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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 9 work together to move music (as well as pictures, videos, and games, in the case of some recent iPods) on and off your iPod. Christopher Breen shows you just that.
This chapter is from the book

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, 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 9 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

"Eep!" I hear you squeep. "I've never used iTunes or owned an iPod. I have no idea how to get music into iTunes, much less put it on my portable music player. What do I do?"

Relax. I'm not going to tell you how to put your music and movies on your iPod classic or nano until you know how to assemble a music and movie library.

I'll start with music. 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.

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.

    iTunes begins encoding the files via the method chosen in the Import Settings window (Figure 4.2 on the next page), which you access by opening iTunes' Preferences window (choose iTunes > Preferences on a Mac or Edit > Preferences on a Windows PC), clicking the General tab, and clicking the Import Settings button. By default, iTunes imports songs in iTunes Plus AAC format at 256 Kbps. (For more on encoding methods, see the sidebar "Import Business: File Formats and Bit Rates" in the next section.)

    Figure 4.2

    Figure 4.2 iTunes' Import Settings window.

  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 (Figure 4.3). Navigate to the file, folder, or volume you want to add to iTunes, and click Open. iTunes determines which files it thinks it can play and adds them to the library.

    Figure 4.3

    Figure 4.3 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 and Windows 7)/iTunes/iTunes Music.

You can use the same methods to add compatible videos and movies to your iTunes Library. (For more on what makes those videos compatible, see the sidebar "Working with Supported Video Formats" later in the chapter.) 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, videos designated as TV shows appear in the TV Shows playlist, and video podcasts are filed under Podcasts in iTunes' Source list. See the sidebar "Tag, You're It" later in this chapter for information on how to apply those video designations.

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