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Ask HN: Do you hate iTunes?
50 points by rare455 on Feb 13, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 73 comments
Hey guys,

Since iTunes is the only option Apple gives us for loading media onto our iPhone, iPad or iPod touch from our Macs, and it limits the audio and video file formats we can upload – I can honestly say that I hate iTunes.

If only Apple made it a bit smoother, and not as big. Right not it's super uncomfortable having a Music store, a music player and iOS device manager all in one app.

Now, I was always wondering if this was just me or do many others hate it as well?

No. I don't hate iTunes.

It could certainly be better but I wouldn't say I hate it. If they improved the loading speed of iTunes and the App Store it would be fine. It's very similar to the Steam Apps in some regards (store and library in one).

I do hate the fact that ONLY iTunes can be used to move stuff onto an iPhone though. That's the part I hate.

If they broke it up into small parts I'd be so happy though...

tl;dr iTunes is a little worse than meh. I hate the fact that it's the only think we can use.

Oh, yeah, the Steam and iTunes stores are both abysmal! Slow loading, no tabbed browsing, poorly designed views -- it all gets in the way of spending money.

That said, I do quite like the iTunes album cover view.

Why aren't there any alternatives ?

I remember fiddling with some tools on Ubuntu to put some music on an iPhone - like, half a decade ago. Is that now blocked somehow ?

There are alternatives. Apple has chosen to make it so that the alternatives require not using an iOS device. But there are alternatives.

this app was in Top 3 on product hunt http://www.producthunt.com/posts/waltr and they say it can transfer any movie or music file to your iPhone w/o iTunes

Yes, I dislike the whole iTunes thing all together. I'd like to be able to just plug it in and move files around like it's a drive. (like my android phone) I also really dislike iTunes a media player on my MacBook. Love my mackbook over all, but iTunes as a media player sucks. Main complaints is that I can't just point it to a folder and have it load into a library without it copying files around, so now I have music in two places wasting space. Maybe there is a way I can change that in the settings, but that shouldn't be the default behavior.

In iTunes' preferences uncheck "Keep my music organized" And it'll stop copying your music into the Music->iTunes folder.

Yes, I hate it so much. I have had many discussions about how great other Apple products are and how frustrating iTunes is. It's like they are made by different companies.

They effectively are or seem to be, whether literally via outsourcing work on specific apps, as some commenters here have hinted in the past, or simply as a result of insane internal compartmentalization at Apple. The end result is quite poor in many cases.

Well, I just get annoyed because it keeps saying there isn't enough space to sync when there's plenty, and I have to spend 3 hours wiping and rebuilding the entire contents of the device every time I want to sync.

I mean, who doesn't? Sometimes if I accidentally hit a media key, it opens iTunes, which is slow as hell and I usually force-quit before it can fully load because it takes so long. When I do have to deal with iTunes, it's always this lumbering beast that I want to exit as soon as possible.

YESSS!!! I hate iTunes, as well as the general idea of hiding the filesystem on mobile device from the user.

The way to approach iTunes is what is its functionality, the pros and cons of its actions, and whether it accomplishes it well.

Functionality-wise, it works. People should remember the days of when devices would be USB'ed into a computer and not work. I can hook up an iPhone, an iPod touch, and iPod shuffle and the system instantly recognizes them, checks them for any discrepancies between the two and will allow me to sync and backup. I cannot say the same for my Windows Phone 8.1 which getting to a mass storage state requires planetary alignments and a passing comet (Microsoft, please fix this!).


-Your device is recognized, has a graphic showing you the device and provides you with great information on the contents of the device. You can also make changes and back up individual game state files in the iTunes.

-Backups and restores are simple.

-You can transfer photos from the file system to your hard drive outside of iTunes.

-You can keep track of authorized and non-authorized devices on your own computer without having to go through a web portal.


-iTunes is constantly changing the user interface between versions and makes it a learning curve period of about four tries before learning where the buttons are and the path to accomplishing tasks. All of this done without any easy to follow instructions.

-The first install of iTunes on a new system is great, however, each additional update places a small unnoticeable mess on my computer (in terms of start up time and interaction), by the time I am on the tenth version update, I am questioning the usefulness of the program.

