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Tooling Around

As I tap out these words, The Store carries more than a million songs. Fortunately, you needn't trudge through an alphabetical list of all these titles. Instead, Apple offers you multiple ways to browse its catalog of compositions. Let's look at The Store's floor plan and the best ways to navigate it.

Navigating The Store's Floors

The Store's main page offers a host of links for finding the music you need (Figure 4.4). Much like a “real” record shop, The Store places the day's most popular picks up front.

Figure 4.4. The Store's main page.

Here's what you'll find on the home page.

Primary links

Across the top of the main page, you'll see a banner that changes from time to time. This banner may promote hot new singles or albums, exclusive tracks, or music videos available only at The Store.

Below the banner are side-scrolling windows that contain picture links to New Releases, Exclusive Tracks, Pre-Releases (a cut from an upcoming album, for example), Just Added, and Staff Favorites (yup, Dark Side of the Moon is bound to grace this list on a regular basis—and honestly, is there anyone over the age of 30 who doesn't own this album already?). Click the arrows to the side of each list to scroll forward or backward through the list of selections. These lists generally contain 16 selections each.

On a slowish connection, it takes a while for these lists to scroll. You can scan these categories far more quickly if you click the See All link in the top-right corner of each category. When you do, you'll be taken to a page that contains all the entries for that category (as well as album cover art) on one page—with the exception of the New Releases and Just Added links, for which you'll see all the new releases from the past few weeks displayed as text links.

Arrayed along the top-left side of the main page are text links that direct you to many of The Store's most interesting features. They include:

Search links

The two links at the top of the list—Browse Music and Power Search—hint that there are more efficient ways to find music than clicking the song and album titles you see on The Store's home page.

Browse Music

The Store offers a Browser view much like the view you see when you select your library or a playlist and choose Show Browser from iTunes' Edit menu. (In point of fact, selecting this command produces the same result as clicking the Browse Music link.) Click Browse Music, and iTunes' Browser columns appear, listing Charts, Radio Charts (we'll get to those in a minute), and The Store's various Genres in the leftmost column. Click a Genre entry, and a list of artists appears in the middle column.

Click an artist's name, and available albums by that artist appear in the last column. Click an album title, and the music contained on that album appears in the Results area below.

The Results area is divided into columns titled Song Name, Time, Artist, Album, Genre, and Price (Figure 4.5). You can sort the list by any of these criteria by clicking the appropriate column head. Click Artist, for example, and the list is sorted alphabetically by artist. Click Time, and the list is sorted by shortest to longest playing time.

Figure 4.5. The Store's no-nonsense Browser view.

You'll notice that a right-pointing arrow appears on the right side of entries in both Artist and Album views. Clicking this arrow allows you to travel to the page devoted to that album or artist—a great way to explore an album or an artist's catalog after searching for a single song.

Biography and Influences & Contemporaries

The first iteration of The Store provided a lot of great ways to explore new music—Staff Favorites, top songs and albums, and listener links—but Apple wanted to do a bit more to help you locate and buy music that might be to your liking. Thus, the Biography and Influences & Contemporaries links were born.

Situated on the pages of popular artists, the Biography link does exactly what you'd expect: transports you to a detailed biography of the artist, along with a discography (which includes all the artist's albums, not simply those available at The Store), a list of compilation albums, a videography, a bibliography, and (where appropriate) a filmography (Figure 4.6). If songs and albums mentioned on these pages are available from The Store, you'll see live links.

Figure 4.6. Learn about the lives of your favorite artists.

The Influences & Contemporaries link is both helpful and occasionally amusing. And what makes it so?

It's helpful because every so often, you'll learn about artists you might normally miss. The Followers portion of Elvis Costello's Influences & Contemporaries page, for example, directed me to a charming Canadian singer/songwriter, Ron Sexsmith. I'm now a fan.

I find some of these links amusing because it turns out that—according to The Store, at least—nearly every popular musician who's had a hit in the past 40 years was influenced by the same seven Bob Dylan albums (Figure 4.7). And why do so many R&B artists on the site prefer James Brown's 20 All Time Greatest Hits rather than the album Brown aficionados cite as most influential—Can Your Heart Stand It!!?

Figure 4.7. Gee, this Zimmerman fella is one influential cat.

Larger forces are at work, of course. Can Your Heart Stand It!! isn't available from The Store and, thus, is not cited as an influence. Likewise, because the Beatles' repertoire is currently unavailable at The Store, you'll find that the Fab Four were far less influential than you might have imagined.

The list of Contemporaries is helpful to the extent that you gain a very general idea of the kind of music you might like if you care for the work of a particular artist. But the entries in this list are often off by a wide margin. The Stevie Nicks/Lindsay Buckingham-era Fleetwood Mac, for example, is cited as a contemporary of the Yardbirds—a British R&B band (featuring, at one time or another, guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page) that broke up when Nicks and Buckingham were still eyeing each other during second-period geometry class at Menlo Atherton High School.

