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Other iTunes Tricks

What other changes can you make in iTunes that will make a difference to your iPod?

  • Show Duplicate Songs. Prior to the release of iTunes 4.7, iTunes and iPod users were routinely vexed by an iTunes library that contained duplicate songs. Not only did these things clutter up the iTunes library, but they took up valuable space on the iPod. Apple decided to make tracking down duplicates a bit easier by adding a Show Duplicate Songs command to iTunes.

    The command works pretty much as advertised. Just select your iTunes library in iTunes' Source list and choose Show Duplicate Songs from the Edit menu. iTunes' main window will list all the duplicates it finds. Once these songs have been listed, you're welcome to delete any that you don't want.

    Before doing so, note that iTunes isn't terribly discerning about what is and isn't a duplicate. It filters tracks by only title and artist. This is fine if you've accidentally ripped the same CD twice, but you could run into trouble if you have both the live and studio versions of Led Zeppelin's “Black Dog.” The Show Duplicate Songs command considers these to be duplicates even though you know better.

    And while I'm issuing notes, I might also mention that Show Duplicate Songs works only with songs in your iTunes library and its playlists. If you select your iPod—even if it's configured to be updated manually—the Show Duplicate Songs command is grayed out.

    If you're a Mac user and would like a better filter—one that identifies duplicates by title, artist, album, and file size—take a look at Hyperbolic Software's free iTunes Dupes Barrier (http://www.hyperbolicsoftware.com/downloads.html).

  • Change the iPod's name. When your iPod appears on the Mac's Desktop, within Windows' My Computer window, or in iTunes, it has a name—Mr. iPod, for example. If you've decided that your iPod is of the female, rather than male, persuasion, you might want to change its name to Ms. iPod. To do so, click the iPod's name on the Desktop or in the My Computer window, wait for the name to highlight, and enter its new name. Or click the iPod entry in the iTunes Source list to highlight the device, click the name to highlight it, and enter a new name.

    This new name will appear in the iPod's Info window the next time the iPod is updated.

  • Separately change the view settings for the iPod. In iTunes' Edit menu, you'll find the View Options command. You use this command to determine the kind of information iTunes displays for items in the main window—the year songs were recorded and the date they were added to the Library, for example. Although you may want to sort tunes in the Library six ways to Sunday, you may be less inclined to do so when you view the information on your iPod (particularly because the iPod can't display a lot of these categories). Fortunately, you don't have to. You can create different view settings for every item in the Source List—including the iPod and each playlist on it.

  • Create a randomized playlist. You're probably aware that you can randomize the playback of the songs in your iTunes library or in a selected playlist by pressing the Shuffle button, located next to the Create a Playlist button at the bottom of the iTunes window. With iTunes 4.6's Party Shuffle feature you can create a random playlist and then make adjustments to it—remove songs or shift their position in the playlist—as it plays. Just click the Party Shuffle entry in iTunes' Source list, and a selection of your music appears in random order in iTunes' main window. If you don't care for theorder of the songs—or even for some of the songs that appear in the list—you can move songs by dragging them up or down the playlist or select a song you don't want to hear and press the Delete key on your computer keyboard to remove it from the playlist.

    And this affects the iPod how? If you create a Party Shuffle playlist that you particularly like, select your iPod in the Source list, click the iPod Preferences icon, and flip the iPod into manual mode. Then drag the Party Shuffle entry in the Source list to your iPod's icon in the Source list. A new playlist is created on your iPod: Party Shuffle, which contains the same playlist as the one in the original Party Shuffle playlist on your computer.

    If you prefer not to change your iPod from automatic syncing to manual mode, you can take the extra step to create a new playlist on your computer, call it Cool Party Shuffle, select all the songs in your Party Shuffle playlist, drag those songs into the Cool Party Shuffle playlist, and sync your iPod. The Cool Party Shuffle playlist is copied to the iPod.

  • Print the contents of your iPod. Another recent addition to iTunes is the ability to print CD jewel-case inserts and lists of songs for the selected playlist. As far as iTunes' Print command is concerned, your iPod is just another playlist. To print the contents of your iPod, just select it in iTunes' Source list, choose Print from the File menu, enable the Song Listing option in the resulting Print dialog box, and choose Songs from the Theme pop-up menu. Then click the Print button, and before you know it, you'll have page after page of songs, artists, and albums you can flap in front of the faces of your iPod-less friends.

  • View iTunes Visuals. Yes, when you play songs from the iPod through your computer (see the “Manually Manage Songs and Playlists” section), you can switch on iTunes Visuals—the program's groovy light-show feature. Visuals respond to the iPod's music just as they would to a song played directly on your computer, though you may find that they react a bit more slowly when you play from the iPod.

  • Use iTunes AppleScripts (Macintosh only). Apple offers a host of helpful AppleScripts for iTunes that allow you to do such things as look up the entire output of an artist on the Web. Included in these AppleScripts is the iPod Library Summary script, which you'll find in the AppleScript menu when you add these scripts (Figure 2.27). When you highlight your iPod's name in the Source list and sort your iPod's tunes by Artist, this script generates a text file that includes the artist, album, song title, and play time of every song on your iPod. This file is tab-delimited and can be imported easily into a spreadsheet application such as AppleWorks or Microsoft Excel. You can find these scripts at www.apple.com/applescript/itunes/index.html.

    Figure 2.27. A helpful AppleScript can be yours for the downloading.

  • Get iPod help. If you have an iPod, you know that the manual provides the basics, but not much more. When you want to get help with your iPod (I mean, other than in the pages of this quite-helpful book), choose iPod Help from iTunes' Help menu (Figure 2.28).

    Figure 2.28. Need help? You'll find it here.



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