-Music transfer between devices and ripping from CD's has a steep Choose Your Own Adventure feeling to it. Ripping a CD meant you had to choose between the AAC and MP3 format, while you can change these later, it is a pain. Transfer between devices has a prompt on whether you own the music. Compare this transfer within the Android or Windows Phone mass storage method and it is simply a drag and drop in the explorer file system.

Summary: iTunes creates a walled off system, but accepting it is much better than the messes that were preceding it.

Tbh, when I bought my iPad and you didn't need to register it via iTunes I was relieved. For 3 years I didn't connect it to the computer so it never touched iTunes - this is how much I hate iTunes.

+ I am always afraid that if you sync with iTunes (yeah, soooo 2007) that I am going to lose something somewhere, a file, a tune, image or - for sure - a PDF in iBooks.

I've had so many things "lost" that way. Without warning, or a summary or an opportunity to make my decision.

iTunes sucks, big time.

And yet if you don't, you risk losing purchases when Apple loses the distribution rights to something. The little cloud download button gives people a false sense of security, but I've lost a lot of music and TV shows by not keeping backups on my hard drive. Apple really pushes this feature, but when you get stung by a removal, iTunes support will say "what, didn't you read the fine print?"

Didn't know about that. Thanks for telling me.

It still sucks though.

Jein. (Thats a very german cross between yes and no)

iTunes has a fast search through my large library and it is very easy to reach the thing you want. I don't create playlists, but from time to time return to my player, search for something and hit "play", closing the window afterwards.

iTunes is not perfect at that, but _every other player_ is worse. Either, closing the window kill the program (lackluster Linux/Win-Ports), the search is slow or just not very central the interface. For example, VOX wants me to search for a song and then hit "Enter" twice before playing it, with a fancy, but slow animation. Searching for albums is even slower, I'd prefer if they just presented me with album matches immediately.

So, the outcome of my eternal search is: iTunes is not a great music player, but every other on OS X is worse.

i think you're missing the key argument which is that playing music is just one of the many things iTunes does. Those of us who dislike it rarely hate it as much for its music playing as for the fact that it's a file transfer app (to get files into and out of ios apps), it's a iOS backup and sync manager, it's an OS updater, its a store, it's a music player, and probably 3 other things i've forgotten.

I'm not missing it, I'm ignoring it. I'd be fully okay with iTunes dropping all that stuff or using something different - if there were another alternative.

The UI is really, really bad. Every time I sync one of my devices I have to search for the widget that gets me to the place where I can search for my content. The software makes arbitrary decisions on what type of content goes where, and honestly this shouldn't matter.

Music is music, a book is a book, an app is an app. Just provide a default structure and have the device figure out what's what -- we've been doing this with file systems for decades.

iTunes doesn't scale. A linear list of all of my music? Those books? Doesn't scale. Ordering a list by title / artist is clumsy after fifty entries, and unworkable past a few hundred.

I'm really surprised that Jobs didn't rip the iTunes team a new one. Or maybe he did, and this is the best they could do.

Agreed. The UI is horrible and getting worse with every release. What used to be a decent interface for digging through Genre -> Artists -> Albums is now hidden behind super kludgey nonsense. To get a fresh install of iTunes into a usable state with a music library of any reasonable size is a huge pain.

The idea that the default interface should basically just be a window with big album art is probably the worst thing they ever did.

I really like it. Easy sync with iOS. Not only music, but also contacts, calendar, all that jazz. Even though I use Firefox for browsing on OS X, I still find it handy to use safari for browsing where I left from iOS. Transcoding from FLAC to ALAC is easy and fast with XLD[1]. There's the nice visualizer from SoundSpectrum called WhiteCap[2] (free version is included). Organization is simple.

[1]http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/23430/x-lossless-decoder [2]https://www.soundspectrum.com/whitecap/

I can't say that I hate it but I don't really like iTunes. The problem for me is it is too slow, has too much features and always come out with annoying popups such as "iPad contains diagnostic information...", "A new iPhone software version... " and "Sign into the iTunes store". I quit using it as a music player some months ago: now I use mpd (music player daemon) with ncmpcpp (a client) and iTunes to only sync/backup my iPad. mpd is great for me: you control it with the client you like, it loads his music database from a directory, you make playlists and just listen.

