This chapter takes you to the outer limits of what is possible with iTunes. You discover how to play streaming radio stations, assign equalizer presets to songs and use those presets on your iPad, iPod, or iPhone, and even modify content in the library, including splitting a song track into multiple tracks (a useful technique if you’ve ripped an entire side of an album and want to divide the music into separate songs).
You also find out how to manage multiple iTunes libraries on the same computer. You might want to do this if you share your computer with someone else, or your main library is too large to fit on an iPad, iPod, or iPhone and you don’t want to resort to manually managing music and videos — you can synchronize the iPad, iPod, or iPhone with a subset of the main library, managed as a separate library. In fact, you can create one or more sublibraries of your main library on the same hard drive, sharing the same content folders and files so that you don’t waste space. You can then automatically synchronize different iPads, iPods, and iPhones with each sublibrary. All this and more is covered in this chapter for advanced iTunes users.
Radio stations from nearly every part of the world are broadcasting on the Internet. You can tune in to JapanStation for the top 40 hits in Japan, Batanga Salsa for the best salsa from the Caribbean, or Radio Digitalia for La piu’ bella Musica Italiana. You can also check out the local news and sports from your hometown, no matter where you are. In other words, you can listen to talk radio and music shows from all over the country and the world.
By radio, I really mean a streaming broadcast. A streaming broadcast sends audio to your computer in a protected stream of bits over the Internet. Your computer starts playing the stream as soon as the first set of bits arrives, and more sections are transferred while you listen so that you hear it as a continual stream. To play radio stations in iTunes, follow these steps:
- Select the Radio option in the Library section of the source pane. The iTunes window displays a list of categories of radio stations.
- Click the triangle next to a category name to open the list of radio streams in that category. Some large radio stations offer more than one stream. iTunes automatically connects to the Internet to retrieve the latest list of radio stations for each category.
- Select a stream and then click the play button. To select a stream, click its name in the list pane. Within seconds, you hear live radio off the Web.
If you have a slow connection to the Internet, you might want to choose a stream with a bit rate of less than 56 Kbps for best results. The Bit Rate column shows the bit rate for each stream.
Using Equalizer Presets
The iTunes equalizer allows you to fine-tune sound spectrum frequencies in a precise way. To open the iTunes equalizer window, choose Window>Equalizer. You can use iTunes presets to fine-tune the sound and even save your own presets. To choose an equalizer preset, click the Equalizer’s pop-up menu, which by default is set to Manual:
You don’t have to settle for the built-in equalizer presets — create your own! Follow these steps to save your own presets to the iTunes equalizer:
- Make the frequency changes that you want by dragging the individual sliders up and down. The Equalizer window’s pop-up menu automatically switches to Manual if it is not already set to it.
- Choose Make Preset from the Equalizer window pop-up menu. The Make Preset dialog appears.
- Enter a descriptive name for your preset in the New Preset Name text box and then click the OK button. The name appears in the pop-up menu from that point on — your very own preset.
You can rename or delete any preset, including those supplied with iTunes (which is useful if you want to recall a preset by another name). Choose the Edit List option from the pop-up menu. The Edit Presets dialog opens. Click Rename to rename a preset, click Delete to delete a preset, and then click Done when you finish editing the list.
One reason why you go to the trouble of setting equalizer presets is to assign them to your iTunes content. The next time you play the item, iTunes uses the equalizer preset that you assigned.
When you transfer content to your iPad, iPod, or iPhone, the standard iTunes presets transfer with it; you can choose whether to use these assignments when playing the content on your iPod or iPhone.
Assign an equalizer preset to a content item or set of items by following these steps:
- Select the item. It’s easy to select songs under the Songs tab.
- Choose File>Get Info and then click the Options tab. The options page for the item appears.
- Choose a preset from the Equalizer Preset pop-up menu. The standard presets appear in this menu.
- Click OK when finished.
