How to restore the sidebar and column view in iTunes 12

iTunes 12 default viewiTunes has had a bit of a makeover for version 12, as included in OS X 10.10 Yosemite. Unfortunately, it’s still a jack-of-all-trades beachball-fest on my Mac. Worse, however, is that Apple has added to the woe by dumbing down the interface still further.

The default My Music view just shows album cover art and album tracks only appear when you select an album, which is a terrible way to navigate a large music collection. The old — and much more useful — column view of artists and albums is nowhere to be seen. The useful sidebar list of playlists is also appears to be absent, but a much more familiar layout can be restored with a few clicks.

iTunes 12 Playlists view

Start by clicking Playlists at the top of the items window to restore the sidebar, then select Songs from the drop-down menu at the top-right of the iTunes window — this takes you back to the old column view.

Screenshot 2014-10-17 at 08.33.24

Then go to View > Column Browser > Show Column Browser and everything is back to normal — though you may want to disable the Genre column via View > Column Browser and unticking Genres.

iTunes 12 Column browser

Annoyingly, this all has a habit of undoing itself each time you start iTunes, but it’s easy enough to restore.

iTunes 12 sidebar and column view

  • Rh3nium

    Thanks! Though I feel a bit “doh!” since I am sure I saw the column browser entry in my view menu, but now I can’t find it…. are there different menu layouts???

    • Hex

      I had the same problem- you have to select “songs” (as opposed to albums / artists / etc) from the top right drop down first.

  • Marc45

    Yes, thank you. Why does it seem like every time Apple does an upgrade I have to root around the internet to find out how to restore what they took out? (sigh)

  • arkhunter

    How do I get the miniplayer back. I “maximixed” the main window and now It’s a full desktop with no way to minimize or reduce it now!

    • Geek Guides

      Window menu > Switch to MiniPlayer.

      Leave full-screen mode by moving the mouse pointer to the top of the screen so the menu bar re-appears, then click the round green button at the left of the top-left of the window.

      • arkhunter

        Ah! I knew there had to be some place to get out of that full desktop view! Thanks! (mine button was blue, by the way) Can’t open the mini player till you are out of that full view.

    • Pumple Stiltskin

      Click on the artwork in the full window view (top left of center). To exit miniplayer mode, close the mini player using the x.

      what on god’s green earth are they thinking? Too many cushy overpaid nerds working there now. Apple was best when they had to fight to stay fed. Now they’re like some fattie that needs a scooter to get around.

  • phreethink

    Guess windows users are just screwed. No such option for us.

    • Jed

      I’m using Win7 and the directions worked perfectly for me. Just have to make sure you switch it to “Songs” in the upper-right-hand corner like the directions say. Then the “Column Browser” option magically appears in under the “View” tab.

  • Grateful

    Thank you. Needed this.

  • Snide

    Thank you so much. iTunes is getting as bad as facebook. Every time I use them I have to relearn them. Brutes. Thanks again.

  • Ed

    Yes, it works for windows users as well.

  • Mike

    One exception: I used to be able to click on my device name on the sidebar and get a breakdown of memory usage by music, photos, etc. Now it does nothing when I click on the device name. I have to go to the dull square symbol on the top left. I really don’t like the changes.

  • Rafael

    I had the same problem and I found the way to restore the Column Browser. However, it only works with the music stored in my hard drive, not with the music in my iPhone. I hope Apple fixes that in a future update, but I still don’t understand why they keep removing useful functions just to restore them after realizing users DO use them!

    • Rafael

      It neither works with a classic iPod. Those thinking the “improvements” are morons!

  • Rafael

    Eventually I found a way. Rather than using the Music menu on the sidebar, one has to first choose the device above the sidebar, and then choose again “Music” on the sidebar under the menu “In my device”… rather cumbersome.

    • Lovetodrive2000

      Finally…… thanks…. I’ve been looking for an hour on how to get the column browser back!

  • Pumple Stiltskin

    Wow, Apple are really devolving into a bunch of a$$tards I gotta say. Way to keep fixing crap that already works. why hasn’t some other company already stomped them into extinction? I can’t believe they’re the smartest around these days. but unfortunately they’ve got little competition.

  • patandt

    Thanks, Jules. I cannot believe that I will have to go through this every time i open itunes. Bunch of feaking thugs. i guess the option is to always leave it open.

  • OliB

    Apple never cease to amaze me with their absurd ‘upgrades’. If they want to turn previous apple evangelist into apple loathers, there are doing a perfect job!

  • ducious

    Thanks for sharing, it was getting frustrating finding the column browser. Another attempt by designers to dumb down everything.!

  • RAMairGTO72

    Hello everyone.
    Hey, I need help, for some reason I lost the column to the right of my music that has my I pod listed and it’s playlists.
    I can only see it if I try to drag a song to the right, then it slides away.
    Windows user.

  • MeOK?

    God bless you. I was going to do something drastic. Like try to download an old version of itunes.

  • Diana B


  • Praelium

    Thank you. “iTunes. View. Column browser. Hide.” Phew.

  • Nazlicorp


  • aussiejim

    Well this does not work in TV shows. Have two MACs running same version and one has show column browser and the other doesn’t in My TV shows


  • TheScorpion

    The fucking dropping down is not there for 12.4. WTF!!!

  • TheScorpion

    Why would they remove a key feature and make iTunes worse than it already was? This is the last apple device I ever buy.

  • Rose Red

    I want it on the left. It wastes space on the top!

  • Ranelagh

    Why can’t I find the top right drop down at all?! All I have in the top right is a Search box.

  • Carol Capello

    don’t have a Playlist button at top

  • Tammie

    Sometimes when I import a whole album, the songs are not imported in ascending track order. Then when I make a playlist, they are all out of order, and there is not track # option for sorting in a playlist. Does anyone know how to solve this problem (aside from manually sorting the songs in the playlist)? Thanks!

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