Part One: iTunes
Chapter 1. Getting Music Into iTunes
As the MP3 music craze of the late 1990s swept across the globe, software programs for playing the new music files on the computer began to pop up around the Internet. If you're old enough, you may even remember using Mac programs like SoundApp, SoundJam MP, and MacAmp.
When iTunes debuted in January 2001, Apple reported that 275,000 people downloaded it in the first week. The iTunes software proved to be a versatile, robust all-around music management program made exclusively for Macintosh. And it was free .
Even in that first version of iTunes, you could import songs from a CD and convert them into MP3 files; play MP3s, audio CDs, and streaming Internet radio; create custom playlists; burn audio CDs without having to spring for extra CD burning software; zone out to groovy animated laser-light displays in the iTunes window while songs played ; and transfer music to a few pre-iPod, Mac-friendly portable MP3 players.
Today, iTunes is much more. In fact, it's the hub of the digital hub; it's the only iLife program that communicates directly with all four of the other iLife programs. Among many other feats, it lets you download perfectly legal music files from well-known artists using the Music Store feature and zip them over to your iPod in no time, all from within iTunes and without buying a single CD.
The version that came with your copy of iLife '05 is probably outdated at this point; Apple releases another version of iTunes every few months. But unlike the other iLife programs, iTunes is free. Each time Apple unleashes a new version, you'll be notified by Mac OS X's Software Update feature, which pops up on the screen and offers to update your copy via the Internet. Accept its invitation without fail.
1.1. A Quick Tour
This chapter is all about filling your copy of iTunes with music. Chapter 2 is all about playing that music (but here's the gist of it: Double-click a song to hear it).
Before you go about stocking up on tunes, though, it's worth taking a moment to get your bearings. The round-ended display at the center top of the iTunes windowthe status areatells you what song is playing, who's playing it, which album it came from, and how much playing time remains. To the left are volume and song navigation controls; to the right is a search box for hunting down or looking up specific singers or songs. Figure 1-1 presents a guided tour of the controls and functions on the iTunes screen.
The Source panel at the left of the iTunes window displays all of the audio sources you can tap into at the moment. If you have a CD in the computer's drive, for example, it shows up in the Source list, as does your iPod when it's connected.
Clicking a name in the Source column makes the main song-list area change accordingly , like this:
As shown in Figure 1-1, the iTunes window is brimming with tools for managing your music, all of which are described in detail in the following chapters. But first you'll need some music to work with. The next section explores one of the most popular uses for iTunesripping digital audio files from compact discs.
1.1.1. Window Fun
Don't be misled by the brushed-aluminum look of the iTunes window. In fact, you can push and pull the various parts of the window like taffy.
Tip: Want to track your own listening habits? Turn on the Play Count in iTunes Options. Now you can see just how many times you have played "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5 since you ripped that CD of old Motown gems to your hard drive. Checking out the Top 25 Most Played playlist in the Source window can also let you know where your ears have been lately.
If you intend to make a lot of adjustments to your list of columns, though, it's much faster to make the changes all at once. Choose Edit View Options to produce the dialog box shown in Figure 1-2, where you can turn columns on and off en masse.
220.127.116.11. Minimizing the window
Lovely as the iTunes window may be, it can take up a heck of a lot of screen real estate. When you're just playing music while you work on other things, you can shrink iTunes down to a svelte display panel that takes up a fraction of the size of the full window.
In fact, iTunes can run in three size modes: small, medium, or large (Figure 1-3). Here's how you pull this off: