iTunes 9 Brings Apple TV Problems [Updated]

iTunes icon in black & white I held off installing iTunes 9 since I figured it would bring problems. There were major changes to the UI, but even more of a potential problem is the switch (or at least greater use of) from Cocoa to Webkit which has been reported by some people.

But with my new iPod Touch on its way I’d need to be upgrading to iTunes 9. I decided to do it now in case it took awhile. It hasn’t been pleasant. Here’s what I’ve encountered.

  • It’s a very long process to convert the library. I figured things were locking up but decided to be patient. Eventually things moved on. It took almost a hour to do the “gapless” processing after an earlier hour upgrading my library. Overall, it was almost 3 hours from when I ran the upgrade to when I could actually browse my library.
  • With my Apple TV turned on (but not actually doing anything or syncing) at various, but seemingly random times, I click something (menu, sing, etc…) and the pinwheel appears for a couple of minutes. That’s if I’m lucky – at the moment the pinwheel has been spinning for 7 minutes after I double-clicked a movie to play.
  • Most videos no longer sync to my Apple TV as iTunes reports they are an unsupported format. All these videos were previously on the Apple TV an several where videos purchased through the iTunes store. There are a few videos that did sync. All are those I ripped from my DVDs but I haven’t figured out anything unique about them compared to the ones that didn’t sync. I don’t sync music but others have reported similar problems with music.
  • I’m unable to stream anything through my Apple TV.
  • Starting iTunes 9 results in a pinwheel for over 10 minutes if the Apple TV is turned on. I figured this was due to the Apple TV sync but I turned off auto sync and the pinwheel still appears even though no sync appears to be happening.

All this is on OS X 10.6.1 Snow Leopard and my Apple TV has the latest update. I haven’t done much troubleshooting yet. Most problems appear to be with the Apple TV which is annoying for me but since I typically turn off the Apple TV when not is use I could live with it if I could get syncing to work.

So I’ll probably keep iTunes 9 on my iMac to use with the new Touch, but If I can’t get the Apple TV syncing to work I’ll probably set up a second iTunes library to handle the Apple TV using the older iTunes.

[Update Sept 17th – A workaround]

Here’s what I found so far:

Even newly purchased and downloaded (after the iTunes 9 updgrade) videos failed to sync on my iPod or my Apple TV due to an “can’t be played” message confirming it’s not the library upgrade or actual video format. 27 videos failed to sync while six sync’d OK. Many, many videos were not listed in the list when I wanted to strem the video.  Until I did the following…

  1. Check the “Prevent Apple TVs from syncing automatically” in the Apple TV tab of iTunes preferences.
  2. Shut down iTunes. Turn off Apple TV (further testing indicated that the Apply TV may not need to be turned off)
  3. Start iTunes
  4. Turn of the Apple TV. iTunes will see it but not sync.
  5. Manually sync the Apple TV by right-clicking it in iTunes and selecting Sync
    At this point all but six if the 27 videos synced and the number of streamable videos increased dramatically. For the remaining video I had to do the following steps.
  6. Shut down iTunes and restart it. I have found that whenever I sync to Apple TV I need to restart iTunes before I can play ANY video or sync again.
  7. Play each video (on the Mac in iTunes) that failed to sync or that fails to stream. It doesn’t need to be long, I literally stop it as soon as the video appeared. I then right-click the video and select “Mark As Unwatched” although it’s just to restore the status I want, not to fix the problem.If you have a lot of videos you may want to view the properties of them all. This fixed one video for me and can be done in bulk, but like I said, only one out of six so the success rate was low. So now I just play the video and it always works.
  8. Right-click the Apple TV in iTunes and sync again. In my case they all synced.
  9. Since I can’t play any videos after an Apple TV sync I shut down iTunes and restart it.

I also had the sync problem with my new iPod Touch. It this case just shutting down and restarting iTunes resolved the problem.

I did most of the standard troubleshooting but stopped short of the painful Apple TV factory reset (don’t see Apple TV as the problem) and an iTunes 9 reinstall. I didn’t have any problems during the upgrade and I just let it do it’s thing for as long as it’s needed. I’m tired of reinstalling Apple software so I’ll wait for the inevitable “.1” patch and see if my problem is resolved. Until then, my workaround is all I need especially since I don’t watch too much on the Apple TV these days. Which makes it more annoying – I went through all this just to get back the videos that the first sync after the upgrade removed from my Apple TV as incompatible.

[Update 2]

It looks like iTunes 9.01 has resolved my above problems. At least I no longer need to shut down iTunes after an Apple TV sync. As far as the videos, a couple new ones synced ok but that could just be a roll of the dice so my fingers are crossed.

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