTunes from my dock tonight

  1. How did you capture a screencast into an FLV!? It’s good to see some apps making use of the power of CoreImage, I wonder if CS3 is going to integrate more with Tiger?

  2. I guess I would add that I listen to my music the same way you do, except I select the album I want to listen by typing its name in iTune’s search field.

    Also, if you download Onyx, you can change the little iTunes buttons that link to the music store into a link to the browse button you talk about. You just have to click one of these, and only te corresponding album gets selected. Then you listen to it the way you like.

    I got tired of CoverFlow because it was a bit laggy (PowerMac G4 1 Ghz…) and I didn’t put all the covers in all my library’s songs.

  3. This is pretty nice. Full screen view is gorgeous. But it is very hard on my 1,5 G4. Too hard.

  4. Have you clicked on the ‘browse’ button in iTunes? You can listen to single albums that way. It sounds like you’re doing what many people (including me) did which is assume you can only listen via the ‘everything in the library’ mode or using playlists.

    Also, try one of ‘Doug’s Applescripts’ for random album choices. I customised one so I can listen to a random album I’ve not heard in the past year, for example.

  5. I subscribe to the del.icio.us popular feed for the mac tag (http://del.icio.us/popular/mac) and I just noticed tonight that CoverFlow made into the top 10 there today…

    Coincidence, or do I let myself believe it was because I linked it? How big is my ego!! Must be coincidence :)

  6. @Kroc:

    The FLV is created by Google Video (video.google.com), it takes them a couple of days to process the .MOV onto their site but it is free once you have done it and the flash player is pretty nice and should work for anyone regardless of OS and browser.

  7. I dont mind the browse functionality, I just much much prefer looking through album covers to choose music :)

  8. Looks good and another informative post for us stuck with PCs wait for our first mac (my first iMac is due just after the world cup finishes).

    Anyway, you really are the macman of human kindness. (sorry)

  9. “Anyway, you really are the macman of human kindness. (sorry)”

    Very nice :) I appreciated it anyway :D

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  13. burnlounge is an alternative to iTunes as well. it seems that the artists have also gotten better payouts from burnlounge than their traditional contract. grassroots forever!