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iTunes Preferences

The iTunes preferences allow you to adjust a number of settings. From the iTunes menu, choose “Preferences....”

General preferences

Click the General button to see the General preferences.

  • Source Text and Song Text: Choose to use “Small” or “Large” text in the Source list and in the Detail window. The actual size difference between “Large” and “Small” is not dramatic.
  • Show: Select items to show them in the Source list.
  • Show genre when browsing: This option can be helpful when using the Browse feature (pages 217) to search through a large collection of music files. It adds a “Genre” column to the “Artist” and “Album” columns that become visible when you click the “Browse” button.
  • Group compilations when browsing:

    This creates an item in the “Artist” column of the Browser named “Compilations.” A compilation is a collection of songs that you choose to group together.

    To make any song part of a compilation, select the song, then press Command-I to open the Song Information window. Click the “Info” button, then click “Part of a compilation.” In the Browser, the song will appear in “Compilations” under its album name (see page 236).

  • Show links to Music Store: This makes the Quick Link buttons visible in iTunes’ Source list and Detail window. Quick Links are shortcuts to the iTunes Store.
  • Show content ratings in library: This allows you to see whether content you’ve purchased from the iTunes Store is “Clean” or “Explicit.”
  • Automatically download missing album artwork: This option allows you to configure iTunes to automatically download artwork for albums that are missing their album artwork. Albums that you import from a CD do not have album artwork automatically associated with them. Enable this option to automate the downloading of cover art.
  • Remember view setting for each source: This option allows you to preserve the view options you set for each source in the iTunes Source list.
  • Shared Name: Enter a name to identify your shared music collection when it appears in another user’s iTunes Source list.
  • Check for updates automatically: This option checks Apple’s web site to see if software updates are available for iTunes.

Podcasts preferences

Click the Podcasts button to see the Podcasts preferences.

  • Check for new episodes: This option checks Apple’s web site for new episodes of the podcasts to which you are subscribed. You can set iTunes to check every hour, every day, every week, or not at all.
  • When new episodes are available: Set iTunes to download all episodes, only the most recent episode, or to do nothing.
  • Keep: This tells iTunes which podcast episodes to keep. You can choose to keep all episodes, some episodes, or no episodes at all. iTunes deletes podcasts that it removes from your Podcast library.

Playback preferences

Click the Playback button to change how your music plays.

  • Check the Crossfade playback checkbox to fade music smoothly between songs without a long gap of silence. This effect is one of our favorites. The slider adjusts the amount of time it takes to fade out of one song and to fade in to the next song. Move the slider all the way to the right for the smoothest transition with the least amount of silence between songs.
  • Check the Sound Enhancer box to add depth and liven the quality of the music. The slider increases or decreases the effect, which is subtle but noticeable.
  • Check the Sound Check box to make all songs play at the same volume level.
  • Check the Play movies and TV shows box to set how iTunes displays this content. You can tell iTunes to play movies and TV shows in the artwork viewer, the iTunes window, a separate window, in full screen mode, or in full screen mode with visuals.
  • Check the Play music videos box to set how iTunes displays music videos. You can tell iTunes to play them in the artwork viewer, the iTunes window, a separate window, in full screen mode, or in full screen mode with visuals.
  • Audio language and Subtitle language lets you enable subtitles and listen to videos in a different language, if that option is available in the video.
  • Check Keep movie window on top of all other windows to keep your movies front and center. This is especially useful if you run applications that like to alert you throughout the day.
  • Check Show closed captioning when available to turn on closed captioning.
  • Use error correction when reading Audio CDs if you’re having problems with CD audio quality. Error correction slows the importing process, but may be helpful.
  • Use the Smart Shuffle slider to increase or decrease the likelihood of hearing back-to-back songs by the same artist when the shuffle option is turned on in iTunes. Leave the slider in the middle to keep the songs completely random.
  • Set the Shuffle option to “Songs,” “Albums,” or “Groupings” to shuffle individual songs, whole albums, or entire groupings.

Sharing preferences

The Sharing pane is where you enable iTunes to share music with others on a local network. Instead of copying music from another computer on your network, you can have it stream to you. Songs from one computer can play on another computer, but the song stays in its original location.

  • Look for shared libraries: Check this box and your computer will look for other Macs on the local network that have music sharing enabled.
  • Share my library on my local network: Select this option to make your iTunes Libraries or individual playlists available to others on the network. With this option selected, choose to Share entire library or Share selected playlists.

    If you choose to share selected playlists, put a checkmark next to one or more of your playlists that are shown in the window pane.

