Moving Music to the iPod

The conduit for moving music to the iPod is iTuneswhich, fortunately, is fairly flexible in the way it goes about the process. The key to determining how you move your tunes is the iPod Preferences dialog box.

With the advent of iTunes 4.7, there are two ways to access iTunes' iPod Preferences window. To start, plug your iPod into your computer and launch iTunes. (By default, iTunes launches on its own when you connect the iPod.) The iPod will appear in iTunes Source list.

In earlier versions of iTunes, you clicked on the iPod in the Source list to view a new icon that appeared next to the EQ icon in the bottom-right corner of the iTunes window. Clicking this iPod icon opened the iPod Preferences dialog box.

This option remains in iTunes 4.7. However, you can also reach this dialog box by opening iTunes' Preferences window and clicking the iPod tab. Doing so produces the dialog box you desire. Using this latter method offers the singular advantage of not requiring you to first select the iPod in the Source list.

Aside from iPod preferences being incorporated into the iTunes Preferences window, there are some other differences. The major difference is the Photos tab that appears when you plug an iPod Photo into your computer.

The other differences are cosmetic. Where earlier iPod preferences dialog boxes placed all options in a single dialog box, the new preferences splits options into two or three tabs. If you've connected any iPod save the iPod Photo, the dialog box contains a Music and General tab.

When an iPod Photo enters the picture, that third Photos tab appears.

The Music Tab

Here are the settings you'll find within iTunes 4.7's Music tab (and within the single Preferences dialog box in earlier versions of iTunes).

Automatically Update All Songs and Playlists

When you choose this option, iTunes updates the iPod to include all the music in the iTunes Library. Any songs currently on the iPod that aren't in the iTunes Library are erased from the iPod.

Although everyone will be pleased that iTunes automatically adds songs from the iTunes Library, not everyone may be tickled by the notion that it also erases songs. If you've removed songs from iTunes' Library and want them to remain on your iPod after the update, this option is not for you. This option is on by default.

Automatically Update Selected Playlists Only

This option updates only the playlists you've selected. Any songs stored on your iPod that don't belong to the selected playlists are erased when you select this option.

This option is a good one to use when several members of your family are sharing an iPod. Mom can pack a playlist with hits from the '60s, and when it's her day with the iPod, she can update only her playlist andto make room for her tuneserase Little Johnny's Speed Metal selections.

When Dad can wrestle the iPod away from Mom, he can lose the '60s and update the iPod with his be-bop collection.

It's also a good option for those with large music collections who carry an iPod mini. Because the mini holds "only" 1,000 songs, it's possible that you'll fit just a portion of your music collection on it.

This option could make it much easier to manage your music by allowing you to chunk up your collection into multiple playlists and then rotate those playlists in and out of your mini by selecting playlists 1, 2, and 3 one month, and 4, 5, and 6 the next.

Again, this optionisn't a good idea when you don't want items to be removed from your iPod.

Manually Manage Songs and Playlists

Ah, finallythe option to use when you want to add songs to your iPod without removing any tunes from the device. When you select this option, all the playlists on your iPod appear below the iPod's icon in iTunes' Source list.

To add songs to the iPod, just select them in the Library or one of iTunes' playlists, and drag them to one of the iPod's playlists. Those songs appear at the top of the playlist. To move a song's position, click the top of the Number column, and drag the song to where you'd like it to appear in the list.

Optionally, you can add songs by genre, artist, or album by using iTunes' browser. To do so, follow these steps:

1. Choose Show Browser from iTunes' Edit menu. A pane divided into Genre, Artist, and Album columns appears at the top of iTunes' main window.

2. Click an entry in one of the columns. If you want to copy all the Kate Bush songs in your Library to the iPod, for example, click Ms. Bush's name in the Artists column. To copy all the reggae tunes to the iPod, select Reggae in the Genre column.

3. Drag the selected item to the iPod's icon in the Source list or to a playlist you've created on the iPod.

To remove songs from the iPod, select the songs you want to remove within the iPod entry in the Source list; then press your keyboard's Delete key (or Control-click on the Mac or right-click for Windows, and choose Clear from the contextual menu).

Mac users can also drag the songs to the Trash on the Desktop (or, in the case of OS X, to the Trash in the Dock). You'll be asked to confirm that you really want to delete the songs. (You can disable this warning by clicking the Don't Ask Me Again check box in the warning dialog box.)

You can even copy entire playlists to other playlists by dragging one playlist icon on top of another. This method works for both iTunes and iPod playlists.

The iPod will also tell you when it's ready to be unmounted. When the iPod is mounted on your computer or busy accepting data from an application, the display flashes the international symbol for "Back off, Jack!" (the circle with a line through it), along with a "Do not disconnect" message.

When you unmount it properly, the iPod displays a large checkmark and the message "OK to disconnect."

One more unexpected pleasure offered by the manual-update option is the ability to play songs on your iPod through the attached computer's speakers or via Apple's AirPort Express.

With manual update switched on, just select a song in your iPod, and press the computer keyboard's spacebar. The song streams off the iPod; through iTunes; and out your computer's speakers or headphones port, or to your AirPort Express and the stereo connected to it.

To control the volume, you must use iTunes' volume control; the iPod's controls won't work in this mode.

Only Update Checked Songs

As its name hints, this option tells iTunes to update those songs that are checked in iTunes' Library. This option can act as a safety measure, ensuring that any songs that are no longer available to iTunes aren't erased from your iPod during an automatic update.

The General Tab

The General tab contains two non-musical options that effect how an iPod and iTunes interact when the iPod is plugged into your computer.

Open iTunes When This iPod Is Attached

On by default, this option fires up iTunes when you plug your iPod into your computer's FireWire or USB 2.0 port. This option is reasonably convenient unless you're using your iPod strictly as an external hard drive. Because I do use my iPod for exactly this purpose, I keep this option switched off.

Enable Disk Use

This option allows your iPod to appear on the Mac's Desktop or within the PC's My Computer window, where you can use it just like any other hard drive. To copy files to the iPod, drag them to the iPod icon. Likewise, you can move files from the iPod by double-clicking the iPod to open it and then dragging the files from the iPod to your computer.

When you choose the "manually manage" option, your iPod is configured as an external drive automatically, and this option is selected but grayed out. If you select one of the automatic options, you must enable this option for the iPod to appear on the Mac's Desktop or within Windows' My Computer directory.

Switching on this option is also necessary if you want to rummage around in an iPod Photo's Full Resolution folder after you've opted to copy full-resolution photos from your computer to the iPod.