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Setting iPod Preferences

Now that your media is organized, it's time to put it on your 'pod. The conduit for moving music, podcasts, audiobooks, videos, and (for some models) applications and games to the iPod is iTunes—which, fortunately, can be fairly flexible in the way it goes about the process.

You have several ways to configure iTunes so that your iPod is updated when you want it to be. It's just as possible to configure iTunes so that only the music and videos you want are copied to your iPod. The key is the iPod Preferences window.

To start, plug your iPod into your computer, and launch iTunes. (By default, iTunes launches when you connect the iPod.) The iPod appears under the Devices heading in iTunes' Source list (Figure 4.11 on the next page). To open the iPod Preferences window, select the iPod in the Source list.

Figure 4.11

Figure 4.11 Two iPods in iTunes' Source list.

Within the iPod Preferences window, you'll find nine tabs if you have a 5G iPod, 3G or 4G iPod nano, or any iPod classic: Summary, Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, iTunes U, Photos, Contacts, and Games. If you have a 5G iPod nano and have established a Nike+ account because of the pedometer, you'll see a tenth tab called Nike + iPod. If you have a color iPod that doesn't offer video (including 1G and 2G iPod nanos), the Movies, TV Shows, and Games tabs will be absent. For monochrome iPods, the Photos tab will also be missing.

At the bottom of the window, you'll see the Capacity bar (Figure 4.12), a thermometerlike display that details how much media is on your iPod. With any of today's display-bearing iPods plugged into your computer, you'll see entries for Audio, Video, Photos, Games, Other (data such as files you've copied to the iPod, notes, contacts, and calendars), and Free.

Figure 4.12

Figure 4.12 iTunes' Capacity bar.

Here's how the tabs shake out.


In iTunes 7 and later, the Summary tab (Figure 4.13) provides such details about your iPod as its name, capacity, software version number, serial number, and format (Macintosh or Windows). It also tells you the version of the iPod software it's running and offers you the option to update that software if newer software is available or to restore your iPod (essentially, erase its contents and give it a new operating system). I cover the ins and outs of restoring your iPod in Chapter 9.

Figure 4.13

Figure 4.13 The Summary tab.

Open iTunes When This iPod Is Attached

Most likely, you're going to want to sync or otherwise muck with your iPod when you plug it into your computer. This option saves you the trouble of launching iTunes manually.

Sync Only Checked Songs and Videos

This option gives you fine control of which files you sync to the iPod. Checking the box for this option lets you prevent files from loading onto the iPod by unchecking the small check boxes next to their names in playlists and library lists.

Manually Manage Music and Videos

This small option offers a lot of power. To understand its usefulness, it's helpful to know that by default, when you sync iTunes and the iPod, iTunes moves only the files you ask it for onto the iPod and erases everything else from the device. This arrangement can be a real bother if you've moved your iPod from one computer to another and the contents of the second computer don't match those of the first.

Managing files manually allows you to add music (and videos, for compatible iPods) to your iPod without erasing any other media. When you select this option, all the playlists on your iPod appear below the iPod's icon in the iTunes Source list. (For the sake of simplicity, I'll say that the Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, and Audiobooks entries count as playlists.)

To add media files to the iPod manually, just select them in one of iTunes' playlists, and drag them to the iPod's icon in the Source list or to one of the iPod's standard (not Smart) playlists. You can also drag files from your computer's desktop directly to the iPod, which copies the media to the iPod but not to your iTunes Library.

Optionally, you can add songs by genre, artist, or album by using iTunes' browser. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. In iTunes, choose View > Show Column Browser (Command-B in Mac OS X, Ctrl+B in Windows).

    An Artists pane appears between iTunes' Source list and the main window. By choosing View > Column Browser, you can choose to show (or hide, if they're shown) Genre and Albums columns as well.

  2. Click an entry in one of the columns.

    If you want to copy all the Kate Bush songs in your iTunes Library to the iPod, for example, click Ms. Bush's name in the Artists column. To copy all the reggae tunes to the iPod, select Reggae in the Genres column.

  3. Drag the selected item to the iPod's icon in the Source list or to a playlist you've created on the iPod.

To remove songs from the iPod, select the songs you want to remove within the iPod entry in the Source list; then press your keyboard's Delete key (or Control-click on the Mac or right-click for Windows, and choose Clear from the contextual menu). Mac users can also drag the songs to the Trash.

