May 31, 2011
In addition to regular playlists you make with drag and drop, and smart playlists you make with rules, iTunes can create playlists for you -- using the songs in your library -- with its Genius feature. Think of Genius as a giant, perpetual music party in the iTunes Store where the songs are the guests and they mingle with each other based on who they hang out with in their own libraries. When you send your music to the party by turning on Genius, your own library gains an ever deeper, sharper, more subtle map of what songs are likely to go well together, which is then reflected in the playlists Genius creates for you.
To create a new Genius playlist, select a song in your library and click the Genius icon on the lower right of the iTunes window. You can use the controls across the top on the right to change the number of songs, ask Genius to take another stab at it, and save playlists you want to keep. Your Genius playlists, new and saved, will appear in the Genius section in the left-hand column of the iTunes window. A tip: one of the reasons Genius is good at generating playlists is it takes its time figuring out all the places new songs are destined to hang out at the party. If it hasn't seen a song enough yet, it'll let you know that Genius is not available for that track. The longer songs have been around and the more often they've been bought and played, the better Genius gets at knowing where they might fit in your playlists.
May 23, 2011
When you start iTunes on a computer connected to a local area network, it automatically looks to see if there are other iTunes users on the network who are sharing streaming access to their libraries. If so, you'll find what they're sharing in the Shared area just below the Store area in the left-hand iTunes column. To share streaming access to your own library, use Preferences in the File menu, select the Sharing tab, and then check and select what you wish to share and whether or not you want to require a password for access.
Home Sharing adds the ability to copy contents among up to five computers on your home network, as well as to stream contents among them and to your iOS devices running iOS 4.3 or higher via AirPlay. It gives the household members maximum flexibility in how they manage what they want on their computers when they sync their devices. Use the Advanced menu on the computer to turn Home Sharing on and off, using the same Apple ID for all five computers, and use that ID as well in the iPod app settings to turn on Home Sharing on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. (By the way, if you have a second-generation Apple TV you can also share photos with Home Sharing via the Choose Photos to Share command in the Advanced menu.)
May 16, 2011
Creating playlists in your iTunes library is simple and straightforward: click the Plus sign on the lower left of the window, select the new empty untitled playlist that will appear in the Playlists section above and enter a name for it, then drag in items from your library as you wish. Smart Playlists start from a different place --the File menu--and add another dimension to what's possible. They populate themselves based on rules you pick: everything by this artist, all my reggae, these playlists, and so on, so they update automatically as you add to your library. You can include multiple rules in a Smart Playlist and automatically limit its size to fit the space you want to give it on a device, for instance. And you can choose how content gets picked when you sync. "Least recently played" to put fresh songs in the mix, "most recently added" to capture what's newly yours, and so on. One tip: if you're using multiple rules in a single playlist, pick "any" in the popup choice for Match at the top of the list of rules unless you only want songs that match every rule in your list.
May 9, 2011
When you find a review you agree with in the iTunes Store, it's easy to discover more content you might like through other reviews by the same person. When looking at a review in the Movies, TV Shows, App Store, Podcasts, Audiobooks, and iTunes U sections, just click the reviewer's name on the left to go to a page listing all their reviews. In Music, click All Reviews By This Reviewer to the right of the review. (Clicking the reviewer's name takes you directly to their Ping profile.) When you post your own reviews, your full name will automatically be used if you've opted into Ping. Otherwise you'll be asked to create a nickname the first time you post, which will then be used for all your reviews so others can follow your opinions as well.
May 2, 2011
Think of the Quick Links area in the iTunes Store like the directory in a large -- really large -- mall. It appears on the upper right of the main store page and the main page of every media section and genre when you access iTunes on your computer. (To find Quick Links on the iTunes Store on iPad, scroll to the bottom of your screen on the main page of every media section.) Quick Links give you direct shortcuts to particular actions, limited-time offers, new content, and more. On the main Store page, you can redeem gift certificates or gift cards via the Redeem link, among other choices. Go to the Music section and you'll see Free On iTunes, which takes you to free music offers, and Complete My Album, which will link you to all the albums that are available to you at a discounted price. In the Movies section, the Quick Links include 99¢ Movie Rentals and All HD Movies, while on the TV page, you'll see TV Rentals and Free TV Episodes. Quick Links on the App Store include Apps Starter Kit and Games Starter Kit, to name just a few. Quick Links can also lead you to interesting places you haven't browsed before. The Beyond Campus link on the iTunes U section, for instance, gives you a list of institutions who aren't colleges and universities but who are nonetheless publishing educational material.