4.3. Searching and Shopping
You don't have to log in to browse the storeonly when you want to buy music or audiobooks. And music is everywhere you turn in the iTunes Music Store. Click any album cover or text link to zoom right to it. The upper left corner area of the Music Store home page offers a pop-up menu to jump straight to the Genres you want.
You can also use the Power Search tool, shown at top in Figure 4-3, to zero in on a specific song, artist, album, genre , or composeror just peruse the text-based lists, as shown in Figure 4-3 at bottom.
When you find a performer you're interested in, click the name to see a list of songs or albums on hand for purchase. If you click an album name , all of the songs available from it appear below in the Details window. Double-click a track to hear a 30-second snippet of it to see how it suits you, or to make sure that's really the song you were thinking of, before buying it.
You navigate the iTunes Music Store aisles just like a Web browser. Most song and artist names are hyperlinkedthat is, you can click their names , or album cover images, to see what tracks are included.
Click the Back button in the Store window to go back to the page you were just on, or click the button with the small house on it to return to the Music Store home page.
Tip: When browsing the store, you may see a small, gray, circular icon bearing a white arrow in some columns of the Details window. That's the "More Info this way!" button. Click it to jump to a page bearing details about the subject, like a discography page next to a singer 's name in the Artist column, or to the main page of artists for the genre listed.
The main iTunes Music Store page also displays links to new releases, exclusive songs that can be purchased only from the Music Store, Apple staff favorites, songs scheduled to become available in the near future, sneak peeks at unreleased tunes, and the Billboard Top 100 charts going back to 1946.
4.3.1. Adjusting the Columns
Just as you can modify the look and information displayed for your own music library in iTunes, you can customize your columns in the iTunes Music Store. See Figure 4-4 for an example of how to modify which columns of detail information to display.
Remember, too, that you can drag column headings (like Time, Artist, or Price) horizontally to rearrange them, or drag the divider lines between them to adjust the column widths.
4.3.2. Buying a Song or Album
Making a purchase is as easy as clicking the Buy Song button next to a song (Figure 4-5).
The songs for sale in the iTunes Music Store cost 99 cents each. Most albums cost $10 to $14, which is quite a bit cheaper than the $17 or so you'd pay to buy the same album on CD. Plus, you don't have to worry about finding a parking space at the mall.
Tip: Many musicians in the Featured Artists area also have a free video that you can watch right in iTunes. Depending on your connection speed, it may take a few minutes for the video to download. Unfortunately, iTunes stops playing other songs, so that it can concentrate on snagging the clip. You're forced to download in silence.The solution: Double-click it in the Source list to open it in a separate window. Now the iTunes tunes can keep spinning away in the background, giving you something to listen to as the video download proceeds.
Once you click that Buy Song button, the iTunes Music Store comes to your service. Now you see an "Are you sure?" alert box. Click the glowing Buy button to confirm your purchase decision, or Cancel if you suddenly remember that your credit card is a bit close to the edge this month. (You can also turn on "Don't warn me about buying songs" if you feel that there's quite enough nagging in your life already.)
Tip: Don't see a song or album in the iTunes Music Store that you really want to buy? Click the Requests & Feedback link on the Music Store's home page and send your plea to Apple. There's no guarantee they'll add it, but it can't hurt to make your wishes known.
4.3.3. Publishing Your Own Playlists (iMixes)
An iMix is a playlist that you publish on the Music Store, so everyone on earth can see your masterwork. You can name it, write your own liner notes explaining your mixing inspiration, and put it out there for everyone to see (Figure 4-6).
Start by signing into your Music Store account. Then, in the iTunes Source list, select the playlist you want to publish. (If it contains any songs that Apple doesn't sell, they'll get knocked off the listwhich may ruin your carefully constructed mix.)
When you click the playlist, a gray arrow appears next to its title. Click the arrow to begin the publishing process (or choose File Publish Playlist to Music Store). In the warning box, click Publish (and turn on "Do not show this message again if you're sick of naggy little alerts in your face).
On the next screen, name your iMix and add your thoughts on making it.
Finally, in the iMix window, click Publish. Now other people can see your playlist, rate it, be inspired by it, orand let's face it, here's the main thingbuy the songs for themselves .
