March 28, 2011
When you turn on iTunes Home Sharing for the computers on your home Wi-Fi network (by choosing Home Sharing from the Advanced Menu), you make sharing media across their libraries as easy as drag and drop, and streaming media between computers as simple as pick and play. iTunes 10.2 and iOS 4.3 extend the streaming playback ability to your mobile devices as well. To enable Home Sharing on them use the Settings app, select iPod, and enter the same Apple ID and password you used to enable Home Sharing on your computers.
On the iPad use the Shared button in the Video app to pick the library you want to stream from and then the Rentals, Movies, TV shows, etc. buttons to find your way to the content you want to watch. For music playback via the iPad, use the iPod app and the Library button in the upper left to choose among libraries. On the iPhone and iPod touch, use the iPod app to control all media playback. The More button on the bottom right has a Shared button at the bottom of its list which you can use to pick among libraries. Then use the regular buttons across the bottom -- Playlists, Artists, Songs, and Videos -- to pick the content you want to stream.
Added note: if you like smart playlists that use playcount to make selections and want all the plays to count no matter who plays them on whichever device on the home sharing network, check the "Home Sharing computers and devices update play counts" box under the Sharing tab in iTunes Preferences.
March 21, 2011
Smart playlists populate themselves automatically based on rules -- "Artist is Bob Dylan" gets every song in your library that lists Dylan as the artist, "Genre is Classical" gets everything that has genre setting on classical, and so on. You can create your own smart playlists by selecting New Smart Playlist from the File menu, and iTunes also creates some for you automatically to help you manage your library as you add to it. When you purchase media from the iTunes Store, it's automatically added to a Purchased smart playlist in the Store area in the left hand column of the iTunes window. If you made the purchase from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, it will also appear in a smart playlist for that device. When you sync your devices with your computer, whatever you've purchased on them is automatically added to your library, of course, but those smart playlists can continue to help you remember what you've been up to.
Music you've imported into your library from your CD collection in the last two weeks will appear in the Recently Added list in the Playlists section containing all the playlists and smart playlists you create for yourself (also in the left-hand column in the iTunes window). Checking that playlist in the Sync Music tab for when you sync your devices is a convenient way to make sure you've got whatever you just added without having to think about it when you leave the house. (To change the time period, select the playlist and use Edit Smart Playlist in the File menu). As is true for all playlists, smart and otherwise, you can delete items at any time without impacting the actual contents of your library.
March 14, 2011
The iTunes Store would take up an almost unimaginably large physical space if it had to rely on aisles, shelves, and bins. And even on the computer screen the variety of what lies within presents some browsing challenges. Music, movies, and TV, for instance, come in a variety of genres, apps in a variety of categories, and so on. To dive directly into those subsections from anywhere in the Store, hover over the section names in the navigation bar at the top, click the down triangle that will appear, and choose your destination. That navigation bar will stay up there wherever you go. Additionally, within the various section pages, if you hover over albums, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and audiobooks, a small "i" or play button will appear in the lower right of the image. Click the "i" and a panel will flip up displaying the contents plus the sampling and purchasing actions you can take. The play button produces a similar panel that begins playing a sample video.
March 7, 2011
A growing number of movies for sale in the iTunes Store are marked with an iTunes Extras badge in the upper right-hand corner of their pages. This means that if you purchase (rather than rent) the movie, your download will include rich -- and sometimes exclusive -- bonus content such as behind-the-scenes footage, featurettes, production photos, deleted scenes, and more. To learn more about what's included in the Extras, look under the Includes iTunes Extras header in the left-hand column, underneath the movie poster, for details and screen shots. To browse all of the movies that currently feature iTunes Extras, go to the iTunes Extras link in the Collections section in the right-hand column of the main Movies page.