Automatic Spanning

informationen shared this idea 12 years ago

Automatic Spanning with adjustable conditions

(Movies only, files bigger than 1GB, audio books, ...)

Replies (17)


I would love Automatic Spanning, being able to say that all Movies, or TV Shows go to THAT Drive for example, would be great!



Agree! This would absolutely ROCK!! :)

Besides, we already got the Helper running... :)


I agree that automatic spanning would be a great feature. I want to work on it in the future, but right now I am hard at work cleaning up and solidifying the current feature set. I have been taking a break from TuneSpan for the past little while, but put a whole lot of work into what will be version 0.9.5 and am very happy with the results so far.

TuneSpan Helper will no longer be necessary in 0.9.5 but will still be included... later TuneSpan Helper will be entirely removed with version 0.9.6 or so. If I decide to put TuneSpan on the Mac App Store, secondary background applications included within an app like TuneSpan Helper are forbidden. But if in the future there is a need for a background application like TuneSpan Helper, it could be an alternate download of some kind. Also, it would probably be a whole new application suited just to help with auto-spanning.

Anyway, I have quite a bit of work that I want to get done to get TuneSpan to version 1.0, and I am not sure if automatic spanning will be a feature of 1.0, but it is on my mind, and it will come one day in one form or another.

Thanks so much for your interest, ideas, and for using TuneSpan.

Feel free to continue to talk about auto-spanning if you have anymore suggestions or ideas. I will keep an eye on this and post back if I have anymore updates.


Marking this idea as Planned, it will happen one day, but I still cannot give a timeline.

I mention TuneSpan version 0.9.6 beta above, it has just been officially released with nice additions, but still no automatic spanning.



bug or feature:

the apps for iOS from the app stores are not span-able

ringtones for the iOS devices ditto

the ebooks bought via the Appstore are grayed and not selectable for spanning


about "automatic" spanning - i used a similar method on my PC/Ubuntu boxes

to move my media files to different locations .... using "hard" linked entries in the original media folder structure ...

in windows there is a progie called steam that creates hard linked (joined) folders .. so if there is a new entry the OS writes the file to the hard linked folder and creates an entry (link) in the original folder ....

in Ubuntu there are join tools and apps that work in a similar way ....

as joint links are standard in UNIX/BSD/Linux i guess it should be makeable in osx as well ... updating the iTunes Libraries might be the hard to do issue here...



Thanks for commenting!

About iOS apps and others not being spannable. That is a limitation that I have no control over. I wish I could do something about it, but iTunes does not include those in the readable XML iTunes Library file. I have a section about it in the Mac App Store description:


Unfortunately, TuneSpan can't span files that aren't included in the readable XML iTunes Library file. TuneSpan has no access to the following files; they are left untouched and unchanged:

Mobile Apps, Rented Movies, Ring Tones, Text-Based Books, iTunes LPs, and iTunes Extras

Also, for SD and HD versions of a video, only one at a time can be spanned (the one that's currently selected in iTunes).


About automatic spanning... I do not believe using hard links, or symbolic links would give the flexibility I want to offer. I want a Smart Playlist of whatever criteria to be able to be auto spanned, or a regular Playlist to always be auto spanned to a location. So whenever anything changes in that playlist, the stuff gets spanned, or if something gets removed from the playlist, it gets restored.

It will be tricky to pull off elegantly, but I'm up to the challenge. Hard links would only work for a specific Media Type or Artist or Album, if the media was already cleanly organized in the normal iTune folder organization. But, that's not a guarantee.

In fact, a very old version of TuneSpan used symbolic links for each file before I could simply set locations in iTunes. It was an interesting solution, but a sloppy one. There could be a lot of link files left over on the file system that the user would not necessarily want lying around, so I had a helper app remove all the symbolic links with iTunes quit and re-add them when iTunes launched. It was a pain, I am glad to be past that phase. I do not want to bring back any file system stuff that will be confusing to normal users. Now, it's simple a file is copied, the location updated in iTunes, the original file trashed (if the users has that option on). I do not want automatic spanning to stay from that simplicity.

Automatic spanning criteria will be defined within TuneSpan and if I do a helper app, it will be running and notify you when things have changed and files can be auto-spanned. Without a helper app, the criteria would be checked whenever you launch TuneSpan and you would be notified of what has changed and what can be auto-spanned.

Again, thanks for getting in touch with your thoughts, it has got me thinking about a few things that I will need to figure out. Auto-spanning (especially auto-restoring) could get pretty tricky with overlapping criteria or when a lot has also been manually spanned that may overlap the auto-span sets. I have some thinking to do.



