20 March 2007

Sort Fields in iTunes 7.1

@apple@

An explanation of iTunes 7.1’s infamous new sort options [via]: in a nutshell, the iTunes interface engineers have really outdone themselves on this one.

Turns out there’s a new “Sorting” tab in the track info window, which lets you manually specify how the track title, the artist, etc., will be alphabetized — for instance, if you want your John Lennon tracks to show up at “L” when you sort your library by artist, you’ll enter “Lennon, John” in the “Sort Artist” box. That’s kinda stupid, because if you’re anal enough to edit this field you probably already renamed all your Lennon tracks to “Lennon, John” anyway, but nevermind.

The kicker is, you can’t edit the sorting options of multiple tracks at once — the multiple track info window doesn’t handle those fields at all, because it would certainly have been too complex to add a tab there as well. And this is where that mysterious new “Apply Sort Field” contextual menu item comes in: in the previous example, what you’re supposed to do is, first edit sorting options for only one Lennon song, then select all his other songs, right-click and select “Apply Sort Field” and “Same Artist” so they inherit the “sort artist” from that other song by the same artist — and you’ll be treated to one of the awesomest confirmation popups in recent years.

As far as I can tell, there’s absolutely no other way to change the sorting options of multiple tracks — and that includes the absolute requirement to access the contextual menu, which is a big no-no in Apple interface guidelines. And it obviously isn’t documented anywhere. I’ve known for a while, and already blogged, that the iTunes project leaders have been contaminated by Windows, but this is more brain-dead than anything Microsoft would inflict on its users in 2007. (Okay, maybe not.)

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