Make iTunes for Windows Launch and Run Faster

iTunes for Windows, over the years, has become bloated and runs painfully slow. Even with the “improved” version 11, but there are ways to make it faster.

iTunes for Windows started out as a great desktop program for your music. But after an enormous amount of added features, it has become bloated and runs painfully slow.

In fact, it has the most votes in our Ask The Readers: What’s the Worst Software You Can Think Of. There’s plenty of alternatives to iTunes out there – foobar2000 is my personal favorite — but if you’ve spent years invested in it, and don’t want to hassle of switching, you can make it run faster.

Delete Smart Playlists

One of the easiest ways to speed up the launch of iTunes is to delete the default Smart Playlists. After disabling them you should notice a remarkable difference in the startup time. You can make and transfer your own regular playlists and that doesn’t slow down performance like the Smart Playlists do.

Delete Playlists

Turn off Genius

If you don’t see a reason to use it, or haven’t turned Genius on in iTunes, then don’t. While it’s running it’s doing a lot of things in the background and taking up system resources.

iTunes Genius

Disable Device Syncing

Your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch are easily managed on their own without the need to plug them in to your computer. If you don’t use iTunes to sync and manage your device, go to Edit > Preferences and then click the Devices tab. Check the box Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically. That way, if you do have your device attached for some reason, iTunes won’t be wasting time looking for it and start throwing up options that are useless to you.

Device preferences

Get Rid of Duplicate Files in iTunes

Through the years you’ve probably grown a huge music collection, and chances are there’s several duplicates in your library. To weed out duplicates, click View > Display Duplicates. Be careful with this though as it might bring up duplicate songs from different albums. For instance you might have a song on an album, and the same song is on a “best of” collection.

Show Duplicates

Remove Library Columns

To help you get through your library faster, get rid of the column entries you don’t care about. While viewing your Library, right click one of the columns and uncheck the ones you don’t need showing up. On the other hand, maybe you find more columns useful in your navigation, just check additional ones.

This doesn’t necessarily make iTunes run faster, but can make your navigation experience much easier.

iTunes columns

Make Text Larger and Easier to Read

If you’re using iTunes on a smaller display, it can be difficult to read the text to see what’s going on. Or, maybe you just have poor vision. Either way, you can make all of the text larger in iTunes.

Go to Preferences and under the General tab, check the box “Use Large Text for List Views” and click OK.


These are just a few ways you can make iTunes run faster on Windows. Just disabling (and never using) Smart Playlists will speed things up quite a bit.

Do you have a tip for making iTunes faster that I missed? Leave a comment below and tell us what it is!



  1. Austin Krause

    October 9, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    The best way to make iTunes for Windows run faster is to uninstall it! Ahaha.

    But if you absolutely can’t go without it, these are great tips!

  2. Stuart

    October 9, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    I hate that bloated warthog of a program & only have it on one PC :) everything else is free of that monstrosity – good tips though, thanks

  3. Brian Burgess

    October 10, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Yes, I agree…don’t even use iTunes, but if you must — and some people actually do prefer it, especially if they have years of music, video and podcasts saved an organized in it, these tips will help it run much faster.

    Seriously, just getting rid of Smart Playlists makes it launch under 2 seconds, where with them enabled … I have waited up to 10 seconds for the stupid thing to launch.

  4. Gerald

    October 20, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Smart Playlists are one of the best parts of iTunes. If you can’t wait a few extra seconds for any program to launch then you need to slow down and take a breath.

  5. Bob Foss

    October 21, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    As an older iTunes user (I’m near 70), I’m a bit tech-challenged since I don’t even have a smartphone yet, but I’ve been able to quickly navigate iTunes 12, though it took me awhile to figure out how to delete, add, or copy/paste album artwork. Apple has done away with the simple right-click motion. It seems the iTunes Store doesn’t load quite as fast when you go from My Music (my library) but it is a cleaner look. The Get Info box is good looking but a bit less user-friendly than the iTunes 11 I feel comfortable with. I’m sure most readers are very tech-smart so they will master this quickly. I would recommend once you get to see it completely, your site could list the things to speed up iTunes 12 since it is a bit different than iTunes 11.

  6. theSplund

    October 24, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Probably the best thing about iTunes IS the Smart playlists – why would I want to convert my 100+ Smart playlists to manual ones when they do all my playlist ‘work’ for me? What would be good is the ability to toggle Live Updating globally though (tried accessing this via C# but it doesn’t seem to be ‘exposed’) – I did try programmatically creating all my playlists in a self built standalone app but it took so much time to rebuild them as ratings etc changed.
    Anyway, I’m sticking to (11 was a horrible experience) and have made a few ‘arrow’ tweaks, and even though I am fundamentally opposed to pretty well the whole Apple ethos, I do think the Video & Classic iPods, together with iTunes, are a very good combo. And don’t get me started on how poor/flaky I think WMP, Media Monkey, Synchios, Beatunes and Sharepod actually are – and I’m not a big fan of WinAmp* either- I’ve tried them all in a desperate attempt to cure myself of my need for any Apple software but, slow as it is, iTunes (10) does what I need so much better than anything else.
    (An avid Windows/Android/Ubuntu/Raspian user)
    *though I have just downloaded the SDK and may have a delve into that at some point.

    • theSplund

      September 9, 2018 at 11:14 am

      as an update to trhe above, I now have two iPods (one for the car, one for pocasts), and an FiiO and I sync smart playlists to ALL three devices (yes, even the FiiO!). I now also have Foobar, with many extensions installed to check my FLACs/ALACs, but still nothing has come close to the useability for managing a massive library (and as I’ve said before, I’ve tried many alternatives for Windows)

  7. Scott Bain

    September 22, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    I did all these things to no avail. But then, I went to:

    …and un-checked “Show Apple Music”

    Fast as the wind after that.

    Windows 7, 64 bit

  8. theSplund

    September 23, 2015 at 12:35 am

    @Scott – what iTunes version are you running? Only I don’t see that option.

    Windows 7 Pro 64bit, iTunes

    • Scott Bain

      September 23, 2015 at 10:38 am

      I’m running iTunes, which I believe is the latest update as of yesterday.

      Here is a screenshot of what I’m referring to. Hope this helps!


  9. theSplund

    September 23, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    @Scott : ah 12, that’ll be why – 11 was so awful that I rolled back to 10 and resisted every prompt to upgrade ever since.

    • Scott Bain

      September 24, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      Going back to 10 was my next thing to do if this has not worked. I really didn’t want to have to uninstall and resubscribe to all my podcasts (I’m primarily a podcast listener), but I was willing to if I had to.

      If 10 is working for you, I would not disturb it. I am *never* accepting an “update” from Apple again!

  10. Jim

    September 8, 2018 at 3:06 am

    I noticed very slow startup where the sync symbol (right top) “hung” for minutes. The solution was to go into Preferences and un-tick the box “Share my library on my local network”. As everything syncs through iCloud you don’t need this anyway. Startup is now super fast.

    • Steve Krause

      September 8, 2018 at 4:38 pm

      Great tip Jim. Thanks for the comment.

    • theSplund

      September 9, 2018 at 11:17 am

      Good shout Jim, I’ve just unticked it and, whilst it still feels a little slow, it does seem a bit quicker – nice one :-)

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