The whole interface is incredible unintuitive. Especially if you come from Windows.

Can't say I hate it, I just had a bad experience with it yesterday. I wanted to buy an album, that's only on sale on iTunes. The following happened:

    I could not buy it on the web - I have to download the program!
    The .exe I was given did not work on my PC - I needed the 64bit one, which was hidden in some support article
    In the setup I selected English, but the program launched in Spanish instead
    The program froze when I changed the language
    Nowhere could I see what format/quality the music would be
I did not end up buying that album.

On my Mac, I have no problem with it. Yes, it's a bit bloated because it does too many things, but I don't feel limited by it. Other than FLAC files, which I have a converter for, it plays everything I deal with regularly.

On my Win 7 32-bit PC, it's a steaming pile of something you don't want to step in. It crashes on startup. It crashes when playing music. It crashes when accessing the iTunes store. It even crashes when it's just sitting there doing nothing.

If Apple wants to streamline it I hope they start with the Windows version first, but that's only my opinion.

I used to love iTunes back in the 10.3/10.4 days, but now it just feels too bloated to me. It seems like Apple has tried to do too much with the program over the years and now is the quintessential jack of all trades, master of none. The entire iTunes/App store experience is really confusing to me. For example, I tried to rent Snowpiercer before it was out on Netflix, and the process was painstakingly long and confusing. Having to wait to download the entire HD movie before being able to view it didn't help anything either...

I actually like iTunes - I havnt been able to do what I want from a music player and would be happy to hear of suggestions!

I need ALAC (can be converted if necessary), AIFF, FLAC

I need syncing (eg if I change stars (1-5) on the device, it needs to sync to master)

Need to be able to listen to and rate from either mac, PC or a mobile device

Scenario: I have my songs on my ipod and take it to work, and listen and rate songs while I'm at work. I sync, then take it home, and it syncs with my home library on my mac.

Or I listen while I am out and about and rate songs.

Using itunes makes me sad. I wouldn't say it was a terrible product but it has way too many features all of them at a mediocre level, which amounts to a poor user experience

I always hated how stupid it makes adding a few songs to an existing device. Half the time it wants to re-sync everything and wipe the device while doing it.

Avoid iTunes with extreme prejudice.

Maybe I'm a cynic but that could be the point ?

Make it too cumbersome for your users to put an mp3 from their pc on their iPhone and they might just buy the song again from iTunes ?

No, just ill-informed. You can re-download your purchases (which are DRM free) from the iTunes store on to your device. There is absolutely no need to use iTunes to manage an iOS based device. Not for registration, backing up or adding media.

It was so bad when i got my first iPod nano (2009) that I quickly actually gave up on using my iPod. It was such a faff getting music on it (using a windows based laptop) that I stopped changing my music and soon I lost interest in my iPod all together (couldn't be bothered to change the music). Later on, I've started using spotify on my android phone and it fully replaced my need of iTunes/apple products (iPod).

I find it works really well for listening to music in album format and getting more albums from the iTunes store. The store integration is well done and I love the (newish) UI that reacts to the colors of the album artwork. For listening to music that is not in album format and/or which you didn't purchase via iTunes and for any other tasks they have bolted on, such as device management, I find it not so great.

I only use iTunes to play mp3s on my machine and manually sync mp3s on my phone. It also does backups of the phone.

With that use case in mind, I'm very satisfied.

However, I stay away from videos, apps, sync or whatever else they shoved into this app. I don't have a compelling reason to use these features because they're either accessible through the iOS devices directly or iCloud (when it works).


On Windows at least there are some iTunes alternatives for loading stuff onto iDevices. You'll have to google around for them, but the couple I tried on my niece's iPhone worked fine.

I don't iDevice on my rMBP, and I think I accidentally launched iTunes once before I remembered to install VLC. Other than that, I simply pretend like it doesn't exist.

(being Android all around makes life super easy)

Nope. Every piece of software has its limitations. I learned to use it, accept its limitations, and moved on with my life. I have better things to do than wrestle with a software application or expend time and energy actively disliking it. It will not change, but is necessary for daily use. I got over it.