You can even copy entire playlists to other playlists by dragging one playlist icon on top of another. This method works for both iTunes and iPod playlists, though you can't drag a playlist on the iPod to an iTunes playlist and expect the songs to copy over. Under most circumstances, tracks on the iPod don't copy to your computer (unless you know the tricks detailed in Chapter 8).

But wait—there's more. iTunes 9 lets you expose an Artwork column. To reveal it, either click the small, right-pointing triangle that appears just to the left of the Name column in List view or choose View > Show Artwork Column. This column holds the leftmost position in iTunes' main window and displays an album's artwork with the album's track names in the next column to the right. This view is handy because you can click the album artwork and drag it to the iPod, thus copying all the files on the album to the device.

Want more? Okay, how about two additional views: Grid and Cover Flow? Click the second button in the View palette at the top of the window to see Grid view; Cover Flow view appears when you click the third button. When you click the Grid button, you can view your music in Albums, Artists, Genres, or Composers view. You choose these views by entering Grid view and then choosing Grid Views from the View menu.

These views work this way.

Albums. Each album cover in the selected entry (music or a playlist) is displayed (Figure 4.14). Mouse over the cover, and a Play Album entry appears. Click the Play symbol in this icon, and the album begins playing from the first track. Double-click an album cover, and a page opens that displays the album cover and the tracks on the album.

Figure 4.14

Figure 4.14 Albums displayed in Grid view.

Artists. When you select Artists, you'll still see album covers, but those covers will be grouped by artist. If you have tracks from more than one album by an artist, select an artist and roll your mouse horizontally over the cover; the album covers will change to reflect all the artist's album entries. A Play Artist entry also appears. Click the Play symbol in it, and iTunes begins playing the first track from the first album title, sorted alphabetically.

If you don't care for the idea of displaying all your Springsteen albums under a single icon and, instead, would like to see all the album covers separately but together, feel free to view by album and then use the sort-by-artist-within-albums tip I just offered.

Genres. Seeking a quick way to find all the World music in your iTunes Library? Select the Genres entry, and you'll see the selected playlist's music categorized by genre. (Those songs must have their Genre tag filled in to appear in this view, however. See the sidebar "Tag, You're It" earlier in this chapter for more information on tags.) For common genres, you'll see custom icons provided by Apple—Rock, Soundtrack, and World, for example. If tracks have a less-common genre type assigned to them—such as Ska, Metal, or Fusion—you'll see the album cover for a track tagged with that genre or with iTunes' generic eighth-notes icon.

As in Artists and Albums views, select an icon and move your mouse over it horizontally, and album covers appear. Click the Play symbol within the Play Genre entry that appears over selected icons to play all the music within that genre. Music is organized alphabetically by the artist's first name.

Composers. You know the drill by now. Tracks are organized by composers when those tracks contain a Composer tag. If not, you'll find the remaining tracks listed under Unknown Composer. Click the Play symbol in the Play Composer entry to play. Tracks are organized first by artist and then by album title. If you choose the leader of The Who, Pete Townshend, his solo albums come first in alphabetical order; then come The Who's albums in alphabetical order.

Cover Flow view is kind of a lazy-Susan affair that represents your library as a series of covers (Figure 4.15). You can move music from these views to your iPod simply by dragging the cover art from the view to the iPod's icon. The contents of that album, video, or podcast will be transferred to the iPod.

Figure 4.15

Figure 4.15 Cover Flow view.

Enable Disk Use

The iPod is, at heart, an elegant storage device that happens to play music (and in some cases, slideshows and videos too). You can mount all iPods (except the iPod touch) as a hard drive on your computer by enabling this option. When the iPod is mounted, you can use it just like a hard drive; copy files to it as you desire.

Voice Feedback (5G iPod nano and 3G iPod shuffle only)

The 5G iPod nano and 3G iPod shuffle have the ability to talk back to you. Specifically, they can recite the names of the devices' menus and commands (nano) as well as playlists, tracks, artists, and albums (both nano and shuffle). For that to happen, you must switch on the iPod's Voice Feedback feature.

