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Take Control of iTunes 11: The FAQ
Take your iTunes know-how to 11!
Let iTunes expert Kirk McElhearn help you become an iTunes power user and get the most out of your audio, video, and book collections in iTunes 11.1. You'll also learn the best ways to transfer media to an iPad, iPhone, or iPod.
With a question-and-answer approach, Kirk shares his love of music and helps you understand the process of bringing media into iTunes, tagging it, adding album artwork, and organizing it into playlists. Once you've become an import specialist and tagging genius, you can enjoy your music, movies, audiobooks, and ebooks, and more without hassles.
Coupons in the back of the ebook help you save $5 off Equinux's SongGenie tool for adding missing metadata and $5 off Rogue Amoeba's Airfoil wireless audio streaming software.
Find answers to questions about how to:
Play: This chapter covers how to play audio and video, and how to make quick playlists with Genius and Up Next. It also describes how to bring back the left-hand sidebar. Or, you can learn to love the new Source pop-up menu.
Rip: Add content to iTunes with detailed steps for "ripping" music CDs and audiobooks. (If you want to rip—or tag—audiobooks so they play nicely from iTunes, don't miss this chapter!) Also, find general advice for ripping video DVDs and learn which file formats work in iTunes.
Buy: Become expert at managing and sharing iTunes Store media (including free podcasts and iTunes U courses), and understand what the iTunes Store does well—and not so well. Plus, discover other online music vendors, whether you want to download or stream content.
Tag: Kirk describes himself as "tag obsessed." If that description fits you, or if you just want to take control of your tags, this chapter is for you. Tags are descriptive bits of information—known to geeks as "metadata"— that describe your media. You can sort and filter based on tags, giving you myriad ways to manipulate your iTunes library. Learn which tags to bother changing, how to tag a file to put it in a particular library, how to add lyrics and album art, and more.
View: iTunes has more views than flavors of ice cream at the corner grocery. Get the scoop on how to switch between views, where your album art is (or is not), and so forth. This chapter also discusses plain-as-vanilla contextual menus and Apple's new menu flavor — the popover.
Organize: Make a simple playlist of romantic songs, workout songs, or whatever theme you like. Also, create smart playlists that, for example, comprise only your 5-star faves or tunes you haven't heard recently. You'll also find answers to questions about operational issues like dealing with a huge library, multiple libraries, and where iTunes sticks your files.
Search: Find media in iTunes, plus learn tricks such as searching based on star rating or locating duplicates.
Sync: You've put all your media in iTunes... now, how do you transfer it to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch? This chapter answers questions about manually managing the transfer and has help for people who have too much music. It also notes options for playing media through a second- or third-generation Apple TV.
Cloud: Access content you bought from Apple even if you never actively downloaded it, from your computer or an iOS device. Plus, try iTunes Match, a subscription service that uploads your music to the cloud even if you didn't buy it from Apple.
Share: Find answers to questions about sharing iTunes library media with others, primarily through Home Sharing on a local network.
Burn and Print: Learn how to copy music from iTunes to a CD. Also, get directions for printing a song list, for example, to include in the jewel case of said CD.
Back Up: This short chapter has tips and inspiration for backing up your (potentially irreplaceable) iTunes media.
Extend with AppleScript: Mac users can make iTunes do more with AppleScript. Learn about key AppleScripts that you can download to make iTunes jump through even more hoops.
Whether you are new to iTunes or a longtime user, I highly recommend Take Control of iTunes 11: The FAQ.
—Peter Bird, MyMac.com review
iPad & Kindle
About the Author
Kirk McElhearn is a freelance writer, specializing in Macs, iPods, iTunes, digital music, and more. In addition to having written or co-written a dozen books, he is a Senior Contributor to Macworld magazine and he contributes to several other Web sites and magazines. He reviews classical CDs for MusicWeb and audiobooks for Audiofile, and he is a translator from French to English.
Reviews of Previous Editions
Table of Contents
Read Me First
This ebook shows you what iTunes can do for you, how to bend it to your will, and how to take advantage of its powerful organizational features. This ebook has a special focus on audio and video, and it covers all aspects of organizing and tagging files, viewing content in iTunes, and creating playlists to sync to an iOS device. If you want to become an iTunes power user, this ebook is for you. This book was written by Kirk McElhearn, edited by Tonya Engst, and published by TidBITS Publishing Inc.
In January 2001, Apple introduced iTunes, which the company then described as, “the world’s best and easiest to use ‘jukebox’ software that lets users create and manage their own music library on their Mac.” This first version of iTunes offered limited features: it could play CDs; it could rip CDs in MP3 format only; it allowed users to “organize” and browse their music collections; it could burn CDs; and it could sync music files to MP3 players from Rio and Creative Labs.