  • Require password: If you want to limit access to your shared music collection, select this option. Type a password in the text field, then give the password to certain people. When someone tries to access the playlist by clicking the shared playlist icon in his Source list, he’ll be asked for the password.
  • Status: This line of text reports how many users on the local network are connected to your shared playlist.

Store preferences

The Store preferences pane lets you choose how you want to interact with the iTunes Store, along with several other options.

  • Buy and download using 1-Click: If you have an Apple Account, when you click a song’s “Buy” button in the Music Store, the song is purchased and downloaded immediately. Very easy and convenient.
  • Buy using a Shopping Cart: This selection puts a “Shopping Cart” icon in the Source list, under the “Music Store” icon. All “Buy Now” buttons in the Music Store change to “Add” buttons. When you click a song’s “Add” button, the song is added to the shopping cart until you’re ready to buy. Then you can click “Buy Song” to purchase a single song in the shopping cart, or click “Buy Now” to purchase all items in the shopping cart.

    A shopping cart is useful for collecting songs you want to consider buying or for reviewing songs that your children have selected.

  • Automatically download prepurchased content: If you check this box, iTunes will automatically download any pre-purchased content when it becomes available.
  • Automatically create playlists when buying song collections: If you check this box, iTunes will automatically create a new playlist when you purchase an iMix collection.
  • Load complete preview before playing: If a slow Internet connection causes the streaming previews in the Music Store to stutter and stop, click this box to ensure a full-quality song preview. iTunes will download the complete preview stream before playing it.

Advanced preferences

The Advanced preferences pane consists of three panes—General, Importing, and Burning. The General pane allows you to designate a location for storing your music files, as well as set options for remote speakers and Internet playback.

  • iTunes Music folder location: Music files created by iTunes are automatically stored on your startup hard disk. Specifically, they are stored in a folder called “iTunes Music,” which is in a folder called “iTunes,” which is in your “Music” folder. This folder contains all of the music files you’ve encoded. You can change this default location to any location you choose: Click the “Change...” button and select another folder or hard disk.

    Every individual user account has an “iTunes” folder inside the home “Music” folder.

  • Keep iTunes Music folder organized: This places song files into album and artist folders (in the iTunes Music folder), and names the files based on the disc number, track number, and song title.
  • Copy file to iTunes Music folder when adding to library: Puts a copy of a song in the iTunes Music folder if you import songs from other locations on your computer. The original song remains in its original location. This is similar to the “Consolidate Library” command in the Advanced menu, which makes sure every song in your Library is stored in the iTunes Music folder.
  • Use iTunes for Internet music playback: This option sets iTunes as your default multimedia audio player when you download an audio file or click an audio file link on the web.
  • Streaming Buffer Size: Refers to the Radio Tuner and the iTunes Store preview songs. The buffer size determines how much streaming data is cached (temporarily stored) on your hard disk when you listen to an Internet radio stream or play a preview. The buffer is like padding that compensates for connection problems that can affect the quality of a direct stream. If your connection to the Internet is slow, change this setting from “Medium” to “Large.” A large buffer gives iTunes more downloaded streaming data to use for compensation as it deals with slow or faulty connections. If your connection to the Internet is high-quality, you can change this setting from “Medium” to “Small.” A small buffer can free up space on your hard disk. A small buffer size also enables a streaming file to start playing sooner.
  • Select Look for remote speakers connected with AirTunes if you have an AirPort Express connected to remote speakers. AirPort Express is a small device you plug into the wall, then connect to powered speakers. AirTunes is the technology that lets iTunes stream music wirelessly to the remote speakers through the AirPort Express.
  • Select Disable iTunes volume control for remote speakers if you want to control the volume of remote speakers from the remote speakers, instead of using the iTunes volume control on your computer. This can be very useful when the remote speakers are in a different room.
  • Select Allow iTunes control from remote speakers if you want to control iTunes from remote speakers, or a device such as the Apple TV.
  • When you click the green Zoom button in the top-left corner of the iTunes window, the window minimizes to a small, space-saving Mini Player. Select Keep Mini Player on top of all other windows to always keep the Mini Player visible and on top of other windows.
  • Visualizer Size: Set visualizer to appear within the iTunes window in one of three sizes: “Small,” “Medium,” or “Large.”
  • Select Display visualizer full screen if you want the visualizer to fill your entire screen.

The Importing pane allows you to set encoding preferences.

