However, despite all of these different types of content, the core focus remains on music, and most iPod owners will be concerned first and foremost with getting their existing music collection onto their iPod. One of the common myths about the iPod is that you have to buy your music from the iTunes Store. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Both the iPod and iTunes will happily import content from commercial or self-created audio CDs, or any standard MP3 file that you may have available.
Purchasing content from the iTunes Store is far from the only option, and there are many iPod users with large music collections who have never purchased even a single track from the iTunes Store. Since most people who buy an iPod probably already own at least some music on compact disc CD , this is usually a good place to start. Further, if you have an Internet connection, iTunes can even look up track information for most commercial CDs and fill it for you automatically, ensuring that any tracks you import are properly labelled.
Neither iTunes nor the iPod natively support this format, although iTunes will helpfully offer to convert any unprotected WMA files that it finds.
If your DRM license permits, you can burn these to an audio CD using another compatible media application and then import that audio CD into iTunes as you would for any commercial audio CD. Lastly, the iTunes Store is certainly a convenient option for purchasing digital music, however be aware that most of the songs purchased from the iTunes Store are protected by digital rights management that will preclude them from being used on any device not made by Apple. This section provides information for users who have an existing collection of digital music files that they would like to add to their iTunes library.
New users who are starting out with no digital music files can skip ahead to the next section on importing CDs into iTunes. The first time you run iTunes, it will helpfully offer to scan your entire computer for any compatible audio files and import them into your iTunes library. You can let iTunes do this for you, or you can skip this step and add these files manually later.
Many games and other applications will have soundtracks and effects tracks stored in the MP3 format within their program folders, and iTunes may end up adding these to your library along with your normal music files. We therefore generally recommend that users skip this initial import process. However, for those users who already have a large collection of existing digital music files, it is important to first understand how iTunes handles this process, and where you may want to adjust some of these options.
While any of the default import options will usually get your music into iTunes with a minimum of initial effort, a little bit of pre-planning can ensure that your music library is more manageable in the long run, and can avoid surprises later on. When you add existing digital music files to the iTunes library, these files are copied from their present location into the iTunes Music Folder. This means that if you are importing a large music collection, you will need enough disk space to make a complete copy of it during this process. Once your music has been added to iTunes and copied into the iTunes Music Folder, you can delete the original files, however.
Rather, by default it simply leaves them where they are and references them from there. The Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library option determines whether iTunes copies added files into the music folder path or simply references them from their original locations. This option is enabled by default for Mac users, and disabled by default for Windows users.
The Keep iTunes Music folder organized option determines whether iTunes will attempt to reorganize files within the iTunes Music folder as the track information is modified within iTunes itself. This naming behavior is hard-coded and cannot be modified.
This only affects existing files already in the iTunes Music folder. Files copied in as they are added are always placed in the organized location. For Mac users, this option will be enabled by default, Windows users are given an opportunity to specify whether they want this option enabled or not as part of the initial iTunes Setup wizard:. As changes are made to track information within the iTunes library, iTunes automatically reorganizes the underlying music files appropriately.
Regardless of which operating system or method you use, however, the concept is the same—simply select a file, files, or a folder to add to your library, and iTunes does the rest. Note that if you are selecting a folder, all sub-folders are also included. Another method for adding music files to your iTunes library is simply to drag and drop either individual files, a group of files, or a folder right into the iTunes window. These files will be added to the iTunes library in the same way that the File menu options work.
However, just about everybody has a few CDs that they want to get into their iTunes library. Fortunately, this process is extremely simple in iTunes. When you insert a CD, iTunes detects it and simply asks you if you want to import it:. These settings can be further tweaked in your iTunes preferences to specify a different import format and how iTunes behaves when you insert an audio CD:. You can choose to do nothing more than simply show the CD contents, start playing the CD, or automatically import the CD.
In short, if you only intend to play your imported music through iTunes or on your iPod or other Apple device , then you can select the AAC format. For a more compatible library with other hardware and software, you will want to use the MP3 format. These formats are generally only of interest to higher-end users and audiophiles. More information and discussion on the various audio file formats can be found in our Digital Audio Formats forum in the iLounge Discussion Forums.
Another possible source of music for your iPod is commercial music sources such as the iTunes Store. The iTunes Store itself works within the iTunes software application, and any music purchased from the iTunes Store is automatically downloaded and added to your iTunes library. Note that many commercial digital music services use the Protected WMA format for their music, which is not compatible with iTunes or the iPod. There are a few emerging services, however, such as eMusic http: These files contain no copy protection or other restrictions, and can be played on any player which supports the MP3 file format.
Music purchased from other online sources will simply be downloaded to your hard drive, and must be added manually to iTunes in the same way as any other digital music file. You can also import your own books on CD into the iTunes library in much the same way as you would import any other CD.
For more information on audiobook support in iTunes and on the iPod, including instructions for how to convert your own audiobooks into iTunes, see our Complete Guide to iPod Audiobooks and our Books and Spoken Word forum in the iLounge Discussion Forums. Another good source of iPod content can be found in the iTunes Podcast directory.
