iTunes 8 may be great, but it isn't perfect.
To help you get the most from it, here's our pick of the best software adds-on and accessories - from sound sweeteners to metadata manipulators.
Best of all, many of them are free...
€5 [shareware] • Wincent Colaiuta • Mac only
This nifty add-on lets you control iTunes from the Finder menu bar in Mac OS X 10.2 or later. Key features include a translucent pop-up screen showing the current playing track with album art, plus a list of recently played artist and track info in a drop-down menu.
Free • Last.fm • Mac and PC
Last.fm analyses the music in your iTunes library and finds similar music from other artists that you might like and / or shares your musical tastes with other Last.fm members. Key features include the ability to create custom radio stations and playlists. Different versions of the app are available for iPhone and iPod Touch users too.
Free • The Filter • Mac and PC
Just like the new Genius feature in iTunes 8 and Last.fm, The Filter serves up music recommendations based on your musical tastes - but can also serve up TV programmes, movies and web video too. The Filter also has a social networking element - which is great if you're struggling to find fellow Azimuth (ask your granddad) enjoyers online.
£17 • Manfred Schwind • Mac and PC
If you're forever reaching for the volume controls when playing music on your Mac, PC or iPod, then iVolume is for you. It analyses your music library and then adjusts relative sound levels for each track to give to a more uniform, and enjoyable, listening experience.
$30 • SRS Inc. • Mac and PC
If you're still fretting over the loss of Volume Logic for iTunes, this could be the next best thing. Like Volume Logic, iWow processes and enhances iTunes audio tracks in real time, giving you a wider stereo image, deeper bass and even 5.1-channel virtual surround sound.
Free • Barbarian Software • Mac and PC
The best ever visualiser for iTunes is now included with iTunes 8, but if you don't like the changes Apple has made, we have good news - you can still download the original version from the Barbarian Group's website. Just scroll down the Software page to find some carefully buried links hidden in replies to customer questions [via Gizmodo].
Free • Rodney Kerstetter • Mac only
If your iTunes library is stuffed with music videos, TV shows and movies, you'll be familiar with one of the most frustrating aspects of iTunes - its wilful tendency to classify everything as a 'movie', while also leaving out most of the metadata (artist, album, etc). MetaX solves all these problems and more.
Free • TZI Software • Mac only
This plug-in automates the tedious task of rating iTunes tracks. Getting the most from Smart Playlists in iTunes depends to a certain extent on the star ratings you give to your content. AutoRate analyses your entire library and then rates your songs according to how often you've played or skipped them.
From free • Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes • Mac only
Although you can create multiple libraries in iTunes, Apple's solution doesn't work particularly well. This app enables you to create separate libraries with accompanying Preferences files for each. The free version enables you to create two different libraries, stumping up the $10 shareware fee enables you to create many more.
Free • Apple • Mac and PC
If you're lucky enough to own an iPhone or iPod Touch, this little app gives you playback control over your entire iTunes library using both devices' built-in Wi-Fi connection. Artist, album and track info is displayed right on your iPhone or iPod Touch, along with cover art.
Free • FadingRed • Mac only
One of the worst things about iTunes is that you can't easily transfer content from your iPod into it - which you might need to do if your iTunes library goes 'phut' for some reason. Senuti's solution makes iPod to iTunes transfers a breeze, enabling you to synchronise individual tracks, playlists and metadata.
Free • iConcertCal • Mac and PC
This visualiser plug-in doesn't dazzle you with hyperactive visual effects, but rather serves up a list of upcoming concerts and album releases in your area. Clicking a link kicks you over to Amazon.com (where iConcertCal's creators get a cut if you buy something), or to a suitable concert promo site. UK integration is limited, but it's a great idea that works well.
€15 • Metaquark.de • Mac only
This great-looking alarm clock lets you wake to the sounds contained in your iTunes library, including smart playlists. Naturally you can set different wake up times for each day, set Aurora to snooze or even use it with an Apple Remote.
$25 • Tagtraum Industries • Mac and PC
Aimed at DJs and fitness fanatics, beaTunes automatically analyses and assigns Beats Per Minute (BPM) info to all the tracks in your iTunes library. This enables you to create custom playlists based on BPM. Other goodies include a metadata editor, social networking and blog integration, as well as music recommendations.
Free • fusd • Mac only
iTunes 8 now lets you view your music and movie library by genre, complete with artwork for each one. The problem is iTunes genres are pretty broad, which can be frustrating if your tastes are more specialised. iGenres gets around that problem by serving up artwork for a wide variety of sub-genres using user-generated content.
$25 • Zelek Software • Mac and PC
This makes light work of finding cover art for your iTunes Library - sometimes serving up better result than iTunes is capable of doing on its own. The PC version is definitely worthy of investigation, getting a 5 star rating on VersionTracker.com. However Mac users have been less kind, complaining that it's a CPU hog.
From free • SoundSpectrum Inc • Mac and PC
Another great alternative to the visualisers found in iTunes. This one uses wire-frame animation to create amazing 3D visuals - and even works well on a flat panel TV. It includes a wide-range of customisation options and a screensaver.
$4.95 • Maza Digital • Mac only
This app makes it a snap to find songs your iTunes library has lost - either because you've moved the library to a new hard drive or Mac, or simply just removed them from iTunes. iTunes Consolidator scans your Mac and finds tracks that iTunes is missing - and then gives you the option to add them back or to completely delete them.
$34.95 • Markelsoft • Windows only
If iTunes is taking over your hard drive, then you might want to try this - a sophisticated duplicates finder that helps you weed out identical tracks. It works better that the Find Duplicates function in iTunes, chiefly because it enables you to customise your searches. Mac users should try Dupin, which is similar.
Free • Fast Thinking • PC only
Launchy is the nearest thing Windows has to QuickSilver - an app that enables you to fire up applications using a few simple keystrokes. iTuny integrates iTunes control into Launchy, letting you play, pause, skip tracks and so on without having to resort to iTunes.
Free • Alex Sirota • Windows only
If you like to listen to music while you surf, this plug-in for Firefox and Internet Explorer could be just what you need. It offers basic playback controls for iTunes, as well as a wide variety of other media players. It even enables you to get access to related web content simply by using the right-click menu.