Go beyond iTunes with Catalina's new media apps

Take Control of
macOS Media Apps

Kirk McElhearn

Are you bewildered with the new Catalina apps that replace iTunes? Befuddled by Apple Music? Do you want to customize the Music app sidebar? Wish you could organize your podcasts? Wondering what the difference is between loves and stars? In this book, Kirk McElhearn (author of three previous Take Control titles on iTunes, going back to 2010) explains not only how Apple’s new media apps work, but how normal people can make the Music, TV, Podcasts, and Books apps do what they want.

All Take Control books are delivered in three ebook formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—and can be read on nearly any device.


In macOS 10.15 Catalina, Apple finally did away with iTunes. In its place are three new apps—Music, TV, and Podcasts—with audiobooks now handled by the Books app and syncing of mobile devices handled by the Finder. Where once iTunes was an all-purpose media hub, now you may use up to five apps to accomplish the same things. The new apps also add more features (while, sadly, removing a few things too).

Take Control of macOS Media Apps is your guide to this new, post-iTunes world. Kirk McElhearn, whose earlier books on iTunes 10, 11, and 12 collectively sold nearly 14,000 copies, is back with a new book that shows you how to manage your music, videos, podcasts, and audiobooks in Catalina.

Whether you just want to play your media, or you want to go deeper with special features like Genius, Shuffle, Up Next, Apple Music, and iTunes Match, this comprehensive guide has the answers you need.

Kirk also looks at various ways of bringing audio and video into Apple’s media apps, tagging songs and videos so you can find them more easily later, creating playlists, sharing your library over a home network, and syncing media with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod.

This ebook comes with a coupon for $7 off Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil app.

The book covers how to:

  • Play Music: Learn the basics of playing audio (and even music videos) in the Music app. You’ll also find tips on making quick playlists with Genius and Up Next, learn the best ways to search for the music you want to hear, stream music to other devices in your home, and view lyrics while tunes play.

  • Stream Music: Use Apple Music, a paid service, to listen to any of 50 million tracks. Or listen to live broadcasts from Apple Music Radio (including Beats 1).

  • View Your Music and Other Content: Learn how to use the sidebar, view your music library, and work with contextual menus in the Music app.

  • Store Your Music Library in the Cloud: What are the pros and cons of Apple’s Cloud Music Library? How do Music and iTunes Match figure out whether to upload your music when setting up your Cloud Music Library? You’ll get answers to these questions and more.

  • Use the iTunes Store: iTunes may be gone, but the iTunes Store is still open for business! Find tips on shopping in the iTunes Store, and get advice on sharing your purchases with family members and among your various Apple devices.

  • Tag Your Music: Tags are bits of information (also known as “metadata”) that can describe your media. Learn which tags to bother changing, the best ways to add lyrics and album art, how to rate songs with stars, loves, or both, and more.

  • Organize Your Music: Make a simple playlist of romantic songs, workout songs, or whatever theme you like. You’ll learn how to create smart playlists that, for example, comprise only your 5-star faves or only tunes you haven’t heard recently, and how to transfer playlists to the Apple Watch. You’ll also find help with operational issues like eliminating duplicates from your music library.

  • Manage and Share Media Files: Whether you want to casually share a playlist from your laptop when visiting a friend or you want to make all your media available on all your home’s computers, you’ll find out how Media Sharing and Home Sharing make sharing possible. You’ll also learn how to manage massive media libraries and store media files on external drives.

  • Listen to Audiobooks: Discover how to download and play audiobooks in the Books app, and how to manage your audiobook library.

  • View Movies and TV Shows: Use the TV app (with or without the forthcoming Apple TV+ service) to watch videos, including those purchased or rented from the iTunes Store and those you add yourself.

  • Listen to and Watch Podcasts: You’ll be sampling and subscribing to podcasts in no time with Kirk’s advice, plus you’ll pick a method of syncing podcast episodes to your iPhone or iPad and even learn about creating your own podcast station.

  • Sync Media: You’ve put all your media on your Mac…now, how do you transfer it to a mobile Apple device such as an iPhone, an iPad, an old-school iPod, or an Apple Watch? And how do you use an Apple TV to enjoy the media on your Mac? Learn the best approach for your situation.

  • Rip, Burn, and Print: Add content to your media apps with Kirk’s detailed steps for “ripping” music CDs and audiobooks. Also learn how to burn music from Music onto a CD, and get directions for printing a song list—for example, to include in the jewel case of said CD.

  • Extend with AppleScript: Mac users can make the Music and TV apps do more with AppleScript. Learn about key AppleScripts that you can download to make your media apps jump through even more hoops.

Note: This book covers Apple’s media apps in macOS Catalina exclusively. It does not cover iTunes for Windows, the Music/TV/Podcasts/Books apps for iOS and iPadOS, or iTunes running in earlier versions of macOS.

Kirk McElhearn

About Kirk McElhearn

Kirk McElhearn writes about Macs, iPods, iTunes, books, music and more. As a Senior Contributor to Macworld for more than 15 years, he wrote hundreds of articles, including the Ask the iTunes Guy column. He is a regular contributor to The Mac Security Blog, The Startup Finance Blog, and TidBITS, as well as several other websites and magazines. He is co-host of several podcasts, including The Next Track, a podcast about how people listen to music today. Visit his website Kirkville.

What’s New in Version 1.1

Version 1.1 of this book contains changes made mainly to the Music and TV apps shortly after their initial release:

  • Column Browser: When Apple released the new Music app, it was missing a feature that had been in iTunes from the very first version, which is ideal for navigating large libraries: the column browser. Apple responded to the many users who lamented the loss of this feature, and restored it in December 2019. I discuss the Column Browser in “View Your Music Library.”
  • Multiple libraries in the Music app: I have added some information about creating and using multiple libraries in the Music app. For a long time, you could create multiple libraries, but all your libraries would still inherit the preferences set in iTunes. Now, in the Music app, each library uses separate preferences, notably that to sync your library to the cloud. See “Create More than One Music Library on Your Mac.”
  • Navigation from the keyboard: I have added a couple of tips for navigating different views in the Music app. See “View Your Music Library” to find out how to quickly move down a list of artists, composers, songs, or albums.
  • Using an Audible account in the Books app: I have added information about authorizing an Audible account to listen to audiobooks in the Books app. See “Listen to Audiobooks.”

June 26, 2020—We are evaluating forthcoming changes to the Music, Podcasts, and TV apps to see whether an update to this book will be needed after Big Sur ships this fall.


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