Obviously, work in this area remains to be done. But because there are hours of entertainment value in trying to discover just how many artists owe their livelihoods to the work of Misters Dylan and Brown, I sincerely hope that the work isn't done until after you've read this book.

Power Search

If you want to be a power shopper, you must learn to take advantage of The Store's Power Search function.

When you click the Power Search link on the main page or choose Power Search from the pop-up menu below the magnifying-glass icon in the Search field, you're taken to a page where you can search for music based on such factors as song title, artist, album, genre, and composer. This feature comes in handy when you want to really narrow your search (Figure 4.8).

Figure 4.8. Power Search.

If you performed a simple search for the song “Blue Moon” by entering its title in the Search field, you'd be presented with 532 matches. Even if you search by song title, you'll get just over 200 results. Invoke Power Search, however, and you can narrow things down quite nicely.

If you're interested in vocal renditions of “Blue Moon,” for example, enter Blue Moon in the Song field and then choose Vocal from the Genre pop-up menu. Aha—now you get just 19 matches. Had you entered Billie Holiday in the Artist field, you'd see only five matches.

Power Search is also useful when you aren't quite sure what you're looking for. You may recall hearing a David Bowie song that set your toes a-tapping, but all you can remember of the lyrics is the word Detroit. Just launch Power Search, and enter Bowie in the Artist field and Detroit in the Song field. Woo-hoo! Up pops a link to “Panic in Detroit” from Bowie's Aladdin Sane album.

Feature links

The next group of links directs you to specific features offered by The Store. Some are music-related, whereas others are present to highlight a new or particularly attractive Store add-on. They include:


When The Store first opened its doors, it included a Books & Spoken genre. Despite the implications of this name, material within this genre did not include “books on tape” material; rather, it meant comedy records (Bill Cosby, Firesign Theatre, and Richard Pryor, for example) and excerpts from radio broadcasts and literary readings, such as William S. Burroughs reading a portion of Naked Lunch.

When The Store was updated to accommodate Windows users, Apple dropped the Books & Spoken genre and introduced Audiobooks, a collection of more than 5,000 “books on tape” items provided by Audible.com.

And what has Apple done with all the material that used to be in the now-absent Books & Spoken genre? That material is still available in the new Comedy genre—a genre listed in the Power Search window but not in the Genre pop-up menu on the main page. Not everything listed in this genre is comedy—the aforementioned William S. Burroughs reading, for example—but enough of the material is humorous that the classification generally makes sense. Perhaps Apple will have constructed a Comedy page by the time you read this book. If not, use the Search or Power Search function to find the laughs you like.

The easiest way to access The Store's literary section is to choose Audiobooks from the Genre pop-up menu on the main page. When you do, you'll be taken to the Audiobooks page, which looks remarkably like any other Store genre page (Figure 4.9).

Figure 4.9. The Audiobooks page.

When you click the Audiobooks link, you'll be taken to a page that looks very much like one of the music pages. As this book goes to press, the Audiobooks page is divided into easy-to-understand categories: New & Noteworthy, Behind the Music (music-oriented books), Fiction, Nonfiction, and Classics. The New & Noteworthy, Fiction, and Nonfiction categories include the kind of material you'd find in a well-stocked airport bookstore—fairly current titles that are likely to appeal to a broad audience. The Classics selections include titles that many people are required to read by the time they've finished their freshman year of college: Atlas Shrugged, Crime and Punishment, 1984, and Moby Dick, for example. Regrettably, this page doesn't include a Staff Favorites category (and given the generic nature of the books in the categories that do appear on the page, it could use one).

The left side of the Audiobooks page offers links to more-specific categories of books, including Business, Comedy (books, not recordings), History, Mystery, Religion & Spirituality, Sci Fi & Fantasy, and Technology. Click one of these links, and you'll go to a browser view, where you can search by author.

On the right side of the Audiobooks page, you'll find a list of the day's 20 top-selling books, along with a link to the top 100 books The Store has sold that day. Much like the music top 100 lists, the page of 100 top-selling books includes a picture of the cover of the book, the price of the book, and a Buy Book link. To get more information about a particular title, click its picture. You'll go to a page where you can read a description of the book and listen to a 90-second preview.

Inexplicably, the list of authors is sorted by first name. This isn't a terrible burden with modern authors whose first and last names are well known—Stephen King, Amy Tan, and Chris Breen, to name a few of today's most prominent writers—but I pity the high-school student who wasn't paying attention when a teacher casually mentioned that Mr. Balzac was christened Honoré. If you get flummoxed in such situations, feel free to use iTunes' Search field.

Fresher Air

The Store carries several radio shows originally broadcast by National Public Radio, including the hysterically funny “Car Talk” and Ira Glass' thought-provoking “This American Life.” The Store also carries a selection of Terry Gross' wonderful interview program, “Fresh Air.” Anyone who's anyone in the performing and literary arts has been a guest on this show (as have many prominent journalists, business leaders, and politicians).