The 5G iPod nano includes three options under the Voice Feedback heading:

  • Enable VoiceOver. Enable this option, and you'll be prompted to download the VoiceOver Kit for the language your computer speaks (as determined by the language preferences set on your Mac or PC). Then sync your iPod. When you click the iPod's Center button while a track is playing, the music will fade a little, and a voice will announce the track's name and artist.
  • Enable Spoken Menus. When Spoken Menus is enabled in iTunes and on your iPod, the name of every item the 5G iPod nano encounters will be spoken. This feature isn't for everyone, as it's somewhat intrusive, but if you're vision-impaired or blind, it's priceless.

    It's also worthwhile to switch on when you're driving with an iPod. Taking your eyes off the road to navigate an iPod's interface is a very bad idea, and now, thanks to Spoken Menus, you can navigate the device without looking at it.

  • Use System Voice Instead of Built-In Voice. If you don't care to use the voice that comes with the VoiceOver Kit that iTunes downloads, you can enable this option, and the iPod will speak using the voice currently set in your computer's speech preference. For the Mac, you'll find this setting by choosing System Preferences from the Apple menu or the Dock. On a Windows PC, look in Control Panels.


The Music tab (Figure 4.16) contains options for syncing music and music videos to your iPod. With iTunes 9, Apple has completely redone the interface in this and other media windows, making it easier to get exactly the media you want onto your iPod.

Figure 4.16

Figure 4.16 The Music tab.

Enabling the Sync Music option tells iTunes that you'd like it to sync its music collection to the iPod automatically. If you've enabled the Manually Manage Music and Videos option in the Summary tab, enabling the Sync Music option overrides the Manual option (iTunes will ask you whether you're sure you want to do this). When you've chosen Sync Music, you then have the choice to sync your entire music library or just selected playlists, artists, and genres.

Any songs currently on the iPod that aren't in the iTunes Library or in the selected playlists are erased from the iPod.

Why choose selected playlists, artists, and genres rather than your entire music library? Your iPod may not have the capacity to hold your entire music collection. This option is also a good one to use when several members of your family share an iPod, because it allows you to chunk a music collection into multiple playlists and then rotate those playlists in and out of the iPod.

When you enable the Selected Playlists, Artists, and Genres option, you get three scrolling lists: Playlists, Artists, and Genres.

  • Playlists

    This list includes all the playlists in your iTunes Library. If you have a 5G iPod nano, Genius Mixes are also included. (As I've told you, Genius Mixes aren't supported on iPod classics as I write this chapter.) Bear in mind that each Genius Mix contains 250 tracks. If you choose to sync more than a couple of these mixes, there goes all your iPod's storage.

    To sync playlists to your iPod, just enable them in this Playlists list. If you created a folder full of playlists by choosing File > New Playlist Folder and then enabled that folder, all the playlists within the folder will be synced to your iPod.

  • Artists

    An improvement that came with iTunes 9 is the ability to sync individual artists' work to your iPod easily. You do this via the Artists list. Just enable the artists whose music you want to copy to your iPod, and so it shall be when you sync the iPod.

  • Genres

    Another hat-tip to iTunes 9 for the Genres list. If the holidays are beckoning, and you'd like to add a little musical cheer to the mix, enable the Holiday option in the Genres list, and your iPod will be as full of holiday music as it and your iTunes Library allow. Better yet, when the seemingly endless cheer ends, you can get that stuff off your iPod quickly by unchecking that genre and choosing a less festive one.

You'll see two additional options in this tab: Include Music Videos and Automatically Fill Free Space with Songs. Enable the first option, and any music videos in selected playlists will also be synced to your iPod. Turn the option off, and music videos will steer clear, even if they're part of a playlist. As for the second option, if you haven't chosen enough music, videos, podcasts, photos, contacts, calendars, and games to fill your iPod, enabling this option instructs iTunes to top off your iPod with music of its choosing.


The Movies tab has been rejiggered in iTunes 9 as well. As with the Music tab, you can sync all your movies simply by checking the Sync Movies box and leaving the option below it set to automatically include all movies.

