Using iTunes 2 with Mac OS

Late last year Apple updated its popular iTunes jukebox software to version 2 and made the update available as a free download from www.apple.com.au. New features in iTunes 2 include a 10 band equaliser, MP3 burning capability, built-in crossfading between tracks, increased burn times and support for external CD-RW drives. iTunes 2 also features the ability to automatically synchronise quickly and easily with Apple's 5GB personal MP3 player - the iPod - thanks to the latter's FireWire interface.

CREATING A PLAYLIST

After starting iTunes 2, the first thing you might like to try is creating your own playlist. You can do this by selecting File-New Playlist or by using -N. In the left window of iTunes 2, titled Source (FIGURE 1), enter the name of your playlist - I called mine Spoken Word, as that described the contents of my playlist. You can delete a playlist at any time by selecting it and pressing . To add MP3s to your list, simply select your playlist and then select a group of MP3 files, then drag them into the right playlist window of iTunes 2.

Unless you specify otherwise, iTunes 2 should then advise you that a link to the MP3 files will be included in your playlist, but the files themselves will not be moved or copied. If you move the files to a different location, iTunes 2 won't be able to find them, and therefore won't be able to play them, either. If you want to copy the files to your Mac's hard drive, your best bet is to put them into the iTunes Music folder located inside the Documents folder that you can reach by clicking the home icon from a Finder window.

Now that your MP3 files are in your playlist, going to View-Options (-J) will allow you to select more information to be displayed in the playlist about each file. For example, I selected to also display file size and bit-rate. At the bottom centre of iTunes you are given indicators of your playlist's total number of tracks, playing time and total size. You can arrange the playing order of your playlist by simply dragging and dropping.

PLAYBACK FEATURES AND INTERNET RADIO

To play a track, double-click on its name in the playlist. Playback and volume controls are found in the top left of iTunes 2, and the track's elapsed time and quick seek bar are at the top centre of the program. The search field in the top right of iTunes 2 allows you to hunt through your playlist quickly and easily by simply typing in the name of an artist or track. You don't even need to press , as each letter you type will further narrow what you're looking for.

In addition to your customised playlists, the left-hand Source window is where you access Audio CDs, the iTunes 2 Library and the Internet Radio Tuner.

By clicking on Library you can view a list of all the tracks that your individual playlists use. Clicking on the Browse button in the top right of iTunes 2 will allow you browse through artists and albums, or to search for tracks. You can combine existing playlists into new playlists by clicking on a track name from the Library and dragging it into a new playlist.

The Radio Tuner is just as easy to use. Make sure you're connected to the Internet, click on Radio Tuner, select a music genre and 'station' from the list, and you're set.

If you want to equalise the sound, the left-most icon at the bottom right of iTunes 2 (or -2) will bring up the equaliser - just make sure 'On' is ticked. Immediately to the right of the equaliser icon is the visualisation icon; click this or use -T to begin graphical visualisations to accompany your music.

RIPPING AND BURNING

As mentioned, when you place an audio CD in your Mac, the audio CD option will appear in the Source window. From there, you can play back a music CD just like an MP3 playlist. If you're connected to the Internet, you can get track names from the CDDB by selecting Get CD Track Names from the Advanced menu. Before you rip an audio CD to MP3, check which options you have selected from Preferences under the iTunes menu, or access Preferences with -Y. The importing tab allows you to select the bit-rate of the MP3s you create.

To import a track press OK (if you're still in Preferences), select Audio CD from the Source window and then click the Import button in the top right of iTunes 2. The MP3 files you create will be added to your Library.

Provided you have a CD burning drive that iTunes 2 can recognise, burning is fairly straightforward. The CD Burning tab in the iTunes preferences allows you to select Audio CD or MP3 CD. This done, you should only need to select the files you wish to burn and click the Burn CD icon from the top right of iTunes 2.

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