This first version of iTunes was available only for Mac OS 9, but later that year, when Apple released the first iPod, a Mac OS X version was released. It wasn’t until October 2003 that Apple let loose a Windows version of the program, ensuring that non-Mac users could buy iPods and purchase music from the iTunes Store, opened earlier that year.
iTunes has come a long way since then. From being a limited MP3 ripping and organizing program, iTunes has become a media center that organizes music files (in several formats), videos, audiobooks, podcasts, and, with the advent of the iPhone and iPad, apps, ringtones, alert tones, and ebooks. Over time, iTunes added playlists, the Genius feature, enhanced organizational tools, and more. The iTunes Store became a vast digital marketplace selling music, movies, and TV shows, offering video rentals and podcast subscriptions, housing the hugely successful App Store, and, with the arrival of the iPad in 2010, selling ebooks as well.
With iTunes 10.3, released in June 2011, Apple added the ability to re-download content from the iTunes Store, and automatically download purchased content to computers and iOS devices. iTunes 10.5, released in September 2011, introduced Wi-Fi syncing for iOS devices, and in November, iTunes 10.5.1 included iTunes Match, a service that lets you sync your music library to the “cloud” and access it, theoretically, from anywhere. In short, iTunes had become a digital bazaar and a cornucopian tool for managing digital content on computers, on iOS devices, and in the cloud.
iTunes 11, released in November 2012, has a radical interface overhaul. Up until now, iTunes interface changes were incremental, but with iTunes 11, Apple has taken a new tack with the ways you can view and manage music. iTunes 11 also introduces Up Next, which allows you to queue music for listening; an overhauled MiniPlayer; an updated search; a new way of creating playlists; a re-designed iTunes Store; and much more. This book covers all those changes, and answers your many “Where did that go?” questions.
Over the years, iTunes has become complex and daunting to many users. While some basic functions, such as ripping CDs and creating playlists, are simple, the finer points of these features—such as which format and bit rate to use when ripping CDs, and how to create useful smart playlists—are arcane. iTunes has hundreds of discrete features, and understanding the subtleties of this program can be difficult.
I’ve long been a serious music fan, and over the years I’ve amassed a music collection that currently contains more than 100,000 tracks. I’m a big listener of classical music (more than half of my library), and one of my special loves is German art songs, or lieder (currently around 10,000 tracks), but I’m also a Deadhead (a fan of the Grateful Dead) and have hundreds of recordings of their live concerts. I like jazz, progressive rock, ambient music, vintage punk rock, and much more. I also regularly listen to audiobooks and podcasts, and I enjoy listening to audio recordings of Shakespeare’s plays.
I currently own an iPhone, several iPods, two iPads (maxi and mini), and an Apple TV. Over time, I have confronted the many hurdles that iTunes presents to using digital content on these devices. In addition, as a Senior Contributor to Macworld, I’ve written dozens of articles about using iTunes and iOS devices, notably for Macworld’s “Ask the iTunes Guy” column, which I write twice a month. (I’ve included links to some of my articles to provide more information than will fit in this book.)
In this book, I present much of what I’ve learned over the years about iTunes. The wide range of music I listen to, and the variety of content in my iTunes library, has challenged me to discover the most practical and efficient solutions to the problems of ripping, tagging, organizing, managing, and playing a large library of music. I’ve decided to write this book in a question-answer format, because a program like iTunes, which is used in a non-linear manner, lends itself to this type of approach.
There are several aspects of iTunes that I don’t deal with here. I don’t cover buying, organizing, or syncing apps for Apple’s iOS devices, as there are already several Take Control books on those subjects. I also don’t talk about the iTunes app or other apps used to listen to music on iOS devices. I do discuss syncing, but only to show you how to put media files—audio, video, and ebooks—on Apple’s iOS devices; I don’t cover how to sync other types of information, such as contacts, calendars, notes, photos, and so on.
If you’ve ever been frustrated while trying to wrangle your music, videos, podcasts, and audiobooks in iTunes, or if you’ve wondered how to get the most out of the program’s features, read on.
This Quick Start describes what you can learn in each chapter. You can go to the beginning of any chapter to view a list of that chapter’s specific topics. You can click (or tap!) any chapter title or topic listing to jump to the content.
Whether you want to play CDs or listen to music you’ve bought or ripped, iTunes gives you several ways of playing your music. You can control playback in the iTunes window or the MiniPlayer, among other options. Genius and Shuffle help you enjoy your music in different ways, and with Up Next you can queue music for a listening session. iTunes Radio lets you create your own “radio stations,” and listen to music streamed from the millions of songs in Apple’s huge library. You can also play media through other devices, connecting your computer to a stereo or streaming to a device connected to one, or to an Apple TV, and even control iTunes with Apple’s Remote app on an iOS device. Read Play.