I cannot tell you just how much I fucking loathe iTunes.

The Windows version is bad, but I hate the OSX version about as much.

I'd be fine with iTunes if Apple gave me an opt out. Even if it had a big sign saying "after this you're on your own; you get absolutely no support from us for anything if you use this opt out".

My favorite part is how it skips at random to arbitrary points of other episodes when playing Podcasts.

I always do this after my Mac updates iTunes.

    $ sudo chmod -x /Applications/iTunes.app/Contents/MacOS/*
That keeps it from launching accidentally. I never launch it intentionally, in fact, I've never accepted its license agreement.

Absolutely. I never actually use it on the laptop. (I never got the point of these music players that to organize all your music; I prefer to have it lying around on my file system as just plain files).

I used to be on iPhone and I absolutely loathed iTunes.

I don't hate iTunes, but it's 2015 and Apple is still blocking the main thread all over the place. And displaying internal error numbers to users, with Google serving as their error to string conversion function.

Yes. I have to do a thing on OS X on every new Mac to stop iTunes loading when I do random things. And 'syncing' is a little 2007.

On my iPad I have to go into 'iTunes Store' to buy books for iBooks. Which is bizarre.

I don't know if there are design choices I'm not thinking of, but my big gripe is that if I am streaming from my mac to an airplay enabled TV, and I click a link to the app store in my browser, my TV pauses.

Maybe if it didn't run like it had two broken legs I wouldn't hate it.

Ugh. This post jumped to 40 points in 3 hours, and now has been pushed from the front page to page 4, rank #108.

It's really annoying and heavy-handed when HN shuts down and effectively censors conversation like this.

I don't hate it, but I don't like it enough to use it. Any apps I download I do from the App Store from my iPhone, and for music I use Spotify almost exclusively.

My Spotify Premium subscription is worth it just for the fact that I haven't had to touch iTunes in months.

No. No linux support. I got an ipad as a gift and to use it is a mess. Spotify can work, but the fact that you need Itunes to pass items to the ipad annoys me as hell.

Yes. Lately, as a replacement, I've been using VOX[0] and it's a pretty sleek player.

[0] : http://coppertino.com

I don't like it. It's heavy and bloated for what I would ever need it to do (put music onto my ipod). In fact, I have it installed solely for that purpose.

yep hate it! one of the worst user experiences found in any app. Cant imagine how Apple UX designers ever figured that this would be a good design.

It's gotten worse over the years but it's most certainly better than any of the alternatives I've been obliged to use on linux.

I used to be pretty happy with it but it seems to get progressively worse. These days I can never find anything in the UI so I just avoid it.

I feel like the odd one out. I am happy with iTunes. I like the way it presents my library and the store. I find it reliable and easy to use.

Yes!! I hate it so much, it's the worst UI experience ever and I've used a lot of bad UIs over the last 35 years.

I loved iTunes up until version 12. It is now a bafflingly user hostile piece of software and I am done with it.

I disliked iTunes so much I just avoided all Apple products and removed all Apple software from my life.

Never looked back.

Yes, I clicked on iTunes store today and could not find the 'App Store' anywhere.

I don't hate the concept or utility of iTunes. I just hate the business model of not being able to port/copy/relocate my downloaded files that I bought to other devices. So my personal preference is to stick to DRM free platforms like Amazon and Google.

I hate iTunes. I am much happier with Google Play for iOS and Android.

I don't hate it, but it's not great either.

iTunes for Windows is the WORST! I moved away from iPhones (a while ago) because of this crapware (they would not sync over the air then)

Yes. It has become a horrible twisted mess.

I thought iTunes sucked on Windows only.

Mac users have to go through iTunes sync just as Windows users :) So, it sucks on Mac but just not as slow as it is on Win.

Yes, almost as much as I hate iPhoto.

Hate it with a passion since 2001.


Yes. Hate it

I hate it.


I don't hate it. Other than testing on it and using it for work, I am completely independent of Apple's walled garden.

I use tablets that run a full operating system that I have full control over (not Android or iOS) and the only semi-limited system that I use is my Android phone.

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