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10 Tips To Make iTunes for Windows Run Faster

If you’re running iTunes on a Windows machine, you might be frustrated with how slow it loads and performs. Here are some tips for getting better performance and make it less annoying.

There are certainly other factors that cause iTunes to run slow such as how many apps you have running at the time and how powerful the machine is. But we can make some adjustments to the settings in iTunes to help speed it up.

Note: Here we look at tips for getting better performance out of iTunes. Each user is different, so you might not want to disable certain features if you’re happy with them.

Install iTunes Faster

You can actually make your installation of iTunes go more quickly by disabling a few things while going through the Setup Assistant. If you have a lot of songs in you’re my Music folder, iTunes will want to add them all. If you want to get down to business and not wait while it searches the folder to add songs uncheck both options.

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Another thing you can do to help improve performance and have more accurate data is to not let iTunes keep your media folder organized. This also gives you more control over your music collection, which will be appealing to the serious music enthusiast.

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Disable Unused Services

Apple assumes you own an iPod, Apple TV, iPhone, and other Apple products. So there are services that are enabled by default to find them. If you don’t have the devices, let’s start by disabling them. Open iTunes and go to Edit \ Preferences.

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Then click the devices tab and uncheck Look for remote speakers connected with AirTunes and Look for iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad Remotes.

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If you don’t have an Apple TV or don’t want it to check for it during startup uncheck Look for Apple TVs.

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If you’re running iTunes on a stand alone machine another thing you might want to do is go to the Sharing tab and uncheck Look for shared libraries.

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Delete Smart Playlists

If you’re really serious about making iTunes load and run faster, then disable Smart Playlists. Some users love this feature an can’t live without it. But if you want to make iTunes load almost instantly, delete them. You can still create your own playlists and it doesn’t slow down performance as much as the Smart Playlists.

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When deleting a playlist, you’ll get a message asking if you’re sure. Check Do not ask me again and continue deleting the default playlists.

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Disable Genius

If you haven’t turned Genius on, then don’t. If you have it enabled then turn it off. While it’s enabled you’ll notice that it’s doing a lot of things in the background, taking up resources.

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Turn off Cover Flow

While the Cover Flow feature offers some cool “eye candy”, it can run slow, especially on older systems. The other problem with it is you have to flip through album by album and that can be inconvenient.

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Instead of using Cover Flow, use the standard browser view which is a very quick way to find the collections of certain artists you’re looking for.

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Get Rid of Duplicate Files

If you have a huge music collection, chances are there are duplicates of the same song. To find and delete them click on File \ Display Duplicates.

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You might want to use this judicially though, as in this example we have the same songs in the Led Zeppelin collection, but they are from the original album and a “best of”. So you might not want to delete them from the different albums.

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There are also third party software applications out there that will eliminate duplicate music files such as Audio DeDupe.

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Make Navigating the Library Easier

To help you navigate through your library more quickly, get rid of columns you don’t care about. Right-click the Column Bar and uncheck the ones you don’t need.

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Alternately you can go to View \ View Options…

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Then uncheck the columns you don’t want showing up then click OK.

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Stop Annoying Messages

Another easy tip is when you’re setting up iTunes or running different features for the first time, it might pop up messages the you don’t need to see again. When they appear, check Do not show this message again. This will save some time by not having to click through the messages every time.

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Make the Text Larger for Easier Reading

If you’re on a netbook or notebook with a smaller screen, you can make the text larger so you can see everything easier. Go to Edit \ Preferences…

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Then under the General tab change Source and List Text to Large.

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It makes a big improvement if you’re on a small screen or just have a hard time seeing it with the smaller default font size.

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Use Folders to Organize Playlists

Sometimes it can be easier to put a bunch of albums in a folder to get to them. Click on File \ New Playlist Folder. Give it a name and hit enter.

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In this example we made a folder called Hard Rock. Then drag your playlist to it…very simple, but can make finding the right genre of music you want to listen to easier.

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Conclusion

These are just a few tips that will help improve your iTunes experience. Mainly we focused on the Desktop Player and your music collection. There are some tips and tricks for speeding up the syncing and backing up devices, improving video performance, and iTunes Store that we’ll be taking a look at in future articles.

If you want an alternative to iTunes that is fast, fully customizable, plays a lot more music file formats without the need of goofy hacks, and will work with your iPod via Plug-ins then you might want to check out Foobar2000.

Again, not everyone will want to turn the suggested features off. You might want to experiment and turn some off, while leaving others on depending on your setup. In our tests, just disabling search for Apple Devices alone, we shaved several seconds off its loading time. When we then disabled Smart Playlists, it loaded in a second. Let us know what you think! What tips and tricks do you use to keep iTunes from running slow?

Download iTunes for Windows

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/28/10

Comments (36)

  1. eMcE

    One big tip: uninstall this crap!
    ;)

  2. Matthew Guay

    Great tips; thanks for sharing. I didn’t realize you could stop iTunes from scanning for devices directly from iTunes…

  3. David Levine

    I always hated how long it would take iTunes to open in Windows. It’s too bad you have to disable a lot of features that people enjoy to get it to work the way it should out of the gate. Maybe one day Apple will address this. Thankfully it works much faster on a Mac.