If you enter Fresh Air or Terry Gross in the Search field, however, you'll find that it's difficult to find the program you want, because the resulting page contains hundreds of entries. As this book goes to press, 1,027 “Fresh Air” broadcasts are available for purchase (at $2.95 each), so trying to locate that Tony Bennett interview may be difficult unless you know this secret:

Use Power Search.

To find the “Fresh Air” program you want, choose Power Search from the pop-up menu in the Search field. In the Artist field, enter Terry Gross; and in the Album field, enter the name you're looking for, such as Eddie Izzard (Figure 4.10). In a short while, “Fresh Air” broadcasts that match your search appear.

Figure 4.10. Use Power Search to track down your favorite “Fresh Air” interviews.

At the risk of taking money out of Apple's pockets, I should mention that you can get recordings of “Fresh Air” programs recorded after the year 2000 by visiting http://freshair.npr.org. Unlike the shows sold at The Store, these files are formatted for Real Networks' RealPlayer—meaning that you can't save them unless you use such programs as Rogue Amoeba's Audio Hijack (Mac), Ambrosia Software's WireTap (Mac), or 1st Benison Software's All Recorder (PC) to record them as they stream to your computer (see Chapter 2 to be reminded how to do this). What might take the sting out of this inconvenience is that the NPR site offers more “Fresh Air” programs than The Store does—and they're free from NPR.

You needn't worry that you'll have to jump through extra hoops to purchase audio books from The Store. Unlike Audible.com, The Store doesn't make you decide which format you want the book delivered in: a lower-quality file that takes up less space (and downloads faster) or a higher-quality file that takes longer to download because of its larger file size. That's because The Store delivers audio books in only one format. When you purchase an audio book, you can expect to receive a mono file, encoded in The Store's protected AAC format at a bit rate of 32 Kbps and a sample rate of 24 kHz.

The audio-savvy among my readers may issue a rude “Phhhhhttttppp…” after reading these specifications. But let me assure you that although I wouldn't care to live on a diet of music encoded at these settings, spoken-word content is perfectly listenable.

Book Burning

Unless the narrator of your purchased audio novel or work of nonfiction reads very quickly, the play time for your purchase is likely to be measured in hours. Yet a recordable CD can store only about 80 minutes of audio. How do you cram all that narration onto a single CD?

You can't. When iTunes burns a book to disc, it converts the file to the AIFF format required by audio CDs—a format that consumes 10 MB of hard disk space per minute of stereo audio.

Fortunately, iTunes provides an easy way to record your audio books to disc. When you select a file that will exceed the recording capacity of an audio CD and ask iTunes to burn a disc, the program offers to split the file into lengths that can fit on a CD. (If you must know, each segment is 1 hour, 19 minutes, and 56 seconds.) When iTunes fills one CD, it spits it out and asks for another blank disc. It continues to spit and ask until it finishes burning the entire file to disc.

The resulting discs won't be named in an intuitive way—“War and Peace” I, II, and III, for example. Rather, each will simply read “Audio CD” when you insert it into your Mac or PC. For this reason, you should keep a Sharpie at the ready to label each disc as it emerges from your CD burner.

You may notice that the audio books you purchase begin with a short advertisement from Audible.com. Although I understand that advertising helps turn the wheels of capitalism, I slightly resent paying for a product and then being subjected to ads. For this reason, when I purchase an audio book, I click it in iTunes, choose Get Info from the File menu, click the Options tab, enter 0:09 in the Start Time field, and click the OK button. This procedure truncates the first nine seconds of the file—which, coincidentally, is exactly as long as the Audible.com advertisement. Then I can listen to the file advertisement-free.


If you follow the tittle-tattle of Hollywood, you're aware that the relationship between Disney and Apple CEO Steve Jobs' movie company, Pixar, is a little strained (and if you don't follow the aforementioned TT, I'll just say that currently, Pixar and Disney mix about as well as oil and water). The two companies' music relationship seems fairly chummy, however, as evidenced by this featured link to soundtracks from Disney movies. Whether you crave music from such Disney classics as Mary Poppins and 101Dalmatians or recordings of Disney/Pixar's recent offerings, you can find it here.


A recent addition, iMix is your chance to inflict your musical values on the rest of the world by publishing a playlist of your favorite (or, heck, your least-favorite) songs (Figure 4.11). When you click the iMix link, you're taken to a page that contains three columns marked Top Rated, Most Recent, and Featured. Click an album cover to view (and purchase, if you like) the songs in it.

Figure 4.11. Share your musical tastes with the world.

As enjoyable as it may be to view others' iMixes, it's more fun to create your own. You can do so by following these steps:

Create a new playlist in iTunes, and give it a really cool name.