When you first launch iTunes, its library is empty. When you rip, or import, a music CD, you add music to your iTunes library. You can then listen to it on your computer or sync it to an iOS device. But you can add more than just ripped music: you can rip audiobooks from CDs or add videos from DVDs that you own. Read Rip.
Ripping CDs is, for some people, so 20th century. Although I still buy a lot of CDs, I also buy a lot of music online, from the iTunes Store, Amazon, and others, including directly from many record labels. I’ll look at using the iTunes Store, as well as other vendors, to add music, videos, podcasts, and more to your iTunes library, and how the iTunes Store is integrated into your iTunes library. I also explain how to move digital content into iTunes. Read Buy.
Tagging media files is the most important thing you can do to take control of your iTunes library. You could just add all your music to your iTunes library and play it at random, but without correct tags, you’d never find what you want, and you wouldn’t be able to make unique smart playlists. I’ll show you the tags you can change, how to change them for single and multiple items, and how to streamline tagging so you can easily organize your library. Read Tag.
You’ve ripped and bought music and videos, and you’ve tagged your files. Now you need to choose the right view—or views—for your ever-growing media library so you can find what you want to listen to easily, especially if you want to do more than play songs by album or at random. Read View.
You’ve filled your iTunes library with digital content, and your iTunes window is displaying it the way you like best. Now you need to organize your content. iTunes does much of this for you, based on the tags your files contain, but you can do more. In this chapter, I’ll show you how to make playlists. I’ll look at smart playlists, which take advantage of tags to find just what you want to listen to. And I’ll talk about how iTunes organizes your files so you can find them if you ever need to. Read Organize.
The larger your library, the harder it is to find what you’re looking for. While there are ways to view content by Artist, Genre, or other criteria, sometimes you want to find a specific song, album or book quickly. In this chapter, you’ll learn how to search in iTunes. I’ll also explain how to tidy your library by weeding out duplicates. Read Search.
If you have an iOS device, iTunes is the tool you’ll use to put most of your media files on it, along with apps and other information. In many ways, how you set up your media library in iTunes reflects the way these files become accessible on your portable device. I’ll show you how to sync your favorite media files to your iOS device exactly the way you want to. Read Sync.
iCloud and iTunes Match give you new ways of accessing your content. You can have iTunes display all your iTunes Store purchases in your library, even if they are not on your computer. You can have new iTunes Store purchases download automatically to your computer or iOS device; re-download purchases you made from the iTunes Store; and, if you subscribe to the $25-a-year iTunes Match, you can put your entire music library in the cloud, so you can access it on other computers and iOS devices. Read Cloud.
iTunes is not only designed to be used on its own, but also to be part of a broader media network in a home or office. You can share your iTunes library on a local network, and other users can load your library over the network and play your music, watch videos, and listen to podcasts in your iTunes library. With Home Sharing, iTunes also offers an easy way for you to transfer media files from one computer to another at home. If you buy new music, or rip a new CD, others in your family can copy it to their libraries easily. Read Share.
You can use iTunes to burn CDs, thus copying your audio files to disc. But CDs are slowly going the way of the floppy disk, and fewer people use them for music these days. You may still want to burn CDs, however, to use in a car that doesn’t have a way for you to connect an iOS device, or in a portable boom-box type device. Read Burn.
Printing from iTunes is probably not the first thing you’d want to do with the program. But this feature can be useful: if you burn CDs, you can use iTunes to print inserts with album covers and song lists. You can also print lists of music in your iTunes library, by album or as a list of albums, to have a hard-copy list of your collection. Read Print.
No matter how you add content to your iTunes library—whether you rip your own CDs and DVDs or buy music and videos from the iTunes Store or from other vendors—this content is as ephemeral as all digital files. If you don’t back it up regularly, there’s a chance that you’ll lose it. Backing up media files is as important as backing up all the other files you have on your computer. Read Back Up.
iTunes does a lot; some people may say it does too much. But there are times you may want to go even further. If you use a Mac, then you can take advantage of AppleScripts to extend iTunes. This chapter gives you a taste of what these scripts can do for you, and tells you about some of my favorite AppleScripts. Read Bonus: Extend iTunes with AppleScripts.
Most of the new content in version 1.2 of this ebook relates to changes in iTunes 11.1, which Apple released in September 2013 in tandem with the release of iOS 7. iTunes 11.1 has one major addition, one interesting new addition, and one small new feature:
iTunes Radio is now available. This feature lets you create “radio stations” so you can listen to streaming music. A chunk of the Play chapter now looks at iTunes Radio, starting with How Can I Listen to iTunes Radio?. (You can subscribe to my shared contemporary classical station, if you like; see the sidebar, iTunes Radio and Classical Music.)