After assigning a standard preset to a content item in iTunes, enable the equalizer in your iPad, iPod, or iPhone by choosing any equalizer setting (other than Off) so that the device uses the item’s equalizer preset for playback.
To select an equalizer preset on an iPod classic, choose Settings>Playback>EQ from the main menu to display a list of presets (choose Settings>EQ on older models). On an iPod nano, tap Settings on the second Home screen, tap Music, and then tap EQ. You can scroll the list of presets and press the select button to select one. The equalizer is set to Off until you select one of the presets.
To select an equalizer preset on an iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone, choose Settings>Music from the Home screen. Then choose EQ to display a list of presets. You can scroll the list of presets and touch a preset to select it. The equalizer is set to Off until you select one of the presets.
No matter what equalizer preset you choose on your iPad, iPod, or iPhone, any item that has an assigned preset uses the assigned preset. That’s right — the assigned equalizer preset from iTunes takes precedence over the preset in the iPad, iPod, or iPhone.
Tip: If you want items that have assigned presets to play with those presets while the rest of the content plays without any equalizer adjustment, choose the Flat EQ preset in your iPad, iPod, or iPhone.
If you know in advance that you need to use specific presets for certain songs, assign standard presets to the songs in iTunes before copying the songs to the iPad, iPod, or iPhone (but not custom presets, which don’t transfer to the iPad, iPod, or iPhone). If, on the other hand, you don’t want the songs fixed to a certain preset, don’t assign presets to the songs in iTunes. You can then experiment with the presets in the iPad, iPod, or iPhone to get better playback in different listening environments.
You can temporarily play a content item with an assigned preset via one of the other equalizer settings in the iPad, iPod, or iPhone. Start playing the item on your iPad, iPod, or iPhone, and while the item is playing, return to the main menu or Home screen. Choose an EQ preset from the Settings menu, as described previously. The content plays to the end with the new equalizer preset. The next time that item is played, it uses the assigned preset as usual.
Modifying Content in iTunes
Although iTunes was never meant to be a media-editing application, it does offer a simple control over the starting and stopping points for playing back media. You can use this feature to cut unwanted intros and outros of a song, such as announcers and audience applause, or to skip opening credits or commercials of movies. You can also use it in conjunction with File>Create New Version>Create format Version (where format is the encoding format, such as AAC or MP3) to split an item — or, in the parlance of record label executives and artists, split a track.
iTunes can play only a portion of a song, video, audio book, or podcast episode — that is, if you specify start and stop times for the item. To set the start and/or stop points, select the item, choose File->Get Info and then click the Options tab. Click inside the Start Time field to set the start time. Then click inside the Stop Time field to set the stop time. The start and stop times are in minutes, seconds, and hundredths of a second: for example, 5:52.105 is 5 minutes and 52.105 seconds.
To determine with accuracy the time for the start and stop points, play the file and look in the status pane at the upper-center part of the iTunes window for the elapsed time on the left side of the scrubber bar. You can drag the scrubber bar in the status pane to move quickly and find the exact times for the start and stop points you want to set.
iTunes plays only the part of the content between the start and stop times. You can use this feature to your advantage because when you convert a song to another format — such as AIFF to MP3 by selecting the AIFF version and choosing File>Create New Version>Create MP3 Version — iTunes converts only the part of the song between the start and stop times.
You might have a CD that was created with all the songs combined into one track, or you might have recorded an entire side of a record or cassette tape onto one sound file. Either way, you probably want to separate the songs into tracks in iTunes. You can separate a track into smaller tracks as long as you use the AIFF or WAV format for your track at first. Follow these steps:
- Before ripping a CD or importing a sound file, set the encoding format in your importing preferences to AIFF or WAV. See Bonus Chapter 2 to find out how to import music in the AIFF or WAV formats.
- Rip the CD track into iTunes or import an AIFF or WAV sound file into iTunes. Because you set the importing preferences to AIFF or WAV, the CD track is imported into iTunes at full quality (uncompressed). You want to perform this step because you’re going to convert it in iTunes, and you need the uncompressed version to convert. Use a song name to identify this track as a long track with multiple tracks — for example, call it something like side one.