I hate to rain on your parade, but your iMix is going to get very little attention if you call it “My Favorite Songs.” Part of the joy of creating these things is grouping songs in unexpected or humorous ways. A recent meander through The Store's Top Rated iMixes revealed Big Hair Songs (tunes by such hair-apparents as Bon Jovi, Warrant, Poison, and Cinderella) and The Periodic Table (song titles such as “Helium,” “Carbon,” “Chlorine,” and “Iodine”).

Cruise through your iTunes library, and drag into it songs you'd like to publish as an iMix.

Note that your iMix can contain only songs available for purchase from The Store. If the iMix contains songs not available at The Store, those songs won't appear in the published playlist.

Round out your list with songs at The Store that you don't own.

An iMix doesn't require that you actually own the music you're recommending. You can now drag previews of any of The Store's songs or audio books into a playlist in iTunes' Source list. Feel free to add these previews to your iMix playlist.

Click the arrow to the right of your playlist's name.

Clicking this arrow produces a dialog box that warns you that you're about to create and upload an iMix.

Click Create.

You'll be taken to The Store, and iTunes' main window will show you a picture of the cover of your album (a collage of album covers from songs you've included).

Edit the title and description to suit your iMix.

Click Publish.

Your iMix will be published to The Store and will remain there for one year. You'll receive an email confirmation of the iMix's publication.

Tell a friend.

The window that tells you that your iMix has been published also offers the Tell a Friend button. Click this button to view the Tell a Friend screen, where you can send an email announcement to whoever you like. When your announcement has been sent, you have the option to send another.

Click Done when you're finished.

Your iMix won't appear in the Most Recent column right away. Apple vets these things, and if it doesn't approve of your iMix's title, it won't appear.

Suppose that you created your iMix under less-than-optimal conditions—you were in a bad mood, you'd just seen Avril Lavigne pouting her way across the late-night airwaves and decided to exact your revenge by creating an “Oh, do grow up!” iMix, or you mistook a bottle of gin for Gatorade and then created an ill-advised iMix. What can you do to erase your work? Simple. Click the Account button at the top of the iTunes window, enter your Apple ID and password when prompted, and click the Manage iMixes button on the resulting Apple Account Information page. In the resulting page, you'll find controls for removing any of your iMixes.

When Apple first offered iMixes, it left out an important component—the ability to search other customers' iMixes. You could spend days creating the perfect playlist, but unless it rose to the top of the ratings or you spammed the entire world with announcements for it, very few people saw it. With the release of iTunes 4.7, that's all changed. Click the magnifying glass icon in the search field, and you'll spy the iMixes entry. Select this entry, enter any search term you like, and you'll be transported to a page that includes any iMixes that match your search.

Billboard Charts

Clicking the Billboard Charts link takes you to The Store's browser view. Apple, in league with Billboard magazine, has collected the Billboard Hot 100, Billboard Top Country, and Billboard Top R&B lists for the past umpteen years (umpteen in this case meaning as far back as 1946).

These charts list only those songs that are available at The Store, so you'll find gaps in them. During the mid- and late '60s, for example,the Beatles owned many of the top spots on the Billboard charts, yet the lads from Liverpool appear nowhere in these charts. When a song isn't available, numbers are simply skipped. The top three spots in 1968's Hot 100 are missing, for example.

Radio Charts

If you've been following along at The Store while reading this chapter, you know that the same browser view that displays Billboard Charts is also the home of Radio Charts. This is a relatively new feature and an incredibly helpful one. It works this way:

When you click Radio Charts, you'll see a list of cities in the browser's second column. Click a city, and a list of FM radio stations in that city appears in the browser's third column. Click a radio station, and a list of 60 or fewer songs available at The Store that are routinely played on that station appear below. These lists not only help you learn what music is topping the charts from coast to coast, but they're also a nice way to find music you've heard on the radio and failed to get the name of. Chances are that if a song's in constant rotation, it will appear in iTunes' Radio Charts.

Video links

The next logical step for The Store is to move into the movie market—sell videos as well as music. That day has yet to dawn, but Apple's toe is definitely in the water, as indicated by The Store's Music Videos and Movie Trailers links.

Music Videos

The Music Videos link takes you to a page of…well, music videos. Click a video, and you're offered the option to watch the small or large version of a QuickTime video that's streamed to your computer (if you have a small monitor, you may have to scroll the window to see the size buttons). Viewing a video requires that you have Apple's QuickTime installed (as of course you do, because iTunes requires it). Choose the version you want, and a black movie window appears, after which the movie begins to stream across your Internet connection. When enough of the movie has been downloaded to ensure smooth playback of the entire thing, the movie begins playing.

You'll find two links on these video pages: one in the video window that will take you to the artist's page and the traditional purchase/ preview link to the song played in the video.