Any news on this front? I recently purchased TuneSpan to manage my iTunes library across my rMBP and my Thunderbolt RAID array - it's working great, but separating my less-used content from the files I want to keep on my computer is extremely tedious - especially when it comes to content that is updated regularly (podcasts and TV shows).

A Smart-Playlist style auto-spanning feature would literally double the value of this app - I'd be willing to pay again (and more!) for such functionality. As it is, I'm looking at having to fire up TuneSpan more and more frequently to shuffle my files around - which starts to feel awfully manual after a while.



No news yet. Thanks so much for purchasing TuneSpan! It's great to hear that you're using it so often and that it's so useful for you!

This idea was posted years ago now, and A LOT has changed in TuneSpan since then. Still, I'm hammering away at things and trying to make TuneSpan better and better, but it's just me working on this, and it all takes time.

Lately, I've been hard at work on another TuneSpan update after just recently releasing TuneSpan 1.0.4. I believe I'll call this TuneSpan update I'm working on version 1.1, but I'm sorry to say, it won't include Automatic Spanning.

This new version will check a lot of things off my list that I've wanted to do in TuneSpan for a long time. All new Spanning View, improved Span Results, full-screen mode, more integrity checks during the span and alerts for certain situations that can cause issues.

These are all things that I've wanted to get done for a long time, and I thought it would be best to finally knock them out and have TuneSpan in a state I'm really happy with before moving on to this next big feature, Automatic Spanning. I still can't give a deadline on when it will happen, but after this update, it's next on the list of things to do in TuneSpan.

That being said, it's a very complex feature, there a lot of situations to consider and a lot of possible issues I can imagine. For instance, if some tracks are auto-spanned, and then someone chooses to restore a few of them, I don't want TuneSpan to keep alerting them about auto-spanning those same tracks again. That's a relatively simple situation, and there are other more complex ones that are possible, but I'll need to track all that stuff in TuneSpan and make sure I know what's been auto-spanned and what's been manually spanned, it may required a change to the TuneSpan database, which is always a delicate situation, I don't want to risk anyone losing data on the update. Also, I need to make sure I come up with a failsafe way to avoid conflicts, what is some tracks are in multiple auto-span sets to go to different places? Where do the files go? I'm not saying these situations are holding me back from doing automatic-spanning, just saying it will take time to cover all the bases and make sure it works as it should in all possible situations.

But, in the mean time, why not make some smart playlists in iTunes of the things that you want to be spanned, or not spanned? Then when you open up TuneSpan, you can always just drag-and-drop that playlist and span it (to remove everything in a playlist from the Spanning Queue, hold Option while dropping it on the Spanning Queue, that's an easy way to make sure some files are never included in a span). Anything already spanned will be skipped, you don't need to pick out the things that haven't been spanned. Same with media types, if you want all Podcasts spanned, just drag straight from the Podcasts button and add all Podcasts to Spanning Queue, anything already spanned will be skipped. Of course, same with TV Shows.

Also, have you used the Span Filter drop-down menu in left of the toolbar? You can use it to quickly view what's been Spanned, Restored, Never Spanned, etc.

PS. I DO NOT plan on having automatic spanning be a paid update to TuneSpan! I appreciate the sentiment, but if all goes to plan, automatic spanning will be a free update in TuneSpan version 1.2, hopefully sometime in 2013. :-) I really don't think its a good idea to give deadlines on software. It only adds unnecessary pressure. I will work on the feature until I feel that it's done right, and release it after it's been thoroughly tested.


Thanks for the update, Pico. As a developer myself I completely understand your concern, and certainly it makes sense to get the app in a state you're happy with before taking on a major feature like auto-spanning.

I've taken your advice of using smart playlists to sort out the content I want spanned. The biggest issue I have is that, AFAIK, "Release Date" isn't an available filter for smart playlists, which makes it difficult to sort out things like old podcast episodes (date created works to a degree, but not in the scenario where I've downloaded an entire podcast or iTunes U collection and want to span the episodes released last year, for example).

Then again, I'm not sure whether iTune's limitation (no filter on Release Date) might carry over to your app as well, so perhaps I shouldn't hold that against TuneSpan anyway.

Thanks again for your most helpful reply. Oh, and like I said, I am a developer (Java but I'm transitioning into Cocoa/Obj C), so if you ever want a beta tester... ;)


Hmmm, I never noticed Release Date isn't an option in the Smart Playlist criteria in iTunes. That's unfortunate! I wonder why they didn't include it.

I had been wanting to start automatic spanning with simple criteria such as a media type or a playlist to a certain location. Thus, allowing the Smart Playlist in iTunes to do some of the heavy lifting. But, this may be a reason to go all out and write my own smart-playlist-like criteria from the start. I'm glad you brought that to my attention, I will continue thinking about it when I get around to working on auto-spanning.

