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iTunes and You

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To best understand what makes the iPod’s world turn, you must be familiar with how it and iTunes 8 work together to move music (as well as pictures, videos, and games, in the case of some recent iPods) on and off your iPod. In the following pages, you’ll see just that.

A high-performance automobile is little more than an interesting amalgam of metal and plastic if it’s missing tires and fuel. Sure, given the proper slope (and, perhaps, a helpful tailwind), that car is capable of movement, but the resulting journey leaves much to be desired. So, too, the iPod is a less-capable music-making vehicle without Apple’s multitrick media manager/player, iTunes. The two—like coffee and cream, dill and pickle, and Fred and Ginger—were simply meant for each other.

To best understand what makes the iPod’s world turn, you must be familiar with how it and iTunes 8 work together to move music (as well as pictures, videos, and games, in the case of some recent iPods) on and off your iPod. In the following pages, you’ll see just that.

Getting the Goods

You have three ways to get tunes into iTunes:

  • Recording (or ripping, in today’s terminology) an audio CD
  • Importing music that doesn’t come directly from a CD (such as an audio track you downloaded or created in an audio application on your computer)
  • Purchasing music from an online emporium such as Apple’s iTunes Store

The following sections tell you how to use the first two methods. The iTunes Store is a special-enough place that I devote all of Chapter 5 to it. The iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store gets its due in Chapter 6.

Rip a CD

Apple intended the process of converting audio-CD music to computer data to be painless, and it is. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Launch iTunes.
  2. Insert an audio CD into your computer’s CD or DVD drive.

    By default, iTunes tries to identify the CD you’ve inserted. It logs on to the Web to download the CD’s track information—a very handy feature for those who find typing such minutia to be tedious.

    The CD appears in iTunes’ Source list under the Devices heading, and the track info appears in the Song list to the right (Figure 4.1).

    Figure 4.1

    Figure 4.1 A selected CD and its tracks.

    Then iTunes displays a dialog box, asking whether you’d like to import the tracks from the CD into your iTunes Library.

  3. Click Yes, and iTunes imports the songs; click No, and it doesn’t.
  4. If you decided earlier not to import the audio but want to do so now, simply select the CD in the Source list and click the Import CD button in the bottom-right section of the iTunes window (Figure 4.2).
    Figure 4.2

    Figure 4.2 iTunes’ Import CD button: Let ’er rip.

    iTunes begins encoding the files via the method chosen in the Import Settings area. (You reach this area by clicking the Import Settings button in the General preferences tab.) By default, iTunes imports songs in “high-quality” AAC format at 128 Kbps. (For more on encoding methods, see the sidebar “Import Business: File Formats and Bit Rates.”)

  5. Click the Music entry in the Source list.

    You’ll find the songs you just imported somewhere in the list.

  6. To listen to a song, click its name in the list and then click the Play icon or press the spacebar.

Move music into iTunes

Ripping CDs isn’t the only way to put music files on your computer. Suppose that you’ve downloaded some audio files from the Web and want to put them in iTunes. You have three ways to do that:

  • In iTunes, choose File > Add to Library.

    When you choose this command, the Add To Library dialog box appears. Navigate to the file, folder, or volume you want to add to iTunes, and click Open (Figure 4.4). iTunes determines which files it thinks it can play and adds them to the library.

    Figure 4.4

    Figure 4.4 Navigate to tracks you want to add to iTunes via the Add To Library dialog box.

  • Drag files, folders, or entire volumes to the iTunes icon in Mac OS X’s Dock, the iTunes icon in Windows’ Start menu (if you’ve pinned iTunes to this menu), or the iTunes icon in either operating system (at which point iTunes launches and adds the dragged files to its library).
  • Drag files, folders, or entire volumes into iTunes’ main window or the Library entry in the Source list.

    In the Mac versions of iTunes, by default you’ll find songs in the iTunes Music folder within the iTunes folder inside the Music folder inside your Mac OS X user folder. The path to my iTunes music files, for example, would be chris/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music.

    Windows users will find their iTunes Music folder by following this path: yourusername/My Music (XP) or Music (Vista)/iTunes/iTunes Music.

You can use the same methods to add compatible videos and movies to your iTunes Library. Those videos will most likely appear in the Movies playlist in the Source list.

I say most likely because there are a few exceptions: Videos specifically designated as music videos appear in the Music playlist, and videos designated as TV shows appear in the TV Shows playlist. See the sidebar “Tag, You’re It” at the end of this chapter for information on how to apply those video designations.

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