Movie Trailers

Apple has offered QuickTime movie trailers on its Web site for quite some time (www.apple.com/trailers). Now it's brought trailers to The Store as well. Rather than simply showing off the wonders of QuickTime (as is the case on its original trailers site), Apple offers trailers at The Store in part to sell soundtrack albums. When you click the Movie Trailers link, you'll be taken to a page that displays links to current movie trailers; trailers for recently released DVDs; and, of course, links to popular soundtrack albums available for purchase at The Store.

By default, you're not allowed to keep copies of any of the music videos and few of the movie trailers, but there are ways around it. If you're a Mac user, you can download iGetMovies from http://homepage.mac.com/djodjodesign and save a copy of the video to your Mac. If you're working on a Windows PC, you can use a screen-capture utility to record these videos. Note that the audio in these videos is recorded at a resolution of 32kHz—quality noticeably inferior to that of songs sold at The Store. Rather than steal the music that accompanies these videos by capturing it, pay the $.99 Apple asks for. Your conscience and ears will feel better for it.

Gift and support links

The final group of links in the first pane of The Store's home page direct you to an area for bestowing the gift of music on your nearest and dearest, an area for redeeming those gifts, and a Support link that directs you to The Store's Web page.


An iTunes Allowance can best be described as a gift certificate (which I'll describe in a moment) that keeps on giving. After you create an allowance, the recipient of your largesse will have his or her Store credit bumped up by the amount that you've designated (values include $10–$100 in ten dollar increments and $150 and $200) on the first day of each month. Just as when you purchase a gift certificate, your credit card will be charged, not the recipient's.

Why set up an iTunes Allowance when you can simply give a gift certificate? Convenience, mostly. Sure, if your 17-year-old faithfully does her chores each month (and also refrains from damaging the family car too badly), you could send her a gift certificate each month. But in many households, it's easier to give her a monthly music allowance and then, should her bed remain unmade for three weeks or the minivan return a little mini-er than when it left, pull the plug until she's made amends.

Creating an iTunes Allowance is very similar to giving a gift certificate. Just follow along:

Click the Allowance link.

Alternatively, you can click the Account button in the top-right corner of the iTunes window; enter your Apple ID when requested to do so; and in the resulting Apple Account Information page, click the Setup Allowance button.

In the Set up an iTunes Allowance window before you, you'll be asked to provide your name, the recipient's name, and a value for the monthly allowance. You'll also be given the option to send the allowance now or wait until the first of the next month. If your recipient doesn't have an Apple ID, you must create one for him or her. Otherwise, enter the ID in the Apple ID field. You can also append a personal message (Figure 4.12).

Figure 4.12. Making allowances.

Click Continue.

You'll be asked to enter your Apple ID and password. Then you're presented with the Confirm Your Purchase screen.

After you've checked everything twice, click Buy.

The next screen tells you that the allowance has been created.

Click Done to return to the Apple Account Information page.

Unfortunately, you can't create an allowance for your own account—and that's too bad, because this is a great way to put yourself on a budget. Those who can't resist the many temptations of The Store may want to create an additional Apple ID to issue an allowance from one ID to another. When you get close to exceeding your monthly allowance, you know it's time to pull in the reins. To create another Apple ID, you'll need to use a different email address from the one connected to your original Apple ID. I have one Apple ID set up for my .Mac address and another for an AOL address. I used the same credit card for both IDs, and The Store raised no objections.

After you've created an allowance, a new Manage Allowances button appears on your Apple Account Information page. When you click this button, you go to the Edit Allowances page, where you can add allowances or suspend or revoke any that you've created. When you revoke an allowance, any balance placed in the account remains; it won't be credited back to you.

If you think you're going to reinstate that allowance—for when your daughter has started making her bed again, for example—use the Suspend button. If you click Remove, you won't be able to put that allowance back into service; you must create a new one. To reactive a suspended account, return to this screen, and click the Activate button next to the account name. When you do, a dialog box will appear, asking whether you'd like to send the allowance immediately or wait until the first of the next month.

Gift Certificates

Just in time for the 2003 holidays, Apple updated The Store so that you could easily give someone the gift of music and audio books. It created iTunes Gift Certificates—electronic certificates in denominations ranging from $10 to $200 (specifically $10, $20, $30, $40, $50, $75, $100, $150, and $200) that you email to the objects of your affection.

To let your loved ones know how much you care (or how little you care to jump in the car and go to a bricks-and-mortar music store), follow these steps:

Click the Gift Certificates link.

Alternatively, you can click the Account button in the top-right corner of the iTunes window; enter your Apple ID and password when requested to do so; and in the resulting Apple Account Information page, click the Gift Certificates button.

In the iTunes Gift Certificates window before you, click the Buy Now button.

In the next window, provide your name, the recipient's name, and the recipient's email address; choose a value for the certificate; and, if you want to, enter a personal message (Figure 4.13).

Figure 4.13. Preparing an iTunes Gift Certificate.

