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Configuring the 3G iPod shuffle

As I mention earlier in the chapter, the iPod shuffle interacts differently with iTunes compared with a display-bearing iPod. To begin with, because the shuffle lacks a screen, it doesn't need to offer options for synchronizing photos, videos, contacts, and calendars. The lack of a screen also means that navigating the device is more challenging than working your way through a display-bearing iPod. You are, in a very real sense, flying blind.

Also consider the shuffle's limited storage space. Because the 3G iPod shuffle hold just 2 GB or 4 GB, you don't have a lot of extra room for storing large music files. iTunes can be configured to keep such files from being placed on your music player automatically.

With these limitations in mind, take a look at just what iTunes offers for the shuffle owner.

When you attach an iPod shuffle to your Mac or PC, by default, iTunes launches. When it does, the shuffle appears in the iTunes Source list under the Devices heading, just like any other iPod (save for the fact that its icon looks like a shuffle rather than a full-size iPod). Select that shuffle, and iTunes' main window shows four tabs: Summary, Music, Podcasts, and iTunes U.

Summary

This tab looks similar to the Summary tab for other iPods (Figure 4.23). Because it does, and because it offers similar options, I won't dwell on those options.

Figure 4.23

Figure 4.23 The Summary tab for a 3G iPod shuffle.

As do other Summary tabs, this one displays the name, capacity, software version, and serial number of the currently connected iPod shuffle. In the Version area below, you see the Check for Update and Restore buttons. As their names imply, the first, when clicked, checks for software updates for your iPod, and the second restores the iPod to its factory settings—meaning a brand-new copy of the latest software and all media wiped off the iPod.

In the Options area, you see several options that I've already discussed: Open iTunes When This iPod Is Attached, Sync Only Checked Songs, Enable Sound Check, Manually Manage Music, and Enable Disk Use.

There's also an option titled Convert Higher Bit Rate Songs to 128 Kbps AAC. As I've said, these iPods don't have a lot of storage capacity. If you want to get a lot of music on this iPod, it's a good idea to ensure that the files you load on it are on the slim side. Enabling this option will help because (as you recall from the "Import Business: File Formats and Bit Rates" sidebar earlier in this chapter) the lower the bit rate, the smaller the file. Converting those 256 Kbps tracks to 128 Kbps cuts their size in half. If you have particularly keen hearing, you'll be able to tell the difference if you use very good headphones (I don't include those included with the iPod among them). But quite honestly, most people—particularly those using Apple's headphones—can't tell the difference.

Below these options are the Voice Feedback option and the Enable VoiceOver check box, which work just the way they do with the 5G iPod nano.

At the bottom of this tab are the Limit Maximum Volume option and slider. On display-bearing iPods, you can limit the iPod's maximum volume directly on the iPod. Not so with the iPod shuffle. If you want to reduce its maximum volume (as you may want to do before handing the iPod over to a child who might be tempted to destroy his hearing), enable this option, and the volume indicator moves to the center of the slider. Click the Lock icon at the bottom of the tab, and you'll be prompted for a password (and confirmation of that password). This option locks the iPod so that its volume can't be adjusted past this limit without the password.

Music

You've been here before. Enable the Sync Music option, and you're offered the choice to sync your entire music library or selected playlists, artists, and genres (with lists of those playlists, artists, and genres appearing below). The Automatically Fill Free Space with Songs option lives here too.

Podcasts

This tab is exactly the same as the Podcasts tab that appears when any other iPod is jacked into your computer—which can be a little deceiving with the iPod shuffle. The reason is that video podcasts also appear in this tab, and you can select them. Try as you might, however, you can't sync these podcasts to the iPod shuffle, for the obvious reason that the shuffle provides no screen on which to watch those podcasts.

iTunes U

This option also looks exactly the same as the iTunes U tab that appears for other iPods, and the same caveat applies: Any iTunes U video content that you have can't be synced to an iPod shuffle.

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