To tell all your pals about your brand new iMix, click the Tell a Friend button on your new iMix page. iTunes sends a virtual birth announcement by email, complete with album-cover art.
Tip: Want to e-mail a friend a direct link to your brand new iMix, or anybody else's? Control-click the playlist's icon on the iMix page and, from the shortcut menu, choose "Copy iTunes Music Store URL." Next, create a new message in your e-mail program and paste in the link you just copied .
Apple will send you an e-mail message congratulating you on your successful iMixing along with a link for your iMix. The Store keeps iMixes on its site for a year.
4.3.4. Gift Certificates
Gift certificates make perfect presents for People Who Have Everything, especially when purchased by People Who Are Lousy Shoppers. These redeemable email coupons are also an excellent way to save face in potentially unpleasant situations (" Honey, you may think I forgot our anniversary again, but check your email!" ).
With iTunes Music Store gift certificates, available both from the iTunes store or from Apple's Web site, you can send your friends and family $10 to $200 worth of credit to go hog-wild in Apple's music emporium.
To buy one, click Gift Certificates on the main page of the iTunes Music Store. After you choose delivery by either email or U.S. Mail, the process is like buying anything on the Web: You fill in your address, gift amount, personalized message, and so on.
If you already have an Apple ID, you can log in and request to have your credit card billed; if not, sign up for one. Once you complete all the pixel paperwork, your gift certificate will be on its way.
Tip: Before sending off a gift certificate, discreetly check whether your recipient's computer meets the iTunes 4 requirements. People on Windows 98, Windows Me, and older operating systems may be in for an even bigger pang of disappointment than if you gave them a box of cheap tube socks.
Whether they come in the mailbox by the front door or the one on the computer, iTunes Music Store gift certificates are meant to be spent. Here's how they work:
If you already have an iTunes Music Store account, log in and start shopping. If you've never set your mouse pointer inside the store before, you'll need to create an Apple Account. You have to provide your name and address, but you don't have to surrender a credit card number. If you choose None, you can use your gift certificate as the sole payment methodand end your shopping experience once you've burned through it.
4.3.5. iTunes Allowance Accounts
Allowance accounts are a lot like iTunes store gift certificates. You, the parent (or other financial authority), decide how many dollars' worth of music or audiobooks you want to give to a family member or friend (from $10 to $200, in increments of $10). Unlike gift certificates, however, allowance accounts automatically replenish themselves on the first day of each monthan excellent way to keep your music-loving kids out of your wallet while teaching the little nippers how to budget their money throughout the month.
Both you and the recipient need to have Apple IDs. To set up a monthly allowance, click the Allowance link on the main page of the iTunes Music Store and fill out the form on the next screen. After you select the amount of credit you want to deposit each month, fill in your recipient's Apple ID and password. (There's also an option to create a new account for the monthly allowance.)
Once the giftee logs into the designated Apple Account, the spending can beginno credit card required. Once the allowance amount has been spent, that's it for music until the following month. (Of course, if the recipient does have a credit card on file, he can always put the difference on the card.) If you need to cancel an allowance account, go to your Account Info page (Section 220.127.116.11) to take care of the matter.
Tip: Can't remember how much money you have left on your gift certificate or in your allowance account? Look at your iTunes window the next time you're logged into the store. Your balance appears right next to your account name.
4.3.6. The Interrupted Download
If your computer crashes or you get knocked offline while you're downloading your song purchases, iTunes is designed to pick up where it left off after you restart the program and reconnect to the Internet. If for some reason it doesn't go back to downloading, choose Advanced Check for Purchased Music to log back into the Music Store to resume your downloading business.
4.3.7. Signing Out
If other people have access to your computer when you're not around, consider wrapping up your shopping session by clicking your name (next to the Account button on the Music Store window) and then Sign Out. Unless you're one of those exceedingly benevolent types, you probably don't want anyone else to come along and charge up your credit card with a music-buying marathon.
4.3.8. Locating Your New Tracks
You can find your new tracks by clicking Purchased Music in the iTunes Source list (Figure 4-8). As the dialog box says, you can work with the Purchased Music playlist as though it were any other playlist. That is, even if you delete a track from it, the song itself still remains in the iTunes music library. And behind the scenes, the corresponding music file stays in your Home Music iTunes iTunes Music folder.