Optionally, you can choose to send the gift certificate by snail mail (at least, you can with the U.S. iTunes Music Store). Clicking the Send via U.S. Mail button launches your Web browser and takes you to an Apple Store page, where you can create a gift certificate that Apple will mail to your recipient.

Click Continue.

You'll be asked to confirm that the information you entered was correct.

After you've checked everything twice, click Buy.

The next screen tells you that the certificate has been sent.

Click Buy Another, if you're feeling particularly generous, or click Done to return to the Apple Account Information page.

Because I know my audience is comprised of quality people—people who are likely to receive countless gift certificates—you might want to know what to expect should someone send a gift your way.

You'll receive an email message alerting you to the fact that some generous soul sent you a gift from The Store in an amount from $10 to $200 (Figure 4.14). If your email client is configured to load images, the message will display a green gift certificate, along with a button that reads Redeem Now and another labeled Download iTunes (just in case you don't have a copy of iTunes 4.1 or later already). If your email client displays text only, you'll still see the message from the sender, along with a link that you click to redeem your certificate.

Figure 4.14. It couldn't be much easier to redeem a gift certificate.

Clicking this link or the Redeem Now button launches iTunes and then opens The Store. Shortly after The Store loads, a dialog box asks whether you'd like to redeem your certificate. Click Redeem Gift Certificate, and another screen appears to tell you that you've successfully redeemed your certificate. You can confirm the truth of this statement by the appearance of a Credit field next to the Account button in iTunes. This field contains the amount of credit you have left on your certificate (or certificates, if you've received more than one). Click Done to return to The Store's main page.

There's another way to redeem gift certificates. Just click the Account button in the top-right corner of the iTunes window; enter your Apple ID when requested to do so; click the View Account button; and in the Apple Account Information page, click the Gift Certificates button. Click the Redeem button in the resulting iTunes Gift Certificate page. In the next page, enter the Gift Certificate confirmation number exactly as it appears in the email you received. Then click Redeem. If you entered the number correctly, you should see the confirmation page.

Now whenever you purchase items from The Store, the prices of those items will be deducted from the amount shown in the Credit field. Should the price of the items you're purchasing exceed the amount in the Credit field, your credit will be used up, and the balance will be charged to your Store account.

Gift certificates can be redeemed only from The Store from which they were issued. A gift certificate purchased at the German iTunes Music Store cannot be redeemed at the U.S. iTunes Music Store, for example.

Prepaid Cards

Apple and Target have joined forces to sell prepaid iTunes Music Store cards in $15 denominations. If you can't obtain a Store account because you lack a credit card or are looking for an easy-to-give gift, one of these cards is a nice way to go. If you've received such a prepaid card and want to redeem it, just click the Prepaid Cards link, enter the 16-digit code that appears on the back of the card, and click Redeem. In next to no time, your account will be credited.


To redeem your gift certificates easily, click this link. When you do, iTunes main window will be taken up with the Enter Code screen, where you enter a 12-digit gift certificate code to redeem your store credit.


With this book at your side (or, better yet, open in front of your face), you shouldn't need to click The Store's Support link, but should you come across a problem that's arisen since the publication of this edition, click this link to be taken to Apple's iTunes Support Web page. Here, you'll find answers to frequently asked questions about both iTunes and The Store.

iTunes Essentials

Although you can purchase entire albums from The Store (and are occasionally required to purchase an entire album to get all the songs on it), it's mostly a song-based enterprise. By this, I mean that The Store encourages you to pick and choose just the pieces of music you like.

Given this idea, it makes sense that Apple would offer compilations of songs, organized by some catchy sort of theme—Women in Bluegrass, Animation Classics, and It Came From TV!, for example. Apple calls these compilations iTunes Essentials, and you'll find a listing of recent iTunes Essentials smack-dab on The Store's home page.

Yes, these are essentially Apple's own iMixes—collections of songs the folks who work at The Store think you'll like (Figure 4.15). Unlike most of The Store's other albums, you get no discount for buying these compilations. If an iTunes Essential contains 17 songs, you pay $16.83, or $.99 per song.

Figure 4.15. The iTunes Essentials page.

Given that you realize no price break, what's the attraction? These compilations are likely to expose you to unfamiliar music that you might like. Many people appreciate Apple's expertise in this regard and are willing to pay extra for that guidance.

Celebrity Playlists

If you'd like to know what rocks the worlds of Moby, Fred Durst, Patti Smith, and The Presidents of the United States (no, I'm not exactly sure whether it was Millard Fillmore or Gerald Ford who picked the tunes for this particular list), click these links. The resulting page offers a list of tunes an artist thinks worthy. Of course, you can preview and purchase songs—either individually or the entire list—directly from this page. Some artists, such as Herbie Hancock and Sting, offer generous descriptions of why they chose a particular song. These recommendations can be enlightening—who wouldn't be interested in the music that Wynton Marsalis admires, for example—as well as amusing (R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe loves Neil Diamond's “I Am…I Said”!?).