Podcasts are small audio or video clips, usually of an episodic nature, that you subscribe to. These include such things as news broadcasts, talk radio shows, audio and video blogs and more. Apple provides a podcast directory via the iTunes Store, and although the store interface is used, the podcasts themselves are generally free downloads. Once you subscribe to a podcast, iTunes will automatically download new episodes of that podcast as they become available, and transfer these to your iPod if you have configured it to do so.
Once you have imported your music into your iTunes library, you may still want to organize it to make information easier to find. Music imported from CD or purchased from legitimate online digital music stores should already have this information correctly filled in. However, often users who have collected music files from a variety of different sources may find that the information contained within the files themselves is inaccurate or incomplete.
This information can be cleaned up in iTunes itself simply by selecting a file or group of files and choosing Get Info from the iTunes File menu. For more information on this, see our tutorial, Tagging Songs in iTunes. Current iPod models also offer the ability to add album artwork to your music files which will be displayed on the iPod. This feature requires an iTunes Store account, but is free to use. For more information on adding album artwork manually to tracks in iTunes, see our tutorial, Adding album art in iTunes. In addition to organizing the tag information within files themselves, it may also be desirable to create playlists within the iTunes application to organize your favorite songs, or select groupings of music to transfer to your iPod.
To create a playlist, simply choose File, New Playlist from within iTunes. You can then add content to the playlist by dragging and dropping it from your main iTunes library window. The advantage of playlists is that these not only provide an organization for your music within iTunes and the iPod, but they can also be used a method for automatically synchronizing only selected content from your iTunes library onto your iPod. This is especially useful when you have a library that is significantly larger than the capacity of your iPod.
Further, iTunes also offers a more advanced method of playlist—the Smart Playlist. For more information on creating and managing playlists and smart playlists, see our tutorials on Creating Playlists in iTunes and Creating Smart Playlists in iTunes.
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Again, this is an area where iTunes makes things incredibly simple if you already have an organized iTunes library. If your iPod is large enough to hold your entire iTunes library, this is really the only step. By default, iTunes simply tries to synchronize everything in your iTunes library onto your iPod. This works well for many users, and is by far the simplest solution.
In this mode, your iTunes music library and your iPod are essentially mirrored copies of each other, including all of your playlists from your iTunes library. Any new tracks you add to your iTunes library are added to your iPod, and any tracks you delete are removed from your iPod.
Further, information on ratings, last played times, and play counts are transferred from the iPod back to your iTunes library, as is the saved playback position in any audiobooks or podcasts you have listened to. On the other hand, if your music library is larger than the capacity of your iPod, iTunes will notify you of this and offer to automatically create a playlist of content to fit on your iPod:. Once this playlist has been created, however, you can adjust the content as you would any other playlist. When you next connect your iPod, any content you have removed from this playlist will be removed from your iPod, and any new content you have added to this playlist will be added to your iPod.
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What this automated process actually does, however, is set your iPod up to synchronize only selected playlists —specifically only the single playlist that it has automatically created for you. Fortunately, you can adjust these synchronization settings yourself, and choose additional playlists to synchronize. This is done by connecting the iPod, and selecting it in the iTunes source pane on the left-hand side. ONLY the content in those playlists and the playlist entries themselves will be transferred to the iPod.
Again, since this is synchronization , changing this setting will also remove any content that is no longer selected. With automatic synchronization, it is important to understand that you never actually manage the content directly on the iPod itself. If you want to remove a track from the iPod, you simply remove it from your iTunes library, or remove it from the playlist that is syncing with your iPod if you are syncing selected playlists only , and iTunes then removes it from the iPod during the next synchronization.
With automatic sync, there should never be content on your iPod itself that is not also located in your iTunes library, and in fact any content removed from your iTunes library will also be removed from the iPod, as it will continue to be a mirror image of either your entire library or those playlists which you have selected for synchronization.
There are two significant considerations with automatic synchronization that might be a limitation for some iPod users. Firstly, since automatic synchronization mirrors the content of your iTunes library onto your iPod, it stands to reason that you must actually have an iTunes library on your computer and maintain this library.
This may not be practical for users with limited disk space. Secondly, automatic synchronization only works with one iTunes library. In fact, if you connect an iPod set to automatically synchronize with a given iTunes library to another computer running iTunes, it will notify you that your iPod is already associated with another library, and prompt you to erase your iPod if you want to sync it with the new library:. In this mode, your iPod essentially becomes its own distinct portable library. There is no longer any association between your iTunes library and your iPod, and you manage content on the iPod itself directly.
Once in manual mode, you add content to the iPod simply by dragging it from the iTunes library directly onto your iPod icon in the iTunes source pane, in much the same way that you would add content to a playlist. Further, you can view and manage the content on the iPod directly by clicking on the small triangle that appears to the left of the iPod icon in the source pane.
This will expand the folders on the iPod itself to show the categories of content and playlists stored on the iPod. You can then create new playlists, modify the properties of any given track or even delete it from the iPod completely in much the same way as you would in the iTunes library. The manual mode setting itself travels with the iPod.
Once manual mode is enabled, it will remain enabled on any other iTunes library that you connect your iPod to. This will allow you to easily manage your iPod content and add new content from more than one computer.
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