At nearly 90MB in size, iTunes is no small installation. But with this heftiness comes many new features designed to appeal to both iTunes novices and seasoned users.
Now that the iTunes universe will be welcoming many more users with the introduction of the iPad, we thought it would be a good time to break down some of our favorite features and offer tips on ways to better manage your i-Devices, share content with others in your household, create wish lists, and much, much more. Use these tips to make your iTunes interaction better.
iTunes made it simple to purchase and download your favorite flicks from the comfort of your couch, but these movies lack an element that their DVD cousins possess: special features. Fortunately, iTunes 9 makes this part of the movie watching experience with iTunes Extras, which lets film fans check out interviews, photos, trailers, and more. As we went to print, there were 25 movies in the iTunes Extras section (Batman Begins, Iron Man, Wall-E, and others), priced between $9.99 and $19.99. Keep in mind that while Extras is accessible from your Apple TV, it’s not compatible with iPod or iPhone.
Do you frequently stumble upon an album, movie, music video, song, or television show that catches your fancy while browsing the iTunes Store, but don’t want the act of immediately purchasing it to stymie your window shopping session? Add it to your wish list by clicking the arrow next to the price of the item and selecting Add To Wish List from the drop-down menu. You can view the contents of your wish list by clicking the arrow next to your e-mail address in the upper-right portion of iTunes and selecting Wish List.
Genius Mixes is a virtual DJ that analyzes the music in your library and creates playlists of music designed to sound great together. If you’d like to test iTunes 9’s ability to create a pleasing mix, you’ll have to activate the feature (it’s turned off by default). To do this, simply click Genius. A description of Genius will appear in the main content field; click Turn On Genius and log in (if you aren’t already). Genius will gather song information from your library and send it to Apple. When you select a song, press the Genius button at the bottom of the window to be taken to the Genius playlist, where you’ll see selected and related songs.
The App Store is a wonderful gateway to thousands of apps that can transform your iPhone or iPod touch into an eReader, gaming console, and myriad other tools. Until now, arranging those programs across the various devices’ pages was a task performed on the respective handheld, not within iTunes. The new version of the software gives you the option of rearranging the apps on your Mac or PC by dragging them with the pointer, and then syncing the new arrangement to your iPhone or iPod touch. You can even move multiple applications at once by pressing Command/Ctrl and clicking each app you’d like to relocate.
By default, iTunes 9 doesn’t have the music columns that were mainstays in previous versions of the application. You can, however, bring them back with Column Browser by clicking View > Show Column Browser (or using the Command + B shortcut). It’s easy to add or subtract the album, artist, composer, genre. Also, you can add group columns, positioning them on top or to the left of the main content area for a customized column view.
If you wanted to add content to iTunes before the latest release, you needed to manually move a file into the program or launch it so that iTunes would copy it over before playing it. That is no longer the case. A fresh install of iTunes 9 creates a Media folder within your iTunes folder (if upgrading from a previous version it’ll be named iTunes Music), in which you’ll find yet another folder: Automatically Add to iTunes. Content placed in this folder will be analyzed by iTunes for compatibility and added to your library the next time the application opens (files that aren’t compatible will be shuffled off to the Not Added folder). This feature is handy because you can download content directly to that folder for automatic importing without needing to specifically address that file. Note: WMA files placed into this folder will be converted into MP3s, but don’t fret: A copy of the original format will be added to the Not Added folder.
Apple believes sharing is caring, so iTunes 9 allows users to post links of their favorite content on Facebook or Twitter. Doing so is simple: Clicking the arrow next to the price opens a drop-down menu that lets you select which account to share on. You’ll then be taken to that social networking site’s login page to sign in with your username and password. Once inside, you’ll see that the link has been automatically attached to the status update field, which you can send to your friends and followers with the press of a button.
Want to share movies, music, and TV shows with other users on your home network? Home Sharing lets you browse the iTunes libraries of up to five authorized computers (also running iTunes 9), import what you like, and automatically add new purchases made on any of the computers to your own Mac or PC. To set this
feature up, simply connect to your network, click Advanced > Turn On Home Sharing, and log in. Other computers on your network will appear under the Shared heading. Note: Only content purchased from iTunes is automatically imported. Other content must be manually moved.
The iTunes Store now sports a new layout that’s highlighted by a strip of drop-down menus (located above the main content area) that allows fast access to Apple’s main categories (App Store, Audiobooks, iTunes U, Movies, Music, Podcasts, and TV Shows) and their various genres. In addition, iTunes 9 serves up quick-look previews of album data; clicking the small “i” icon in the bottom-right corner of the album image launches a pop-up that displays its user rating, track listing, and prices for both the album and individual tracks.
Wax may be nothing more than an indie trend these days, but the visual experience of album art and info lives on in the form of iTunes LP. Select albums now allow you to dive deep into an artist’s world by including liner notes, lyrics, photos, video performances, and other goodies—for a premium. For example, Peter Gabriel’s nine-track classic So normally costs $8.91, but the enhanced LP version adds three B-sides and five music videos for $13.99. These extra features can only be accessed from within iTunes 9 and on Apple TVs (not on your iPhone or iPod touch). But if you’re a music diehard, iTunes LP is a feature not to be overlooked.