Discover Apple's Music, TV, Podcasts, and Books apps

Take Control of
macOS Media Apps

Kirk McElhearn

Are you bewildered with the apps that replaced iTunes in Catalina and later? 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 media apps work, but also 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.


Starting 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 and Big Sur.

Whether you just want to play your media, or you want to go deeper with special features like Genius, Shuffle, Playing 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 Playing 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 60 million tracks. Or listen to live broadcasts from Apple Music Radio (including Apple Music 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 using the Sync Library setting to store your music in the cloud? How do Music and iTunes Match figure out whether to upload your music when that setting is enabled? 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 and Big Sur 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 Apple hardware and software, 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 1.2

This is the second revision of Take Control of macOS Media Apps, which, last year, underwent major changes after Apple split iTunes into multiple apps on the Mac.

This year, it’s time for a big change in the overall interface of macOS. This is the biggest overhaul of the Mac’s interface in many years, but the media apps—Music, TV, Podcasts, and Books—have very few changes. There are some changes in terminology, the return of a key missing feature in the Music app, and a few minor tweaks, but those who have already adapted to these news apps will not have any difficulty in continuing as they have since the release of macOS Catalina.

Version 1.2 of this book covers changes made in macOS 11 Big Sur:

  • New interface: With macOS Big Sur, Apple has made the most comprehensive overhaul of the operating system’s interface in many years. Windows, toolbars, and other elements have a new look, and all of Apple’s media apps inherit this new styling. While all the screenshots in this book have been redone for this version, there aren’t that many feature changes in the various apps.
  • Listen Now: When Apple Music was launched, For You was the place to go in iTunes, and later the Music app, to find personalized music recommendations. Now, in macOS Big Sur, Apple has named the personalized section of the Music app Listen Now. The content has changed slightly, but the Listen Now section is essentially the same as For You. See “Discover Music on Apple Music.”
  • Album artwork in Songs view: When macOS Catalina was released, the Music app was missing two essential features that I have long used to navigate and find music. The first, the Column Browser, was restored in an update a couple of months after the initial release. However, the second, the display of album artwork when viewing music in Songs view, was not restored. This feature is back in macOS Big Sur. Thank you, Apple. See “Songs View.”
  • Playing Next: The Music app, and its predecessor iTunes, had an Up Next queue that showed what you would be listening to after the current track, if you started playing an album, playlist, or other selection of music. The Music app in macOS Big Sur has changed the name of this list to Playing Next, but the functionality remains the same. See “Use Playing Next to View and Manage a Music Queue.”
  • Time-synced lyrics for some songs on Apple Music: Apple has added “time-synced lyrics” for some songs on Apple Music. This means that you can see the lyrics for a song with each line highlighted as it is sung. See “View Lyrics for Your Songs” for more on this feature.
  • New Apple Music content: Apple Music changes its Listen Now section regularly, irrespective of updates to its operating systems. I’ve updated the “Discover Apple Music” section to cover the latest elements available in Listen Now.
  • New Apple Music radio stations: Apple rebranded its flagship Beats 1 radio station as Apple Music 1, and added two new live Apple Music radio stations. See “Listen to Apple Music Radio.”
  • Full Screen Player: While you may listen to music while you work, sometimes you want your Mac to be a standalone music player. The Music app offers a Full Screen Player, which displays album artwork, with a background derived from colors in the artwork, and you can also display lyrics while your music plays. See “Use the Full Screen Player.”
  • A new icon for the Music app: The music app loses its multi-colored hues, and is now a simple two-toned icon. It retains the two beamed eight notes, which are now white on a red background.
  • Read Me First
    • Updates and More
    • What’s New in Version 1.2
    • A Note on Terminology
  • Introduction
  • Quick Start
  • A Brief Introduction to Apple’s Media Apps
  • Play Music
    • Play Your Music
    • Control Music with the MiniPlayer
    • View Lyrics for Your Songs
    • Use the Full Screen Player
    • Get Notifications as Your Music Changes
    • Search for Music
    • Let Genius Choose What to Play
    • Use Playing Next to View and Manage a Music Queue
    • Make Your Music Sound Better
    • Stream Music in Your Home
    • Control Music from an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch
    • Display Eye Candy While Listening to Music
    • Minimalize the Music App
    • Watch Music Videos
  • Stream Apple Music
    • Discover Apple Music
    • Listen to Apple Music Radio
  • View Your Music and Other Content
    • Use the Sidebar
    • View Your Music Library
    • Use Contextual Menus
  • Store Your Music Library in the Cloud
    • Manage Music and the Cloud
    • Sync Your Music Library to the Cloud
  • Use the iTunes Store
    • About Your iTunes Store Account
    • Shop in the iTunes Store
  • Tag Your Music Files
    • Understanding Tags
    • Add or Change Tags
    • Add Lyrics to Your Tracks
    • Album Artwork and Music Files
    • Rate the Songs You Love; and the Rest
  • Organize Your Music and Create Playlists
    • On Playlists
    • Create a Standard Playlist
    • About Smart Playlists
    • Organize Playlists
    • Eliminate Duplicates From Your Library
  • Manage and Share Media Files
    • How the Media Apps Organize Files
    • Store Media Files on an External Drive
    • Manage a Huge Music Library
    • Create More than One Music Library on Your Mac
    • Share Your Music and TV Libraries over a Network
    • Back Up Your Media Files
  • Listen to Audiobooks
    • Play Audiobooks
    • Manage an Audiobook Library
  • Watch Movies and TV Shows in the TV App
    • Browse Content in the TV App
    • Add Videos to Your TV Library
  • Listen to and Watch Podcasts
    • Find Podcasts
    • Manage Podcasts
    • Create Podcast Stations
    • Sync Podcasts
  • Sync Media to Your iPhone, iPad, or iPod
    • What to Sync to Your Mobile Device
    • Connect Your Mobile Device to Your Mac
    • Sync Your Content
    • Squeeze as Much Music as Possible on Your Mobile Device
    • Sync Multiple Mobile Devices with the Same Computer
    • Put Music on an Apple Watch
    • Access Media Content on an Apple TV
  • Rip, Burn, and Print
    • How to Rip CDs
    • Compression Formats for Ripping CDs
    • Bit Rates for Ripping CDs
    • Other Important Settings for Ripping CDs
    • How to Rip a Music CD
    • How to Rip an Audiobook CD
    • Convert Audio Files to a Different Format
    • Rip Just the Music from a Concert DVD
    • Burn Music CDs
    • Print from the Music App
  • Extend the Music and TV Apps with AppleScripts
    • Introducing AppleScripts
    • Where to Find AppleScripts
    • What You Can Do with AppleScripts
  • Learn More
  • About This Book
    • Ebook Extras
    • About the Author
    • About the Publisher
  • Copyright and Fine Print
  • Rogue Amoeba Coupon


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