iTunes 9 Focus: iTunes Media organization

iTunes was never known for organizing things well in the Finder. It pretty much just dumped everything in your iTunes Music folder, whether it was an album, movie, or a season of TV shows. You could still find what you were looking for, but it was kind of a pain, because you'd have to scroll past potentially hundreds of music albums before you got to your Movies or TV Shows folders.

In iTunes 9, there's a new feature that remedies this organization problem, appropriately named iTunes Media organization. It moves your folders around into a much more logical structure, with separate folders for audiobooks, iPhone apps, movies, music, podcasts, ringtones, TV shows, and voice memos.

Another extremely useful organizational feature that's come out in iTunes 9 is a new folder named "Automatically add to iTunes." This folder does exactly what it says; drag a file into it, and not only will it be added to iTunes immediately, it will also automatically move to the appropriate folder. So, for example, if you drag a movie file into the "Automatically add to iTunes" folder, it'll show up your iTunes library immediately, and it'll also automatically move to the iTunes Music > Movies folder. This makes it easier than ever to keep things organized.

Sweet, sweet organization, how I love thee

One thing to keep in mind if you're backing up using Time Machine: sadly, Time Machine isn't smart enough to know that your files have merely been moved around, not deleted and re-added. So if you upgrade to iTunes Media organization, Time Machine will back up your entire iTunes library again. This might not be a big deal to you if your iTunes library isn't very big, but if you're one of those people toting around half a terabyte of media files, you might want to think twice before upgrading to the new organization scheme. My library was only 78 GB, but that still entailed deleting five months worth of backups from my Time Capsule and an overnight backup.

The "Automatically add to iTunes" folder is enabled automatically when you install iTunes 9, and is located in the /Music/iTunes/iTunes Music/ folder for each user on the Mac. This happens whether you enable iTunes Media organization or not, so all you'll be losing by not upgrading to the new organization scheme is the peace of mind of having a far less cluttered library in the Finder. Unless you're a fiend for organization, it might not be worth the hassle of backing up your entire iTunes library again.

Note to readers: the last paragraph was rewritten to clarify how the Automatically Add to iTunes folder works, how it is enabled, and where to find it.