- Change your import encoding format to AAC or MP3. See Bonus Chapter 2 for more about changing your import settings and converting songs.
- Select the song under the Songs tab in iTunes and then choose File>Get Info. The song information dialog appears.
- Click the Options tab to show the Start Time and Stop Time fields. You can set the start and stop times for the song.
- Define the Start Time and Stop Time for the first song in the long track and then click the OK button to close the dialog. Play the song and look in the status pane at the upper-center part of the iTunes window for the elapsed time on the right of the scrubber bar. You can drag the scrubber bar in the status pane to move quickly through the song and find the exact times for the start and stop points you want to set. For example, if the first song is exactly 3 minutes and 12 seconds, define the first section to start at 0:00 and stop at 3:12.
- Convert the defined segment of the long track to AAC or MP3. For example, select the long track (side one) and then choose File>Create New Version>Create AAC Version (or File>Create New Version>Create MP3 Version if you chose the MP3 format in Step 3). iTunes converts only the section of the song defined by the Start Time and Stop Time fields that you set in Step 6, and it creates a new song track in the AAC or MP3 format (depending on your choice in Step 3). iTunes converts the uncompressed AIFF segment into the compressed AAC or MP3 format.
- Change the song name of the newly converted track to the actual song name. The converted section of the long track still has the same name (side one). Change its name by clicking inside the song name in the iTunes song list or by choosing File>Get Info, clicking the Info tab, clicking in the Name field, and entering the new name. You can also enter a track number in the Track field.
- Repeat Steps 4-8 for each song segment. Repeat these steps, selecting the long track (side one) each time and setting a new start and stop time for each new song, converting the song to MP3 or AAC, and then changing each newly converted song’s name.
- When you finish, delete the long track in AIFF or WAV format. Delete the long track (side one) by selecting it and pressing Delete/Backspace. You don’t need it anymore if you converted all the segments to separate songs.
Manipulating an iTunes Library
If you’re like me, your iTunes library is huge. I’ve nearly filled the internal hard drives of two computers. What do you do if you want to expand your library but you run out of space? How do you move your library to a higher-capacity hard drive? What if you have media files all over your hard drive and you need to consolidate them all in one place so that you can reclaim drive space? You can do all that and more.
Changing the location of the library: You can store your iTunes library in a different location on your hard drive or on another hard drive — as long as you tell iTunes where to find it. To change where iTunes stores your content library, follow these steps:
- Choose iTunes>Preferences (Mac) or Edit>Preferences (Windows).
- Click the Advanced tab. The Advanced page of preferences appears.
- Click the Change button.
You can then browse to select another location on any connected hard drive.
After selecting a new location, the content you bring into iTunes (by ripping CDs, downloading items from the iTunes Store, or dragging media files) is stored in the new location. However, previously imported media files stay where they are. To move the previously imported files to the new library location, drag the media files into the iTunes window so that iTunes stores them automatically in the new location and updates its library file properly. You can then delete the media files you copied from the old library location.
To restore the storage location back to its original location — the iTunes folder inside the Music folder on a Mac or the My Music folder in Windows, click the Reset button under the Advanced tab of the Preferences window.
Changing how files are stored in the library: The default method of organizing files in the iTunes library is to store content files in album and artist folders, naming the files according to the disc number, track number, and title.
For example, the song “Here, There and Everywhere” has the track number and song title in the filename (05 Here, There And Everywhere.mp3). The filename extension even tells you the type of encoding format — in this case, MP3. This song is saved in the Revolver folder (for the album), which is in The Beatles folder (for the artist) in the iTunes Media folder (or the iTunes Music folder if you upgraded from a previous version of iTunes).
Movies, music videos, and TV shows follow similar naming conventions. Here’s an example from the TV show Monk. Episode 8 (season 5) is titled “Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert.” This information makes up the filename (08 Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert.m4v), which is stored in the Monk folder (the artist) inside the TV Shows folder in the iTunes Media folder (or the iTunes Music folder if you upgraded from a previous version of iTunes).