  4. Eli Gundry

    I wish I could say the easiest solution to the iTunes speed problem would be to uninstall iTunes, but thanks to the addition of the App Store, this is getting harder and harder to do. iTunes does so many things wrong.

    One may ask, how bloated can we make a wrapper for Quicktime, and Apple responded with an 100 mb+ installer for iTunes.

  5. Phil S

    The only thing I use itunes for is to keep my ipod synced…I don’t use it as my main media player, so it is closed nearly all the time…I have a question that hopefully someone can answer…every time I wake my computer from sleep, itunes automatically opens. This is quite annoying since it can take itunes several secs to open and pops up on top of any other work I’m doing. I’ve read that you can uncheck the option to “Open itunes when this ipod is connected” under the summary tab for my ipod..however, since upgrading my ipod software to ver. 4.0, this option is greyed out. Anyone know a fix? Thanks

  6. vtzete0

    Very useful tip!

  7. 6205

    Apple software for Windows is IMO the worst crap ever. Dump iTunes and use WMP, dump QuickTime player and use QuickTime Alternative Lite. Also uninstall from Add/Remove programs everything else with Apple in name :) and don’t forget and Bonjour…

  8. infmom

    Get rid of all the Led Zeppelin. It might not run faster afterwards but it’ll sound a lot better. :D

  9. TomAmitai

    I installed iTunes solely for podcasts that aren’t available otherwise. In addition to the tips in this article, I disabled the Bonjour service in services.msc.

  10. Matt

    Seriously, the best advice for iTunes is to look for alternatives, such as foobar, WinAmp, WMP, or pretty much anything. iTunes for Windows is literally one of the worst programs I’ve ever used, and that’s not an exaggeration. I don’t have an axe to grind with Apple, and I don’t just have some irrational dislike of iTunes. I used the thing for about 4 or 5 years before moving on. My media playing has been much easier and less frustrating since. There’s no reason to stick with such a horrible program, seriously.

  11. Skwisgaar

    If you donot own an iDevice you donot need to use itunes. Windows Media Player is often overlooked and is under rated. if your on windows, tyhe best media manager which is quick id WMP. i use it to manage my 80gb + metal collection

  12. Leandri

    All good tips, but you don’t have to get rid of Smart Playlists. There’s an option when creating them to turn off live updating.

  13. Dantv

    Thanks for the tips. Made my iTunes better!

    As for the Apple haters telling us to uninstall iTunes, that is just lame. I like using iTunes!

  14. Greg G

    Why you can’t just right click on an mp3 file and “send” it to your iDevice, I’ll never know. Oh wait, yes I do know..It’s an Apple product! As an iPod owner (gift) I wait until I desperately want to add new tunes to the pod, other than that iTunes is not loaded. The rest of the software is absolutely useless to me.

  15. Kele

    I’m one of those that uses iTunes only to sync my iPod touch. Otherwise I use Winamp (I try foobar every once in a while but I just end up back at Winamp). I’ll be sure to implement these tips to further minimize the time I spend with iTunes open.

    Is iTunes better on the Mac?

  16. Leandri

    iTunes does run faster on the Mac, but all of these tips still apply. It can still be pretty slow at times.

  17. J.

    I hate that I have to use iTunes as I have an iPhone and it won’t sync any content with other programs (making sure that this is the last time I buy an Apple product). However, I run a modified version of iTunes which works with QTLite and allows you to disable all of the startup services, without them being re-started.

    http://www.msfn.org/board/topic/122101-itunes-without-quicktime is where I grabbed it from. Install QTLite first though, I got that from http://www.free-codecs.com/download/QT_Lite.htm. Do not allow QTLite to install it’s own version of Apple Application Support so if it asks (which it only should if you installed iTunes first), uncheck that.

    If you have an iPhone/iPod Touch/Nano 5G/probably any other iDevice released since this comment was posted, there’s one more step. After installing iTunes without Quicktime, you’ll also need to download the proper iTunes installer from itunes.com and extract it using WinRAR. It will leave you with a bunch of .msi files – install ONLY AppleMobileDeviceSupport.msi.

    It’s fiddly I agree, but it definitely is a lot better to run a crippled iTunes which is only run when YOU want it to. I hope this helps someone and that Apple one day make iTunes for Windows users (i.e. most of it’s marketbase!) usable.

  18. chickenlin

    I use iTunes just for iTunesU and Genius Recommendation, but the loading time it takes is too much…

  19. Kronso

    I congratulate the author on finding a few things that probably speeds up Itunes. What is amazing is that people don’t uninstall it. That might be related to having to uninstall 5-7 things like Bonjour or “Apple Software Support” or something else that similarly is useless but gets installed anyway. Itunes will still be slow on Windows because that’s what Apple has created.

    Itunes for Windows is a dog. It runs really slow. Yet, on a Mac it is fast. The reason is obvious. Apple has to be writing “portable” code but doing it poorly. Their code is optimized for Mac OS X, probably making native system calls. Yet, on Windows, Apple “rolls their own” and does not make use of system calls.