Top of the pops

The right side of the main page offers its share of navigation links as well. Here, you'll find links to Today's Top Songs and Today's Top Albums. These lists include the top 10 recently downloaded songs and albums. Should you care to view the top 100 downloaded songs or top 100 downloaded albums, click the Top 100 Songs and Top 100 Albums links, respectively.

These Top lists don't point to the best music around. Remember, the technical requirements of The Store necessarily determine who shops there. The Store's clientele is confined to Macintosh owners running Mac OS X and Windows users running Windows XP or 2000, most of whom have a reasonably fast connection to the Internet. This demographic doesn't favor fans of Perry Como or Bix Beiderbecke, so don't be disappointed if your favorite artists never rise to the top of the charts.

Expedient iTunes Music Store Browsing

If you're weary of first visiting the home page of the iTunes Music Store and then traveling to the areas of The Store that really interest you, this tip will help.

Launch iTunes, and drag your favorite links from The Store onto your Desktop. If you want to view the page that displays The Store's Top 100 Songs, for example, drag the Today's Top Songs entry to the Desktop. When you do this, the entry turns into a Web Internet Location file.

To put this file to good use, launch iTunes; then double-click the file. Your default browser will launch. Then iTunes will come to the fore and load the page associated with the link.

A practical pop-up

Given the links to New Releases, Exclusive Tracks, Pre-Releases, Staff Favorites, videos, iTunes Essentials, Billboard and radio charts, Celebrity Playlists, and Today's Top Songs and Albums, as well as access to the Search and Browse functions, you should be well on your way, right?

Perhaps. But don't leave the main page without checking out the Choose Genre pop-up menu (Figure 4.16).

Figure 4.16. The Choose Genre pop-up menu.

You'll find this menu in the top-left corner of the main page. It's a great tool to use when you're in the mood for a particular style of music. Just click the menu and pick the genre that appeals to you, such as Folk or Dance.

Choosing an item from the Genre menu takes you to a page devoted to that genre (Figure 4.17). This page is laid out similarly to the main page, containing at least New Releases, Staff Favorites, and Just Added sections, plus an Up & Coming section, where appropriate. (You won't find an Up & Coming section for Soundtracks or Classical, for example.) Some genre pages include subcategory listings. On the Folk page, for example, you'll find links to '60s folk music. The Electronic page includes Chill Groove and Trip-Hop subcategories. And the last time I looked, the Jazz genre page included a Verve Vault subcategory featuring recordings from the classic jazz label.

Figure 4.17. A genre page.

The Today's Top Songs and Today's Top Albums lists change to reflect the most popular songs and albums within that genre. On these pages, you'll also find links to the top 100 songs and top 100 albums for that genre.

The Search field

Looking for a song, artist, or album in a hurry? Click in the Search field in the top-right corner of the iTunes window, enter your query, and press Return (Figure 4.18). After a few moments, you'll see a list of matches in the iTunes window.

Figure 4.18. The Search field.

You can narrow your search by clicking and holding the magnifying-glass icon in the Search menu and then choosing Artists, Albums, Composers, or Songs from the pop-up menu. (You can also access the iMixes and Power Search features from this pop-up menu.)

Fast Lane to The Store

With version 4.6 of iTunes, Apple incorporated one more quick way to get to The Store—the arrow links that, by default, appear next to song names, artists, and albums in your iTunes library and playlists. These arrows appear regardless of whether you ripped the songs from CD, purchased them from The Store, or obtained them by more nefarious means. As long as a song includes title, artist, or album information in its ID3 tags (a portion of a music file that holds this kind of information), it will sport an arrow link (Figure 4.19).

Figure 4.19. Click these arrows in your iTunes library to be taken to identical or similar items in The Store.

These links work this way:

Suppose you've ripped Crowded House's “ Don't Dream It's Over” from an audio CD. Click the arrow next to its name, and The Store opens, revealing the album page for the group's album Recurring Dream: The Very Best of Crowded House. Click the arrow next to Crowded House in your library's Artists column, and The Store takes you to the Crowded House artist page. As you might guess, clicking the arrow link in the Album column takes you to that album's page at The Store—if it exists. If the album isn't available, you're either directed to an artist page (click a link next to the Beatles' Abbey Road album, for example, and you're sent to The Store's Beatles page) or to the Power Search page, where you can use its powers to find the music you seek.

If you're a Mac user and would like to use these links to navigate to other songs in your library, hold down the Option key and click a link. When you do, songs connected to the link you clicked—all songs by an artist or the songs on an album—will appear in the iTunes window.

Not everyone is thrilled by these links. If you'd rather not see them, open iTunes' Preferences window, click the General tab, and disable the Show Links to Music Store option.

The Browse button

Have a slow connection to the Internet and find searching The Store painful because of the time it takes to download The Store's graphics? You can skip the eye candy by clicking the Browse button.

