Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fun with iTunes

Obviously iTunes is not a secret piece of software - it's the most popular way of buying music on the internet.

One of the biggest myths I seem to STILL come across with iTunes is you need an iPod to use it. You don't. iTunes is free and will manage your music, burn it to CD, and it is the best pod-cast manager out there. Video and enhanced podcasts keep itunes open on my system pretty much all the time.

But here's a couple of points about iTunes that you may or may not be aware of:
  1. iTunes is a great way to back up your music to disc. Especially to a DVD. You make a playlist for your library, excluding anything you don't want backed up (like podcasts), go to Edit/Preferences/Advanced / Burning - and change the disc format to Data Cd or DVD. Then highlight your playlist and hit the Burn Disc icon in the top right corner. It will calculate how many discs you will need, and step you through burning them one by one. You'll probably want a DVD burner for this if you have a large collection! You should have one anyways- they are so affordable these days, and great for backup.

    UPDATE SEPTEMBER 13 2006 > The new version of iTunes now supports backup without having to make a playlist. Just go to FILE / BACK UP TO DISC. It will let you back up either (a) everything (b) just purchased music from itunes store or (c) just music you haven't backed up yet. Of course, if there is some music you don't care if it's backed up, or you still want more control, then use the playlist method!

  2. You can make a couple of smart playlists to play all of your latest downloaded podcasts in a row. It's like your own radio station with none of the annoying fishing through menus to play the next podcast. Go to File / New Smart Playlist and try these settings.... (click to see bigger)

    You can tweak these settings to make yourself a Video list too, so like your own TV channel, it plays all your video podcasts in a row. This is especially good if you have an iPod with a small storage size- since the actual podcast sync options aren't the most flexible, you can just sync this playlist instead, along with perhaps just the latest podcast from each category. This smart playlist is always what i listen to by default as it's always new - oh you'll also want to sort that list by "date added" so the newest stuff is always on top. (click the graphic at the top of this post to see the what the playlist looks like)


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