Chapter 5. The iPod Connection

Chapter 5. The iPod Connection

iTunes is a lot of things to a lot of people. But for millions of people, iTunes is primarily the loading dock for an iPod. Once connected to the Mac, the iPod is ready to accept whatever you want to give it.

This chapter is dedicated to that concept of iPod as Satellite to Your Computer. All you need is the FireWire or USB 2.0 cable for the connection that gets songs and files off the mother ship and onto the ultraportable, ready-to-go iPod. And if you have an iPod Shuffle model, you don't even need the cable; the player itself plugs right into the USB port.

5.1. Your Very First Sync

Connecting an iPod or iPod Mini is simple: Just plug its FireWire cable (or its dock) to the FireWire jack on your Mac. iTunes opens automatically and begins copying your entire music library to the player (see Figure 5-1). If you have Mac OS X 10.3.4 or later and a recent iPod model (or iPod Mini), you can use a USB 2.0 cable instead.

If you have a light 'n' sporty iPod Shuffle, on the other hand, odds are you can't fit your entire iTunes library onto the smaller player, which comes in much smaller capacities than the bigger iPods. If you don't want to manually add the music yourself, you can click the handy Autofill button that appears at the bottom of the iTunes window when your Shuffle is plugged in, as shown in Figure 5-2. Autofill does what it says, and randomly fills up your Shuffle with songs.

Tip: If you don't want iTunes to appear automatically every time the iPod is connected, you can turn off this option in the iPod Preferences dialog box (Figure 5-3).

5.2. Variations on the Auto-Transfer Theme

The beauty of the iTunes/iPod system is that whatever music you add to your Mac gets added to the iPod automatically, effortlessly. You've always got your entire music collection with you. Just plugging in the iPod inspires iTunes to open up and sync.

It's conceivable, however, that you won't always want complete and automatic syncing to take place whenever you connect the 'Pod. Maybe you use the iPod primarily as an external hard drive, so you don't especially care to have iTunes jumping up like a West Highland terrier every time you plug in the iPod. Maybe you want to synchronize only some of your music, not all of it. Or maybe you have an iPod Shuffle.

Figure 5-1. The Source list (left side) displays an icon for the iPod when it's connected, as well as your music library, list of playlists, songs from the iTunes Music Store, podcasts, and Internet radio stations . The bottom of the window shows the amount of space left on the iPod, the number of songs, and consecutive days the iPod can play music without repeating songs.

Figure 5-2. With the Autofill function, you can have iTunes automatically fill your iPod Shuffle to the brim with tracks from your music library. In the Autofill panel at the bottom of the window, you can tell iTunes where to look for songs to snag, whether or not you want higher-rated tracks, or if you want it all to be a random adventure.

Fortunately, you're in complete control of the situation.

5.2.1. Stop Auto-Opening iTunes

If you like, you can command your jukebox software to open only when you want it to, rather than every time the iPod is plugged in.

When the iPod plugged in, click its icon in the Source list. Then click the iPod-shaped icon in the bottom right part of the iTunes window (identified in Figure 5-3). The iPod's Preferences box appears, where you can turn off the "Open iTunes when attached" checkbox.

Figure 5-3. Top: Click the identified button to call up the iPod Preferences dialog box. (The second button provides access to equalizer settings; the third controls screen displays. The Eject iPod button dismounts the iPod from the computer.)
Bottom: In the iPod Preferences box, you can choose to have the iPod update everything automatically or just certain playlists. "Manually manage songs and playlists" lets you move just the songs you want to the iPod.
The "Display album artwork on your iPod" option appears only if your iPod has a color screen.

5.2.2. Transfer Only Some Songs

The auto-sync option for iPod and iPod Minis pretty much removes any thought process required to move music to the iPod. But if you'd rather take control of the process, or you just want to transfer some songs or playlists, you can change the synchronization settings.

With the main iTunes window open, click the name of your iPod in the Source list on the left side of the window. Look at the bottom of the iPod window for the four small buttons along the right side (Figure 5-3). Click the first button, which has a small graphic of an iPod on it, to open the iPod Preferences dialog box.

Once the Options dialog box is open, click the third tab, labeled Synchronization.