  • On CD Insert lets you configure the action iTunes will take when you insert a music CD into your Mac. iTunes can automatically play the CD, import the CD, or ask you if you want to import the CD.
  • Import Using lets you choose which encoder will be used to import music files: AAC Encoder, AIFF Encoder, Apple Lossless Encoder, MP3 Encoder, or WAV Encoder (these file formats are described on page 255). The default setting of AAC is ideal for listening to and sorting music on your computer, because it combines maximum compression (smaller file sizes) and good sound quality.
  • Setting is a quality setting. Higher quality settings result in better sounding audio files, but the resulting files can take up more space on your hard disk.
  • You can listen to a song as it’s being ripped (encoded) by checking the Play songs while importing or converting option. Encoding is very fast. The encoding of a song finishes well before the music has finished playing.
  • Automatically retrieve CD track names from Internet enables iTunes to connect to the Internet whenever you insert a CD so it can retrieve song titles and other information from CDDB, an Internet database of CD albums.

    If you choose to uncheck this option, you can still manually retrieve CD titles whenever you like: Connect to the Internet, then from the “Advanced” menu, choose “Get CD Track Names.”

  • Check Create file names with track number to force imported songs to be stored in your Music folder in the same order they appear on the CD.
  • Check Use error correction when reading Audio CDs if you’re having problems with CD audio quality. Error correction slows the importing process, but may be helpful in eliminating clicks and other audio imperfections.

The Burning pane allows you to set preferences for burning discs.

  • Preferred Speed: Set the speed at which your CD burner will burn CDs. The default setting of “Maximum Possible” lets iTunes adjust to the speed of your hardware. If you have problems, try setting “Preferred Speed” to a low number.
  • Disc Format: Choose a disc format for burning CDs.
    • Audio CD uses the standard CD-DA format common to all commercial CD players. You can store approximately 75 minutes of music on a CD using this format.
    • Gap Between Songs lets you set the amount of silence you want between songs.
    • Use Sound Check creates a consistent volume for all songs.
    • Include CD Text adds artist and track information to audio CDs. This information can be displayed on some special consumer CD players.
    • MP3 CD format can store over 12 hours of music, but can only be played on computers and some special consumer CD players. If you want to archive MP3 music files on CDs for backup, choose “MP3 CD” for the most efficient storage solution.
    • Data CD or DVD formatted discs include all files in a playlist, but may not work in many players. Use this option to make a backup of your music.
    • CD-RW (CD-ReWritable) discs will play in your computer, but most stereos and commercial CD players don’t recognize them.
    • CD-R (CD-Recordable) discs can play on computers and most CD players.
    • DVD data discs hold five times as many songs as CDs, but they aren’t playable on most consumer DVD players.
    • Discs must be blank to record music on them. You can erase a CD-RW disc and then use it to burn a music CD. CD-R and DVD discs cannot be erased, and they cannot be used if they already have files on them.

Parental Control preferences

The Parental Control preferences pane is where you can disable certain iTunes features. Restrict access to movies and TV shows, and turn off sources that younger members of the family don’t need to access. Set up a new User account on your Mac for a child, then set these parental controls in that account.

  • Sources: Select the sources you want to disable. The disabled items will not appear in the Source list.
  • Ratings for: Select your country to customize your preferences for your locations.
  • iTunes Stores: If you are making the iTunes Store available to your children, you can control the content they can access by restricting movies, TV shows, and explicit content.

Your settings will be visible after you click OK. However, to prevent your children from tampering with the Parental Control preferences, you should click the Lock. This will require anyone attempting to modify the Parental Control preferences to type an administrator password.

Apple TV preferences

The Apple TV preferences pane allows you to control how Apple TVs access your Mac.

  • Look for Apple TVs: Select this option if you’d like your Mac to automatically find Apple TVs in your household.
  • The following Apple TVs are allowed to connect to iTunes: Displays the Apple TV units that you have allowed to connect to your Mac in the past.
  • Remove Apple TV: To remove an Apple TV from your list, select it in the list, then click this button. In the future, the Apple TV will not be automatically allowed to connect to your Mac.

Syncing preferences

The Syncing preferences pane displays any iPhone and iPod backups stored on your Mac. It also controls how iPhones and iPods sync with iTunes.

  • The following iPhones and iPods are backed up on this computer: Displays the current iPhone and iPod backups that have been stored on your computer. See page 270 for information about restoring your iPod from a backup.
  • Remove Backup: Select a backup from the list, then click this button to remove it permanently from your Mac.
  • Disable automatic syncing for all iPhones and iPods: Select this option if you do not want iTunes to automatically sync information with your iPod or iPhone.
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