What about songs performed by multiple artists, such as movie soundtrack albums and compilations with multiple artists? Compilation and soundtrack albums, and songs designated as part of a compilation, are stored in album folders within the Compilations folder, rather than within individual artist folders.
The filename and location within artist and album folders change when you change the information for a song (or video, audio book, or podcast episode) in the information fields. For example, if you change the song title, the filename also changes. If you change the artist name, the folder name for the artist might change or the file might move to a new folder by that name. iTunes organizes the files based on the song information.
Tip: You may want to change song information without changing the names of the folders and files. To make changes to song information without changing the file and folder names on your hard drive, choose iTunes>Preferences (Mac) or Edit>Preferences (Windows) and then click Advanced. Then deselect the Keep iTunes Media Folder Organized option.
Maybe you don’t want to store copies of your media files in the library — especially if you already have copies stored on your hard drive in another location and need to conserve space. If you want to add content to your iTunes library without copying the files into the iTunes Media folder, here’s what you do:
- Choose iTunes>Preferences (Mac) or Edit>Preferences (Windows).
- Click the Advanced tab.
- Deselect the Copy Files to iTunes Media Folder When Adding to Library option.
The next time you drag a media file into the iTunes window, it stores only a reference to the file in your iTunes library that specifies its actual location. The file isn’t copied or moved. Of course, if you move the file, iTunes may not find it and may display an exclamation point next to its name in the song list.
Consolidating the library media files: If you have media files that are stored on different hard drives that are connected to the same computer, you can have iTunes consolidate your library by copying everything into the iTunes Media folder (or the iTunes Music folder if you upgraded from a previous version of iTunes). By first consolidating your library, you make sure that any backup operation you perform is complete.
To consolidate your iTunes library, choose File>Library>Organize Library, and then select Consolidate Files. The original media files remain where they are, but copies are made in your iTunes Media folder. (To save space you may want to delete the original media files after these copies are made.)
Tip: You can also upgrade your library to the new iTunes Media organization, with subfolders for Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, and so on. Choose File>Library>Organize Library, and then select the Upgrade to iTunes Media Organization option.
Moving your library to another hard drive: To move your entire library to another hard drive (presumably a higher-capacity drive), you can change the location of the library and consolidate the library at the same time. Follow these steps:
- Create a folder — name it “iTunes” — on the other hard drive. “iTunes” is a good name, but you could call it anything, and iTunes can still find it after you change the location of the library.
- Choose iTunes>Preferences (Mac) or Edit>Preferences (Windows).
- Click the Advanced tab, and then click the Change button.
- Browse to select the new “iTunes” folder on the other hard drive.
- Select the Copy Files to iTunes Media Folder When Adding to Library checkbox. This option might already be enabled. Just double-check it to make sure that it’s selected.
- Select the Keep iTunes Media Folder Organized check box. This option might already be enabled. Just double-check it to make sure that it’s selected.
- Click OK.
- Choose File>Library>Organize Library, and then select Consolidate Library.
iTunes automatically copies all the media files, along with playlists, into the new iTunes Media folder. You can now delete the old iTunes folder to free up hard drive space.
Exporting iTunes playlists: With iTunes, you can export a playlist onto a different computer to have the same playlist in both places.
Tip: You must also copy the songs, videos, podcast episodes, and audio books in the playlist for the playlists on the other computer to work. Better yet, copy the entire artist folders containing the items to keep them organized. Exporting a playlist doesn’t copy the items in the playlist. You get only a list of the items in eXtensible Markup Language (XML) format — not the content of these items. You still need to copy the actual media files to the other computer.
To export a single playlist, select the playlist and then choose File>Library>Export Playlist. On a Mac, choose the XML option from the Format pop-up menu in the Save: iTunes dialog and then click the Save button. On a Windows PC, choose the XML option from the Save as Type drop-down down list in the Save As dialog.