The new Genius Shuffle feature lets you start a random Genius playlist with a single click or keypress. I talk about it in What Is Genius Shuffle?. And, to better explain all the various shuffle options, I shuffled some old content with some new content into a new topic, How Can I Shuffle My Music?.
iTunes 11 now integrates with Notification Center, in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion or later. You can have Notification Center display banners or alerts when a new track starts playing. I tell you how to set this up in Can iTunes Tell Me What I’m Listening To?.
I also added a sidebar, Split Your iTunes Library across Multiple Disks, where I discuss TuneSpan, a utility that can help you migrate some of your iTunes media onto a separate volume.
Since this book was released, Apple has issued four minor updates to iTunes. Most of the modifications in these updates fix bugs and performance-related issues, but the iTunes 11.0.3 update, released on May 16, 2013, brought important changes to the following:
Album List View, which I had described in the previous edition of this book (covering iTunes 10), has returned, though not under that name. iTunes now offers a separate setting that allows you to display artwork in the list views, which makes these views more practical and less spartan. I discuss this in Songs View.
The MiniPlayer now has additional controls, and when you click the thumbnail of the album art for the currently-playing track, it displays album art in a larger window than formerly. I describe this in MiniPlayer. The MiniPlayer also has lost its AirPlay button; the only AirPlay button in iTunes is now found at the top of the iTunes window, next to the iTunes LCD. I discuss AirPlay in Can I Play iTunes Audio or Video over a Network?.
This version of the ebook also has a newly designed cover and an updated “purple” interior.
This ebook is effectively the third edition of Take Control of iTunes 10: The FAQ. That ebook went through two editions as Apple incrementally updated the software.
iTunes 11, released in November 2012, has undergone a major overhaul. Long-time iTunes users are likely to be disturbed by some of the new interface choices. This edition highlights new elements and features in iTunes 11 while still covering the core features of working comfortably in iTunes.
Here are the key changes in iTunes 11 and in this edition:
A visually striking change is the elimination of the left-hand Sidebar in the default view of the iTunes window. I describe the new Source pop-up menu that tries to take its place and how to view the traditional Sidebar in Source Pop-up Menu, Sidebar, and List.
The redesigned MiniPlayer window offers more control over playback.
When you shuffle, the mixed-up order of the songs no longer appears in the main iTunes window. Read How Do I Listen to Music from My Library or from a Playlist? for tips on shuffling.
If you can’t find the button for making a Genius playlist, you can find out what’s going on in How Do I Create a Genius Playlist?.
Up Next is a new feature that adds a play queue of your music. I cover it in How Do I Use Up Next?.
A new contextual popover menu offers a quick way to add music to Up Next, to use Genius, and more. I discuss this menu in How Do I Use Up Next?, How Do I Play Genius Mixes?, and What Can I Do with Contextual Menus?.
The iTunes Store experienced a number of changes at the time iTunes 11 was released, and there are now ways to access iTunes Store content from within your iTunes library. See Buy.
I’ve removed content about Ping, since Apple has discontinued it. Ping, introduced by Apple in iTunes 10, attempted to add social networking to iTunes.
If you rip your own DVD and import the file into iTunes, iTunes now tags it with the Home Video media kind. How Do I Put Files in the Correct Library? has more information.
Apple has removed many ways of viewing your content and added new views. I cover these extensively in View.
Apple has introduced a new way of creating playlists. Whether you use this method depends on how you display the iTunes interface, and I discuss this in How Do I Make a Standard Playlist?.
With new search features—available from both the main iTunes window and the MiniPlayer window—it seemed helpful to create a new chapter to discuss searching in your iTunes library. See Search.
I look at minor changes to the way you sync iOS devices in Sync.
iTunes 11 expands the iTunes in the Cloud features, and it introduces a way to have all your previous purchases show in your iTunes library, even if the files aren’t on your computer. See Cloud.
Kirk created this ebook using a Macintosh, but with Mac and Windows users in mind. With the exception of a handful of small points and the “bonus” chapter at the end about AppleScript, everything in the ebook applies to both the Mac and Windows versions of iTunes. Windows users who like to use keyboard shortcuts will want to keep in mind that some keys will be different in Windows. A sidebar in the "Read Me First" chapter points out the specific differences—Command on the Mac maps to Control in Windows, and Option (in iTunes) maps to Shift.
There are lots of great ways to read our ebooks on these devices. For more details, please read our latest Device Advice.
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February 20, 2013 --
Apple has released an update to iTunes, bringing it to version 11.0.2. In addition to the usual performance enhancements, the update also brings a Composers view to your Music library, though Apple has turned off this addition by default. Kirk explains how to view that view on his Kirkville blog.
—Michael E. Cohen
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