If you want to move music, movies, games, podcasts to your iPod you must go through iTunes. It’s easy enough: you buy content from the iTunes Store or rip music from a CD and the tracks show up in iTunes. Then you plug in your iPod and everything’s transferred.
You may never have looked closely at iTunes itself though. If you do, you may be surprised to discover some less obvious features.
Choose information columns
Click on your Music Library or a Playlist. You should see columns listing the track Name, Artist, Album etc. If you’d like more information, go to the View menu and choose View Options… (or press Command J).
A window appears that shows the name of the selected Playlist. It lists dozens of items to display or hide. Check those you wish to see for this playlist and uncheck those you would like to hide. Click OK when finished. Each Playlist has its own set of View Options.
Screenshot 1: The View Options window lets you customise what information you see.
Double click the name of a playlist to open it into its own window.
Rearrange and sort columns
The Track number and Name are fixed as the first two columns, but you can rearrange the others by dragging the column name to the right or left. Sort any column by clicking on the column name; click a second time to reverse the sort order. Each Playlist retains its own display settings, so you can sort a Recently Played list by descending date order and a Top Rated list by the number of stars, if you like.
Get and set info
Select one track and choose Get Info from the File menu. There are several tabs in the Get Info window. The Summary tab cannot be edited, but the others are fair game. Try adding song lyrics into the Lyrics tab; enter Comments or other details in the Info tab.
Is one track too quiet or too loud, or does it have annoying excess sound at the beginning or end (such as applause)? Use the controls in the Options tab to fine tune how it is played.
Here you can also set equaliser options. Screenshot 2 shows that I’ve trimmed excess ‘chat’ and applause from one track by setting the start and stop times. This doesn’t edit the audio file itself, it just affects how it’s played back.
Screenshot 2: Use the Options to set playback volume, equaliser settings and more.
If you select multiple tracks you can use the Get Info (Multiple Item Information) window to edit attributes they have in common. Screenshot 3 shows I’ve added a comment to half a dozen tracks at once.
Screenshot 3: Use the Multiple Item Information window to add information shared by more than one track.
Lyrics and cover art are both transferred to your iPod (if it can handle them), as are start and stop time settings.
Currently playing track
You may find that you’ve been roaming around iTunes while listening to music, but now you want to find the currently playing track. Press Command L (File menu: Show Current Song) to show both the track and the playlist you’re currently listening to.
At the bottom of the iTunes window is a grey status bar. Select a playlist (or your entire Music Library) and it displays the total number of tracks, the total duration and the total file size. For example, my Music Library reads:
1504 songs, 6:07:16:25 total time, 8.96 GB.
Click once on the status bar to see the total time expressed in a more readable days or hours format. After clicking, mine reads:
1504 songs, 6.2 days, 8.96 GB.
It’s good to know I could be stranded on a desert island for 6 days and never hear the same track twice. I wonder if my iPod battery would last that long….
This article was first published in Macguide magazine Issue #32 March / April 2007 and may have been modified from the original.