It worked! :D
First, huge kudos to Apple Support Forums user GanstaPenguin for posting steps to accomplish this rollback.
What I’m going to do here is note some particulars I ran into during the rollback, then post a detailed step-by-step guide of how to do this, integrating GanstaPenguin’s steps with what I ran into during the rollback.
Stuff I encountered: I had purchased four songs from the iTunes online store after the upgrade. Based on other comments on Apple Support Forums, I was careful to make backup copies of these tracks before attempting the rollback. I also made sure that Time Machine had made a backup of my hard drive, and that I had done nothing of significance since that backup. My rationale was that if something went wrong with the rollback, the easiest “undo” would be to simply restore the whole drive with Time Machine. After the rollback, I reimported the four new songs, and ended up with duplicate files in their corresponding folders in the “iTunes Music” folder. Fixing this proved to be trivial, and in the steps below, I’ll design things to avoid this duplication. In terms of iTunes configuration: In iTunes preferences, under the Advanced tab, I have “Keep iTunes Music folder organized” and “Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library” both checked. I learned that this is really the best option if you think you’re ever going to be messing around with the guts of iTunes. If you do not have those options checked, then some of what I list below is not going to work as I describe.
Playcounts, ratings and other customizations of items purchased after the upgrade were gone after the rollback. Playcounts can be fixed with a script that allows changing of playcounts. The other stuff is done manually. (If I remember where to find that playcount-changer script, I’ll post a link here. At the moment I don’t know where I got that, though—sorry.)
So, based on GanstaPenguin’s insight and my own experience with the rollback, here are extra-detailed steps on how to nuke iTunes 9 and get iTunes 8 back:
1) Make sure you have a valid backup. NEVER mess around with iTunes without a valid backup. I AM NOT KIDDING. Time Machine is the recommended backup method. You also need to make a note of the time of this backup, in case you get through all of this and want to undo it for some reason.
2) Go to <http://support.apple.com/downloads/iTunes_8_2_1> and download iTunes 8.2.1. Open the disk image and review the “read me” file until you are satisfied that this version of the program will, in fact, run on a G4, G5 or Intel Mac in spite of what the webpage says. :)
3) Identify which songs or other items you have purchased since you upgraded. If you care about play counts, ratings, etc., you’ll need to make a note of these somewhere. I used TextEdit. :)
4) Quit iTunes.
5) You’re going to move your recently purchased items to a different location, but to do that you need to actually find the files. You can use Spotlight to find them, or else hunt them down in the Finder (I do it that way because I hate Spotlight). For manual finding, look in the “iTunes Music” folder. Songs are mostly sorted by artist, then by album name. One song I bought was from a movie soundtrack—I found it in the “Compilations” folder. I don’t know how videos are organized—sorry. I’d recommend Spotlight for those, I guess.
6) Now the files need to be moved. What I did was to simply copy the .m4a files to another drive. Copying to another drive will leave the originals in their original locations, which is not what you want! If this happens, you’ll have to delete the originals yourself, after copying them. Another way would be to simply drag the files to the desktop or another folder on the same drive as your iTunes library, instead of copying to another drive. Whichever way you do it, the song files need to be gone from their locations in the iTunes Music folder, so that when you reimport them, you won’t end up with dupes. (Whether or not dupes would be a problem somewhere down the road is unknown. I prefer not to take the chance.)
7) Now you can delete iTunes from your Applications folder. You don’t have to empty the trash, although it won’t hurt if you do.
8) Go to your ~/Music/iTunes folder. Delete or rename the “iTunes Library” file.
9) Open the “Previous iTunes Libraries” folder and look for the backup of your old pre-9 library; it should be dated at about the time you first ran iTunes 9. Move it back out to the ~/Music/iTunes folder, and rename it to “iTunes Library”.
10) Go back to the disk image you’ve downloaded and run the installer application. Agree to whatever it says and wait for the installation to complete.
11) Start up iTunes. You can immediately satisfy yourself that the rollback has worked by accessing the iTunes store. When I did this, there was some delay—I am not sure if this was because it was confused over my rollback, or it was simply internet slowness. You can also check your “Purchased” list and verify that items you bought since the v9 upgrade have, in fact, disappeared.
12) Use the Finder to locate your saved copies of your recently purchased songs. The easiest way to get them back into iTunes is to select them all and do command-O (that’s the letter “O”, not a zero!). This will cause iTunes to reimport them. I suggest having your music sorted by “date added” when you do this, because the next step is manually dragging these tracks over to the “Purchased” list, so they show up there again.
13) Final step for me was restoring the play counts.
Out of curiosity, I also ran Software Update, and sure enough, it’s now recommending I upgrade to iTunes 9.0.3 again. I’m thinking I’m going to have to uncheck that option every single time I run Software Update, from now until I get a new computer that comes preloaded with a newer version. (Does a Snow Leopard upgrade force an upgrade to iTunes 9? I hope not.)
Final note—What to do if something goes wrong and you want to undo all of this:
Close all applications. Open a Finder window and navigate to the top level of your internal hard drive. Open Time Machine. Click the backwards-pointing arrow until you are at the backup dated right before you started the rollback procedure. Click the “restore” button. It shouldn’t take all that long to run the restore, since you won’t have made all that many changes. Disclaimer: I haven’t done this, since the rollback worked fine for me. However, this is what I would have done if I had not been satisfied.
So that’s that.
You know, this isn’t the first time I’ve been pissed off by an iTunes upgrade. The last time was a few years ago—I forget what the issue was at the time. I suppose it must have been less significant, because I eventually got used to it. However, after two irritating upgrades, I have learned my lesson. Never again will I blindly accept an iTunes upgrade without first researching it to see people’s reactions. The difficulty, though, is how to do that research. When I googled “iTunes 9 shopping cart” I got some pretty informative results, but if I hadn’t known to include “shopping cart” in my search, would I have found anything about it? What’s needed are really good, critical reviews of these upgrades.