Doing so brings up a Browser view similar to the one I described earlier. Here's how to use it:

Click the Browse button.

The top portion of the iTunes window divides into three sections: Genre, Artist, and Album.

Click a genre you want to search (Electronic, for example).

iTunes accesses The Store, and after a while, a list of all artists linked to that genre appears in the second section.

Click an artist whose albums you'd like to view.

iTunes once again goes to The Store and downloads a list of available albums (or partial albums) by that artist.

Click the album you want to explore.

A list of songs available for purchase from that album appears in the Results Area.

When you double-click entries in the browser, you go to one of The Store's graphics-heavy pages. Double-click Pop in the Genre section, for example, and the page devoted to The Store's Pop selections appears, complete with colorful background and album covers. Likewise, double-clicking an artist or album entry transports you to the page devoted to that artist or album.

The way home

Should you ever wander into one of the scarier sections of The Store (say, the polka aisle), it's easy to find your way back to the main page. Simply click the Home icon at the top of the iTunes window (Figure 4.20), and you're transported to the main page.

Figure 4.20. The Home icon and the Back and Forward buttons.

Next to the Home icon, you'll see a path from your present location to the main page—Home/Rock/Peter Gabriel/Secret World Live, for example. To move up a level or two, simply click one of the entries in this hierarchy.

Another way to retrace your steps is to use the Back and Forward buttons just to the left of the Home icon. These buttons are similar to the Back and Forward buttons in your Web browser. Click the Back button to move to the page you viewed previously. If you've backtracked and want to go forward again, click the Forward button.

Audio Appetizers: Previewing Songs

How many times have you purchased a CD because you liked one track and discovered that the rest of the disc was utter dreck? Thanks to The Store's Preview feature, those days are over.

You can listen to 30 seconds of every song available from The Store. I can't stress strongly enough how cool this is. It's like waltzing into the kitchen of any restaurant on earth, whipping out a spoon, and taking a nibble of every dish on the menu.

“Mmm, I love this.”

“Whoa, too spicy!”

“I'm sorry—did I accidentally sample something intended for your dog?

Say What!?

If you haven't listened to urban music in the past couple of decades, you may not realize that some of this material is peppered (quite liberally, in some cases) with what can be politely termed “colorful” language (words such as &*(@#, $^%**&!, and the ever-popular %&^%#$%!!!). Rather than risk offending those who find such language offensive, The Store appends an EXPLICIT label to such material. If there's a version of the song edited to remove objectionable language, that song bears a CLEAN label.

That's right—no need to buy the entire five-course meal. At The Store, you can preview music and shop à la carte, buying just the songs that you like.

Previewing music is easy. Just select a song title and initiate the preview by clicking iTunes' Play button, double-clicking the song title, or pressing the spacebar on your keyboard. Your computer will access the Web, download the preview, and play 30 seconds of the song you selected (Figure 4.21).

Figure 4.21. The Playing Speaker icon next to a playing preview.

To preview the previous or next song in a list while a preview is playing, press the left-arrow key to play the previous song or the right-arrow key to play the next song.

If you have a slow connection to the Internet, you may notice that playback of previews stutters or stops in the middle and then, after an interruption, begins again. iTunes does its best to begin playback of previews only when it thinks it can complete the download and play the preview without interruption. Sometimes, though, iTunes guesses incorrectly, or an interruption of your connection forces the preview to stop playing while the remainder of the preview is downloaded.

If you suffer from previewus interruptus, choose Preferences from the iTunes menu on the Mac or the Edit menu on a Windows PC; click the Store button in the resulting window; and enable the Load Complete Preview Before Playing option, which tells iTunes to download the entire preview before playing it back.

Firewalls, Proxies, and Previews

If your computer sits behind a firewall or gains its access to the Internet via a shared proxy, you may not be able to listen to The Store's previews or even download music from The Store. The vagaries of firewalls and proxies are not within the scope of this book. (For readers who are somewhat savvy about such things, however, I will mention that The Store, like many of Apple's services, uses HTTP Port 80 to do its work.) Suffice it to say that if you double-click a song expecting to hear a preview, a small window that reads Opening URL pops up and disappears—and then you hear nothing, cock a curious eye at your Internet connection. If you're using a proxy, try to get away from it by establishing a direct connection to the Internet. If you can configure your firewall to be less vigorous, do so.

Learning About New Music

Suppose you're slavishly devoted to a particular artist. Wouldn't it be great if someone from The Store called you up to tell you that Your Very Favorite Artist had a brand new track ready for download? iTunes 4.7 offers the next best thing.

Just click on an artist's name to be taken to that artist's page. Glance over at the upper right corner of the page and you'll see the Artist Alert link. Click this link and up pops The Store's sign in dialog box. Enter your Apple ID and password, click Add, click OK in the confirmation dialog box, and the artist is added to your list of faves. When a new song from this artist becomes available, you'll receive an email alerting you to that fact.

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