You can add a layer of choice by choosing one of the options from the Automatically Include pop-up menu. These options include syncing the 1, 3, 5, or 10 movies most recently added to iTunes; the 1, 3, 5, or 10 most recent unwatched movies (stuff that you haven't seen and added not all that long ago); or the 1, 3, 5, or 10 least recently unwatched movies (unwatched movies that are starting to gather dust in your iTunes Library).

When you choose one of these options, you're not committed to syncing only those movies. Below, you'll see all the movies in iTunes' Movies playlist with check boxes next to their titles. To sync any of these movies as well, just check their boxes (Figure 4.17).

Figure 4.17

Figure 4.17 The Movies tab.

To be far more particular about the movies that are placed on your iPod, clear the Automatically Include check box. When you do, you see a list of all the movies in iTunes' Movies playlist, plus a list of all the playlists that include movies. Now you can pick just those movies you want, as well as pull movies from playlists you've created that may have a mix of movies and music (such as the Purchased playlist, which contains movies, TV shows, and music that you've bought from the iTunes Store).

Again, if you enable the Sync Movies option, you undo the Manually Manage Movies and Videos setting if you've switched it on.

TV Shows

The TV Shows tab (Figure 4.18) works similarly to the Movies tab. When Sync TV Shows is enabled along with Automatically Include All Episodes of All Shows, all your TV shows will be copied to your iPod when you sync it. But here again, you have the option to sync the 1, 3, 5, or 10 most recent, most recent unwatched, and least recent unwatched episodes of all the shows in your iTunes Library or selected shows.

Figure 4.18

Figure 4.18 The TV Shows tab.

As with the Movies tab, you can clear the Automatically Include check box, select individual shows and episodes within those shows, and sync just those shows and episodes to your iPod. Here, too, you'll find a list that lets you sync shows that are stored within specific playlists.


What puts the pod in podcast is the iPod. Because people tend to listen to lots of podcasts, some of which tend to be long (their files therefore taking up significant amounts of room), iTunes' Podcasts tab (Figure 4.19 on the next page) lets you manage which ones are synced to your iPod.

Figure 4.19

Figure 4.19 The Podcasts tab.

As in each one of these tabs, you have the option to not sync this content, but if you choose to, you have plenty of options. To get it all, just enable Sync Podcasts, and the option below it, by default, reads Automatically Include All Episodes of All Podcasts. If you have a lot of podcast episodes—as many of us do—be choosy by choosing the proper options. Click the All pop-up menu, and you'll see familiar options—1, 3, 5, or 10 recent, most recent unplayed, and least recent unplayed. Additionally, you'll find options for playing all unplayed; all new; the 1, 3, 5, or 10 most recent new; and the 1, 3, 5, or 10 least recent new. You can do this for all podcasts or just selected podcasts.

Or—and I know you've heard this before—clear the Automatically Include check box, and choose the podcasts and episodes you want to sync. And yes, you can include episodes from podcasts contained within playlists.

Note that video as well as audio podcasts are included here. Because video can consume a lot of storage space, be careful how you choose your video podcasts.

iTunes U

Not terribly long ago, Apple introduced iTunes U, which provides audio and video content from such providers as universities, American Public Media, the Library of Congress, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. And it's all free! Download some of this content, and you'll see that it can be synced very much like podcasts (Figure 4.20).

Figure 4.20

Figure 4.20 The iTunes U tab.

Photos (color iPods only)

The Mac and Windows versions of the Photos tab differ slightly. Like so.


If you use a Mac, an iPod with a color display can sync photos with Apple's iPhoto and Aperture, as well as with your Photos folder or a different folder of your choosing. On that Mac, you also have the option to sync all iPhoto albums, events, and faces. Or you can enable the Selected Albums, Events, and Faces, and Automatically Include option (Figure 4.21 on the next page ). Do this, and Albums, Events, and Faces lists appear. You can select specific items from these lists, such as all Faces photos that contain a picture of your boyfriend.

Figure 4.21

Figure 4.21 The Photos tab in the Mac version of iTunes.

With regard to events, iTunes offers the option to automatically include no events; all events; the most recent, 3, 5, 10, or 20 events; events from the past month; or events from the past 2, 3, 6, or 12 months. If you choose No Events, you can choose the specific events you want on your iPod from the Events list below. iTunes provides a Search field for making these events easier to find.