    Overall, Itunes for Windows is trash. If you have an i-thing, then get a Mac for Itunes. If you can’t, use a spare PC just for Itunes. That way it won’t bog your main machine down.

    And never buy any i-thing again. That way you can eventually dump the horrendous Itunes for Windows. e

  20. Kevin

    I did all this a long time ago. iTunes is still slow on Windows. It was slow with Vista and still slow with 7. I’ll bet it is fast on a Mac….hmmm. I wonder why. If I did not have an iPod Touch, I would never use iTunes.

  21. Max Rockbin

    If you’re disabling features like iPhone synching and coverflow, Genius, and all the stuff that does make iTunes unique, I completely agree that an alternative makes sense. I ran iTunes on windows for a long time, but eventually got tired of its bugs and inefficiency (it runs great on an iMac).

    I switched to WinAmp (free version), and am glad I did. I ran iTunes for years, but WinAmp actually syncs more reliably and much faster with my iPod. Adding music to the library must be (literally) 50x faster (and that’s with the “reorganize” file copying turned off). Winamp uses almost no resources compared to iTunes, it minimizes in a more useful way, and now has better integration with Win7. If they fixed iTunes on Windows, I might switch back for convenience. But they’re on what? Version 8 or 9? And it seems to get worse with every release. I think Apple LOVES to make iTunes shitty on Windows. It makes Macs look better.

  22. Kele

    I went through iTunes and did what the article suggested and it actually works pretty well. Winamp is still better though.

  23. SuAlfons

    I actually like iTunes and always come back to it. How can you possibly want to only “send an MP3″ to your player? :-) (“It’s all about taste”, said the ape and bit the soap) . It loads much faster on a Mac. But I will see into these hints for both – my Mac and my livingroom PC.

  24. Lomandralisa

    Much much faster now …thanks…I think….I will miss the randomness of genius mixes…but not the waiting…and…waiting…for itunes to open so I can put a file into it.
    Just couldn’t give up coverflow though.
    Will follow up on some recommendations and see if I can bring myself to change to one of the others such as Winamp but am nervous that the change might upset my iphone.
    Wish we were not held ransome by these uber companies…ie apple, adobe, microsoft.

  25. costa k

    I started with WMP then moved to Real Player then to WinAmp and finally to iTunes. Been happy ever since. Never had a problem with it. QuickTime on the other hand…

    I shut off all those services and it didn’t make a huge difference. The start up is slow-ish but I’ve seen Publisher or Adobe Reader take just as long. But then again, I’m child of the 80s when booting up a computer took forever and the internet was at a whopping 56k so anything these days is positively blinding fast.

    Thanks for the article. Great site as well.

  26. Larry

    Good tips, will have to use some of em since they r useless for me… I have a couple questions if they can be answered here…I’m new with the ipod and main problem i had at first was realizing if i deleted the music from itunes next time it sync it would delete em off ipod also..Question is how u delete the music and it not remove from ipod?? Other is i installed it on main hard drive and have a external drive now…Whats best way of moving Itunes too external drive if its possible?? TYM!!

  27. Lauren

    thanks!!!!!

  28. Colin Q

    What is Bonjour and what does it do?? i have often been tempted to delete it but I’m unsure if I will lose something important that will effect the running of itunes or another system??

  29. bobokayo

    suck cocks

  30. Lo

    Whilst these suggestions may help improve the speed of iTunes, it does take away the functionality that makes iTunes what it is – and that is far superior to many of the alternatives. I am a Windows user, I don’t think I’ll ever purchase a MAC due to the overpricing and the pointlessness of it. However, I have owned an iPod since they first arrived on the seen and of course have used iTunes for Windows for my syncing requirements. What beggars belief here is that the two (iTunes and Windows) are like oil and water, they just are unable to work together — and at this stage in the game, it’s ridiculous. I am bound not to be the only user that has just plain had it with iTunes on Windows 7, it’s God Awful and where ever the blame may lie, well they should be ashamed. Finger pointers accusing Apple or Microsoft of the problem doesn’t help, neither do the comments to uninstall the software. This just shouldn’t be the case. There shouldn’t have to be pages on the internet that are telling us how to make this software operate a little quicker — the product shouldn’t be released to the public in this state and that’s a fact.

  31. Shane Tuck

    Nice.. But All I Wanted Was To Make The Grid View Run Faster… nice bands, slayer, led zeppelin, tool :D

  32. Moses

    Basically what I’m looking at is iTunes for Dummies. Most of what is stated here, is so easy to figure out on your own, most people are just too lazy for that.

  33. nickmarriott

    its now updraded and upgrinded to fit your personal needs……take it from some1 who knoes best…….its alll gonna be free 1 day….over the internet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. michael

    I have an mp3 player.I recently bought an ipod touch and us it with windows 7
    I must say the mp3 player is much more user friendly.
    also the ipod will not sync my playlist folder and no one can tell my why

  35. danny783

    disabling live update on smartplaylists worked great!!! i have at least 15 smart playlists and a ton of music so that must have been dragging all my resources!!!

  36. danny783

    and disabling bounjour service helps alot

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