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The Day the Duplicates Died

It’s almost hard to believe I wrote this post about duplicate track issues in iTunes and iCloud Music Library way back in December 2017, and yet, in the shipping version of iTunes today, that bug is still present.

Not a day goes by since I wrote that post (I have the tracking stats to prove it) that at least a few people don’t find my article via a Google search, which means people have been frustrated with this issue and have been looking for solutions for a very long time. Some have even reached out to me to thank me for reassuring them they aren’t crazy.

Imagine how my ears pricked up, then, when rumors started floating around this year that Apple was poised to retire iTunes in the next major version of macOS? While many were frightened Apple was taking away their precious music player of choice, I was elated at the chance of a brand new app which would presumably not elicit this same bug. After all, the rumor originally figured the new Music app would be ported over from its iOS counterpart on the iPad. And the iPad version doesn’t have this bug.

But then Apple announced Music for macOS (which will ship this fall with the Catalina update), and it quickly became apparent that rather than a complete rewrite, the app would simply be iTunes with a new name and a lot of its more bloated features removed.

Happy as I am to see the bloat removed, and as much as I believe strongly that you should not throw away perfectly functioning code for no good reason, the code in iTunes was far from perfectly functioning.

So, the big question: Would this bug still be present in Music, despite all the work Apple had put into rebranding and reworking it?

Luckily, I don’t have to wait until September to find out. I’m an Apple developer, after all, so I get early access to the beta versions of this software.

So I installed Catalina’s beta onto my Mac, fired up Music, turned on the iCloud Music Library feature, and…

Well, at first, the duplicates appeared again. I was despondent. I could not believe Apple didn’t bother addressing this issue after at least one-and-a-half years. (In all likelihood, the bug has been around quite a bit longer than that.)

But then, a few moments later, something wonderful happened. All the duplicate tracks disappeared in an instant. It was if Music caught itself making the same old mistake, and then corrected itself.

As of this writing, the duplicate tracks are still gone. iCloud Music Library is functioning on my Mac as intended. And any new tracks I download are being synced perfectly between my iPhone and Mac.

Fingers crossed that all is well, and we will finally be able to call this bug defeated.

I say will be, of course, because Catalina is not shipping yet. Those of you who are not developers will have to wait to get this fix. And there’s always the chance that the bug will return before shipping. But I highly doubt it. I think there are going to be a lot of happy Music users come fall.