You also have the option to include videos that have been copied to your iPhoto library—videos you've shot with your 5G iPod nano, for example.

Aperture, a tool more often used by pros and advanced photo hobbyists, doesn't enjoy this level of support. Choose Aperture on a Mac version of iTunes, and you see but three options: All Photos and Albums, Selected Albums, and Include Full-Resolution Photos. Choose Selected Albums, and all your Aperture albums appear in a list below. As with iPhoto, you don't have the option to choose individual pictures from albums.

You can also select Choose Folder from the Sync Photos From pop-up menu. When you do, up pops a Change Photos Folder Location navigation window. Just traipse to the folder you want to pull pictures from, and click Open. When you do this, the folder you've chosen appears in the pop-up menu.

If you choose Pictures from this pop-up menu, the options below it change to All Photos and Albums and Selected Folders. The principles of iPhoto/Aperture import apply here as well. If you choose All Photos, iTunes rummages around in this folder and looks for compatible graphics files. If you choose Selected Folders, you can direct iTunes to look in only those folders that you select.

This tab also include an Include Full-Resolution Photos option when you've plugged in any color iPod. It says what it means. When you enable it, iTunes creates a Photos folder at the root level of the iPod, and it hurls into that folder full-resolution versions of your photos rather than the slimmed-down photos that iPhoto displays. This option is primarily for transporting your photos; the iPod can't display them.

To access them, enable disk use on the iPod, locate the iPod on your Mac's Desktop, open the Photos folder, and then open the Full Resolution folder within. This folder is organized in a logical way. When you open the Full Resolution folder, you'll see a folder that bears the year the pictures were created. Within this folder are folders marked with the month of creation. Within one of these folders is a folder denoting the day of conception. So the folder hierarchy might look like this: Photos/Full Resolution/2009/10/28/yourphotos.


On a Windows PC, you can sync with your My Pictures folder, a different folder of your choosing, or photo albums created with Adobe Photoshop Elements 3 or later or Adobe Photoshop Album 2 or later. To do this, enable the Sync Photos From option, and from the pop-up menu that follows it, choose the source for your photos.

If you've installed Photoshop Elements (version 3 or later) or Photoshop Album on your PC, the Sync Photos From pop-up menu also contains entries for these programs, allowing you to import pictures from the albums that these programs create.

The Windows version of iTunes also includes the option to include full-resolution versions of your photos.


iTunes handles synchronization of contacts and calendars between your computer and iPod. The Contacts tab offers synchronization options for your computer's main contacts and calendars applications (Figure 4.22). From the Contacts tab on a Macintosh, you can choose to synchronize all your Apple Address Book contacts or just those contacts from selected groups. On a Windows PC, iTunes synchronizes Windows' Address Book (called Windows Contacts in Vista and Windows 7) or Microsoft Outlook contacts in the same way—either all contacts or selected groups of contacts. Each version of iTunes gives you the option to include your contacts' photos.

Figure 4.22

Figure 4.22 The Contacts tab.

Below the Contacts section of the tab, you'll spy the Calendars section, which works similarly to Contacts. On a Mac, you can sync all your iCal calendars or just selected calendars. On a Windows PC, you have these same options for Microsoft Outlook calendars.

Games (5G iPod, 3G–5G iPod nanos, and iPod classics only)

The iTunes Store sells not only applications for the iPod touch and iPhone through the App Store, but also games made specifically for click-wheel iPods. Currently, the Store sells a small collection of games that are compatible with the 3G–4G iPod nanos, iPod classics, and 5G iPod. Buy one of these games, and you can play it on any (or all) of these iPod models.

The Games tab is where you choose which games to sync to your iPod. Your choices are all games or selected games (from a list of purchased games below).

Nike + iPod (5G iPod nano only)

If you've signed up for a Nike+ Active account and enabled the pedometer on your 5G iPod nano, when you attach your iPod, this tab appears. Within it, you see the number of workout history files waiting to be sent to Nike (if you haven't turned on the option to have the histories sent automatically). Below the Workout History area is the Nike+ area, which includes the Automatically Send Workout Data to Nike+ option; your Nike+ Login ID; and a Visit Nike+ button that, when clicked, launches your Web browser and takes you to the Nike+ Active Web site.

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