The dialog box before you lets you control how the syncing of your library goes: Complete automatic synchronization

"Automatically update all songs and playlists" means that your computer's music collection and your iPod's will be kept identical, no matter what songs you add or remove from the computer.

Figure 5-4. You can add songs to the iPod playlists by dragging them out of your main Library list, delete them by clicking their names and then pressing the Delete key, drag playlists onto playlists to merge them, and so on.
Manually adding songs and playlists to the iPod Shuffle works the same way: You see what you want to add and drag it over to the iPod icon.

If you have a PalmPilot or PocketPC, you may be thinking to yourself: "Ah, sweet synchronization! I won't have to worry about losing any data, because everything is updated all the time no matter where I input them!"

There is a difference, however: Unlike a palmtop, the iPod's synchronization with the computer is a one-way street. If a song isn't in iTunes, it won't be on your iPod. Delete a song from iTunes, and it disappears from the iPod the next time you sync up.

This, of course, is the iPod's system for preventing piracy. If song copying were a two-way street, people could wander around with their iPods, collecting songs from any computers they encountered , and then copy it all to their home computers.

On the bright side, the autosync system means that you never worry about which songs are where. With the autosync option, what is in the computer's music library is on the iPod, and that's that. Sync up selected playlists only

Choosing to only sync up only certain playlists can save you some time, because you avoid copying the entire music library each time. This tactic is helpful when, say, you have a workout playlist that you fuss with and freshen up each week. You can choose to update only that playlist instead of waiting around for the whole iPod to sync. (This feature is also handy if you're a multi-iPod household. Each iPodder can maintain a separate playlist.)

Once you turn on "Automatically update selected playlists only," you're shown a list of the playlists you've created. Turn on the ones you want synced. Manually manage songs and playlists

There may be times when you don't want any automatic synchronization at all. Maybe, for example, you've deleted some audio files from your hard drive that you still want to keep on your iPod. If you leave automatic syncing turned on, iTunes will erase any songs from the iPod that it doesn't have itself.

Turning on"Manually manage songs and playlists"means that no music will be auto- copied to the iPod. You'll have to do all the copying yourself.

"Do Not Disconnect"

The universal symbol for NO!, pictured as a circle with a slash through it ( ), is a common sight when the iPod is connected to the Macintosh. It appears whenever the two drives are busy exchanging music and data (and probably a little hard-disk humor on the side). If you're using the iPod as an external hard disk, or you've turned off the iPod's automatic synchronization feature, you'll see a lot of this Dr. .

Breaking the connection while all this is going on can result in lost files and possibly a scrambled song. So if you need to unplug the iPod and get going for work, be sure to unmount it properly (remove its icon from the screen) first.

To do that, click the button in the iTunes window; by dragging the desktop icon of the iPod into the Mac's Trash; or by Control-clicking (or right-clicking) the iPod icon on your screen and choosing Eject from the shortcut menu.

When you've ejected the iPod correctly, its screen flashes a large happy check mark (older iPods) or pulls up the standard main menu, ready for action (2003 and later models).

Note: When you turn on this option, iTunes says, "Disabling automatic update requires manually unmounting the iPod before each disconnect." It's saying that from now on, when you're finished with the iPod, you'll have to click the button in the lower-right corner of the iTunes window. This action safely releases the iPod from the computer connection.

From now on, you'll have to drag songs onto the iPod manually (Figure 5-4). After you close the iPod Preferences box, click the small triangle next to your iPod in the Source list. It reveals all the songs and playlists on the iPod, which work just like any other iTunes playlists.

If you have an iPod Shuffle and you opt not to use the Autofill button, you can manually add music without having to fiddle with any iPod preferences box. Just drag tracks or playlists and drop them on the Shuffle's icon in the iTunes Source list.

To delete songs off the iPod or Shuffle, click its icon in your iTunes Source list. Then, in the main song-list window, click the songs you don't want anymore, and press Delete. The songs vanish , both from the iPod's list in iTunes and from the iPod itself.

Tip: The Only Update Checked Songs option in the iPod Preferences box (Figure 5-3) can be useful in this situation. It ensures that iTunes will update the iPod only with songs whose title checkmarks you've turned on. If you have songs that aren't part of your iTunes music library, make sure they're uncheckedand therefore unerasedduring an automatic synchronization.