If you're a fan of Apple's new Ping service, then you'll be happy to see the new Ping Sidebar and Ping buttons appear when you install the new 10.0.1 update of iTunes. However, some of us think it all worked perfectly well before Apple decided to hop on the Social bandwagon.
Unfortunately, Apple have chosen to make these new features default and apparently mandatory in the new release. There's no user interface to disable Ping completely, and certainly no user interface to restore the old behaviour. It turns out that there are some hidden settings though.
Within five minutes of getting the software update, I was already hunting through the iTunes application code for some magic words to tap in to restore the status quo... and my sanity. I quickly found a number of candidates.
Now, to set these, you'll have to go under the hood, so to speak. If you're a techie, this shouldn't be a problem, but if you haven't done this kind of stuff before, I must stress that there's an slight element of risk here: one that's present whenever you open Terminal. If you're not comfortable with that risk, turn back now and learn to love the Ping. If you are willing to proceed, make sure you type exactly as I say, taking care to make sure capitalization, punctuation and spelling is correct.
To reiterate: DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK. Don't come whining if you break something.
Also, these instructions apply to Mac OS X only.
I'm sure there are similar settings for the Windows version of iTunes, but I've got no clue how to apply them, and frankly no desire to either. If you know, please comment on this post for the benefit of others.
Update: thanks to commenter Nikola and the original Apple forums poster
David Wolf1, here are the equivalent instructions for Windows.
Firstly, quit iTunes. I'm not sure if this is necessary, but it's a sensible move. You'll need to restart iTunes anyway before this stuff takes effect, and iTunes could undo your tweaks in the process. Secondly, start Terminal.app. This is an application that should be in the Utilities folder of your main Applications folder.
This should pop up a terminal window which looks something like this:
Now, type this into that window:
defaults write com.apple.iTunes disablePingSidebar 1
...and hit Enter. You shouldn't get a response, except for the command prompt repeated back to you (as below). If you get an error, I wouldn't recommending proceeding, but you can check and try again. The '1' at the end is a one, not a lowercase L.
That should disable the Ping sidebar. Now for the buttons.
defaults write com.apple.iTunes hide-ping-dropdown 1
That should remove the Ping buttons. However, the old-style arrow buttons need another setting to restore them:
defaults write com.apple.iTunes show-store-link-arrows 1
That one might sound familiar if you've done stuff like this to a previous version of iTunes... however, it's not exactly the same. The old setting was "show-store-arrow-links", and it defaulted to 1 (yes). The new "show-store-link-arrows" setting defaults to 0 (no), presumably to make way for the Ping buttons. I can only imagine they tweaked the wording just so the old setting didn't confuse the issue (!)
Finally, might I also suggest the following:
defaults write com.apple.iTunes invertStoreLinks 1
This setting switches the default behaviour of the arrow links. By default (well, by default in iTunes 10.0.0 and before) the arrows would send the user to the corresponding page in the iTunes Store, but you could also hold down Opt and click to be redirected to the corresponding list in your own library. In my opinion, this was an incredibly useful feature: you can navigate through your own library so quickly. The "invertStoreLinks" setting makes this the default, so you just click to navigate. Holding down Opt while clicking will take you to the store. I wholeheartedly believe that it was the UI designers' original plan, but Apple's synergistic greed hijacked the arrow for the purpose of hocking more media.
Anyway, I digress. Once you've set the settings you want, start iTunes, and all should be well. You can (and should) quit Terminal at this point.
Now, to reset it all to Apple's defaults... you can either do the same lines as above but replacing '1' with '0', or you can delete the settings by changing "write" to "delete" and removing the 1 from the end:
defaults delete com.apple.iTunes disablePingSidebar
defaults delete com.apple.iTunes hide-ping-dropdown
defaults delete com.apple.iTunes show-store-link-arrows
defaults delete com.apple.iTunes invertStoreLinks
(after quitting iTunes, of course)
That should get things back to "normal" and Ping will return in all its glory. Best of luck to you.
UPDATE for 10.2.2: After prompting from a commenter, I've re-ran the commands on 10.2.2 and it still seems to work. Oh well.