After exporting a playlist to another computer, you can import the playlist into iTunes on that computer by choosing File>Library>Import Playlist, selecting the XML file, and then clicking the Choose button. You can also export all the playlists in your library at the same time by choosing File>Library>Export Library and saving the Library.xml file; then import the Library.xml file into iTunes on the other computer by choosing File>Library>Import Playlist.
Manipulating an iTunes Library
You can create more than one iTunes library and manage multiple libraries with one copy of the iTunes application on your computer. You can also create one or more sublibraries of your main library on the same hard drive, and you can even set up automatic synchronization with a sublibrary. You might want to do this if you share your computer with someone else who also wants to keep a unique iTunes library, or your main library is too large to fit on an iPad, iPod, or iPhone, and you don’t want to resort to manually managing music and videos. Because iTunes can create the sublibrary without copying content files, you don’t waste hard drive space because sublibraries share the same files as the main library.
Consider setting up multiple libraries or sublibraries if you want to do any of the following:
- Create one or more sublibraries of your main library on the same hard drive, sharing the same content folders and files. You can then automatically synchronize different iPads, iPods, iPhones, and Apple TVs with each sublibrary.
- Divide a large library into separate libraries on separate hard drives. You might want to do this to spread a large library over several drives. You can then automatically synchronize different iPad, iPods, iPhones, and Apple TVs with each library.
- Separate your video collection from your music collection to store the larger video files on a different hard drive.
- Keep podcasts in a separate library that’s updated more often than your main library.
- Keep all new content separate from older content.
To create a new library, hold down Option (Mac) or Shift (PC) when launching iTunes. Then choose Create a New Library (the other choices are Quit or Choose a Library) to set up a new empty library.
By default, the hard drive location of the iTunes folder for the newly created library is the same as the previously opened library — the folder is named iTunes 1 to distinguish it from the iTunes folder for the preexisting library. When you add more separate libraries, the folders are named iTunes 2, iTunes 3, and so on.
After you create multiple libraries, remember to hold down Option (Mac) or Shift (Windows) while launching iTunes whenever you want to switch between them. Otherwise, iTunes opens with the library that was last opened.
You can import playlists and drag content from your iTunes folder into your new library without copying the content files because the files are in the same folder on the same hard drive. This makes it easy to consider your main library to be a Master library that links to the entire contents of the iTunes folder as well as to create sublibraries for each iPad, iPod, iPhone, or Apple TV that share the same content files as the Master library.
You can also create a new library that links to a different iTunes folder on a different hard drive so that the content files are divided (not shared) between libraries. For example, you might want to put all video files on a separate hard drive in a separate library. Follow these steps to create a new library on a different hard drive:
- Create a folder — call it iTunes1 or something similar — on the other hard drive. iTunes1 is a good name, but you could call it anything, and iTunes can still find it when you’re done with these steps.
- Create a new iTunes library by holding down Option (Mac) or Shift (PC) when launching iTunes and then choose Create a New Library. The new iTunes library is created, empty of content.
- Choose iTunes>Preferences (Mac) or Edit>Preferences (Windows). The Preferences dialog appears with the tabs along the top.
- Click the Advanced tab.
- Click the Change button for the iTunes Media folder location. Your directory browser appears, enabling you to create and then select a folder to locate your iTunes content files. Alternatively, you can click the Reset button to restore the standard location in your user directory (the default setting when you first use iTunes).
- Using the directory browser, select the folder you created in Step 1.
- Activate the iTunes folder management options. Make sure that the Keep iTunes Media Folder Organized option and the Copy Files to iTunes Media Folder When Adding to Library option are both selected.
- Click the OK button to close Preferences.
The new library links to the new folder location so that when you add new content to the library, the content is copied to the new folder. If the purpose of your new library is to hold all your videos, you can now copy all your videos from the original library’s content folder to the iTunes window, adding the content to the new library. iTunes copies the content files to the new folder. You can then delete the videos from the original library.