I appreciate your offer to help test! If you are interested in checking out what I'm working on now and helping to test this version, get in touch with me at pico {at}


Just started using Tunespan and got all my files organized over two drives very nicely. Now I really need an AutoSpan feature to set some simple criteria of where to keep each file type. Hope you get time to work on this very soon.


Thanks for the encouragement!

I know it's kind of crazy that this feature was requested FOUR YEARS(!!!) ago now, and it's still not in TuneSpan.

The thing is, it would have been a lot easier if I had worked it in from the start. But this started as a somewhat experimental learning project years ago and evolved and evolved and evolved.

Some of the choices I made early on were hard to migrate away from, and as things changed with iTunes and my knowledge, other areas needed improvement before I felt it would be wise to incorporate auto spanning.

Of course, TuneSpan is currently in a very good place, but there are still a few internal changes that need to be made before auto spanning will be ready to be added. As always, I can't give a deadline, but I hope that I can make it happen without too much more insane delay.

I have plans for a version 1.2 that WILL NOT incorporate auto spanning, but will have some nice new features that also internally lay some groundwork for auto spanning.

I believe version 1.3 will be the one that adds auto spanning. Of course, this is not a guarantee and gives no timeline to deadline with how long these version will take. But, at least is something you can look out for.

At this point, I hope it's not too inconvenient to load up TuneSpan and make your selections of what you want where after you've added new media to iTunes.


Hi Pico, it's not too inconvenient I suppose, it's just something I want to set and forget about for a while until I see one of my disks nearing capacity again. Good to hear its stii on the agenda!


Hey all, I wasn't expecting to have news about automatic spanning so soon, but I have some very exciting news!

I've added AppleScript support to TuneSpan!

While this is not the "automatic spanning" with a nice graphical interface in TuneSpan that I've been planning (and am still planning on implementing in the future) this opens up the door to some very cool automated options with TuneSpan.

I've attached a screenshot of my AppleScript commands so you can see that they are pretty powerful. For example you can give a SQLite style predicate for TuneSpan to select a set of tracks to span (such as "( MediaType == 'Movies' ) AND ( IsSpanned == 0 )" and you can also do LIKE queries for lots of power), you can start a span without confirming first and have TuneSpan quit after so it feels very seamless. Also, you can supply an array of Persistent IDs of tracks from iTunes to span so that you can get the current selection from iTunes and span them. And, of course, you can supply a Span Location to span to, but by default TuneSpan will use the current Span Location. These AppleScripts can be activated from the Scripts menu in iTunes as well.

I've also attached a screenshot of the basic set of scripts that I've already made that live in my iTunes scripts menu.

So, I'm curious if any of you are savvy with AppleScript and would like to help test this stuff out. I was planning on releasing a minor 1.1.8 update, but this may be a big enough addition to make it 1.2. So, I may skip the minor updates and keep working on some other stuff and go straight to 1.2. It would be great to have some testers working with this AppleScript before release so that I can work out any kinks and maybe come up with new basic AppleScripts for TuneSpan.

I plan on making all of my AppleScripts for iTunes available on my site after release, and hopefully but together some basic documentation about the kinds of predicates your can query for, etc.

So, please post back here, or get in touch directly at if you have any ideas or would like to help test AppleScript in TuneSpan.


If its of any help, i could test the movie and tv-show related scripting. Currently i am manually spanning all watched movies and tv-shows over to my time capsule via a smart playlist (play count > 0). If this could be automated, that would be great.


Just wanted to let you all know that the next version of TuneSpan (1.2) will support basic automatic spanning and restoring.

I wrote a simple interface to piggyback on the internal AppleScript support code that will also be new in 1.2.

So, this is not the more sophisticated "Smart Spanning" that I have planned (and still plan) for the long term future. But, it should be very nice to have in the near future.

At this point, you'll be able to select media types and playlists to have automatically spanned. So, with Smart Playlists in iTunes, you'll be able to use all that flexibility to create sets of tracks to span.

I have this code working already, but I have more testing and refinements to do before I release TuneSpan 1.2.

If anyone is interested in helping to test this automatic spanning out, please get in touch,


I'm very pleased to say that TuneSpan 1.2 is now available on the Mac App Store and features basic Automation on launch.

The configuration options are pretty basic at this point, just media types and playlists. But, by creating Smart Playlists in iTunes, you have quite a bit of flexibility. But, these features will evolve over time, this is just the beginning.

TuneSpan 1.2 also features AppleScript support which you can check out here:

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