January 26, 2010
Loving the album artwork it came wrapped in has long lived in our hearts right alongside loving the music itself, a connection iTunes means to honor and foster. When you buy music from the iTunes store, the album artwork is downloaded along with the music. In addition you can use the Get Album Artwork command in the Advanced menu to download the artwork for the albums you've imported from your CD collection if those albums are also available in the store.
And finally, if you select Preferences (available via the iTunes menu on the Mac version of iTunes and the Edit menu on the Windows version) and then select Store within the Preferences panel, you'll find a checkbox you can use to make artwork downloading when you import automatic.
An importing tip, by the way. The General section of the iTunes Preferences Panel contains a "When you insert a CD" pop up menu you can use to change what you want to have happen. If you're importing a stack of CDs, you may find the "Import CD and Eject" option a real convenience.
January 21, 2010
Whether you have a section in your media library selected or the iTunes Store, the simple search box at the upper right in the iTunes window will get you to most of what you're looking for quickly if you just dive in and start typing.
When you use it in the iTunes Store, pressing Return produces a page with matching results separated into sections for each of the stores they appear in. If you want to limit the search to a particular media type, you can use the Filter By Media Type choices in the upper left, and as you use them the links below will change as well. If the results include a list -- like a song list for instance -- hovering over a name that's been truncated with an ellipsis (...) reveals the full title if you wait. (This trick is especially useful for revealing the contents of TV episodes in series episode listings. Once the first has appeared, the rest will show up immediately as you move your pointer down the list.
You can also approach your Store search questions by using Power Search, available via the third link in Quick Links in the upper right on the iTunes Store Home page, or in the upper left of of any store search results page. Power Search lets you select among the stores -- Music, Movies, etc. -- with the popup list on the left, offering in turn different search fields and qualifiers to fit your choice -- choosing Applications for instance lets you specify whether you're looking for applications that work specifically with iPhone or iPod touch, and choosing Podcasts lets you specify the category you'd like to search within.
January 19, 2010
You can think of podcasting as a kind of broadcasting where the listening/watching schedule, both when and where, is entirely up to you. It fits a mobile world where "timely" means when I have time and where is wherever I am. Legions of organizations and individuals are taking advantage of podcasting's capabilities to communicate with their audiences. Check out the Featured Providers link list on the lower right of the main iTunes Podcasts page for just a sense of some of them and what they offer. Some are using podcasts to deliver their most popular radio content already time shifted, as it were. Some deliver audio and video ancillary to their print or web publications, still others deliver content in packages that didn't even exist till podcasting itself existed.
Select a podcast that interests you and you'll see you can download episodes already available and/or subscribe to automatically receive new episodes as they appear. Regardless of whether you just download an episode or subscribe, the podcast will appear in your iTunes library complete with a listing of episodes you haven't downloaded and susbscribe/unsubscibe buttons as appropriate. Select a podcast (List view is most helpful) and you can use the Settings... button at the bottom of the page to determine how often to check for episodes, which old episodes to download, and which to keep available for how long.
January 14, 2010
If you're not involved with school you may not have noticed what the iTunes U section of iTunes tells you about what's happening out there in the world of education. Never before has deliberately educational content flowed so freely to the interested. Click the Universities & Colleges link in the iTunes U Quick Links section (upper right) for a clickable list of colleges and universities already actively using iTunes U.
The Beyond Campus link (in Quick Links) supplies a similar list of other institutions delivering educational content via iTunes U, likewise the K-12 link, and iTunes U Power Search lets you look across everything being offered by what's covered and who's offering it.
(A heads up if you're already an iTunes U user: iTunes 9 adds an iTunes U category to your Library Source list and puts all new iTunes U downloads there.)
January 12, 2010
In iTunes making a basic playlist is dirt simple: click the Plus in the lower left to create a new one, name it, and drag in songs from your library to populate it. But what if you want a playlist that can automatically keep up with your buying and playing habits? You can do that and more with Smart Playlists. We'll start with a simple example and cover more complex ones in later posts.
To make a playlist that automatically contains all the tracks by your favorite artists, just choose New Smart Playlists in the File... menu, type in one of those artists' names, and click the Plus. Add another artist name and stop for a second to look things over. The Match checkbox at the top of the Smart Playlist form determines whether you want the playlist to include "all" the rules you enter, or "any." Unless you want the list to contain only albums both artists played on together, change it to "any."
Keep using the Plus to add rules till you've listed all the artists you want to include. If you're an avid collector and the resulting list is larger than you want on your iPhone or iPod, check the box next to Limit to, etc. and explore all the options available for limiting the playlist size and the selection criteria. And don't leave without taking a look at all the rule options you can choose in addition to Artist. (These waters run deep and intersect with the way information about your music gets entered when you purchase or rip it, and the way it can be added to and edited by you after the fact. More posts to come.)
January 8, 2010
Thanks to all the iTunes users who've turned on Genius, iTunes is able to continually build and refine a sophisticated map of musical affinities which it can then use to help you notice other music you might like, and to automatically create playlists of songs in your library that go well together. To turn Genius on, select it in the lefthand column in the iTunes window and follow the prompts. When you're done you'll find two new buttons at the bottom right, one that hides and shows a Genius Sidebar with recommendations, and one you use to create Genius playlists.
You create Genius playlists by selecting a song in your library as the starting point and clicking the Genius button. A list of 25 songs will appear in the iTunes window, accompanied by three buttons on the right side of the Based On: bar at the top of the list. One lets you up the song total to 50, 75 or 100, another (Refresh) fetches a new mix of possibilities, and Save Playlist saves the contents to your Genius section under the name of the song you used to create it. You can save as many Genius playlists in that section as you like. (Note: if the song you picked as the starter is one Genius doesn't have enough affinity information for, it will ask you to pick another.)
Genius Mixes take the automation one step further, using the Genius map to create up to 12 different mixes from the artists and genres it finds in your library. If you select Genius Mixes (in the Genius section in the left column) and then point at each "album cover" in turn, you'll see the mix's name and some of the artists it includes at the bottom of the window -- "Alt. Singer/Songwriter Mix, Based on Leonard Cohen, Imogen Heap, Tom Waits, & others," for instance. The overall result feels like your own personal different radio stations you know will continually surprise you with music you like.
January 5, 2010
Finally it's easy to share iTunes libraries among family members -- as easy in fact as going to the Advanced menu in iTunes 9 and choosing Turn on Home Sharing. Just do that on each one of the up to five computers you can enable on your home Wi-Fi or Ethernet network, and use the same iTunes account name for all of them. Once you've done that, all the libraries will show up in the Share area in the iTunes left-hand column for all the connected computers with Home Sharing turned on. You can take advantage of the network to stream tracks from any of the libraries if you just want to listen, and you can drag over anything you'd like to have in your own library for the next time you sync your iPod or iPhone. (By the way, if you'd like to automatically copy new purchases whenever they're made for particular libraries, select the library and use the Settings... button at the lower right of the iTunes window to check what you'd like copied.)