iLife/iTunes/Getting Music In

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Before you can organize and listen to your digital music, you'll need to get it into your iTunes library. The steps you must follow vary depending on where your music is currently stored.

From Music CDs[edit]

If you're like most people, you've already accumulated a large collection of music on CDs. It would be a real shame if a new way to store music came along, rendering your CDs useless. The next way to store music has arrived...but keep your CDs! iTunes lets you take existing CD collection and copy the songs right to your computer with the push of a button. Follow the two steps below and you'll be up-to-date in no time.

Step 1: Setting Up[edit]

Before you "import" (copy) your collection into your Mac, you should take a moment to set up. Choose iTunes > Preferences, click the "Advanced" tab (labeled with a gear), and then choose the "Importing" tab underneath.

Picking an Encoder[edit]

First of all, you must choose which encoder iTunes should use when importing a CD. An encoder is a set of instructions the computer uses to make a certain type of file out of a song on a CD. We recommend that you use the AAC encoder, which generates a kind of music file called... an AAC file! These files take up very little hard drive space, but have impressive sound quality. You may also prefer the more popular but less high-tech MP3 encoder, which generates MP3 files. MP3 files take up more room than similar AAC files, but you'll find that more programs support them.

Info Symbol NOTE: You may think of an iPod as an "MP3 Player"... but it can also play all of the other file types listed here.

Picking a Quality Setting[edit]

Next you must set the quality you wish to use to import your music. The AIFF, Apple Lossless, and WAV encoders do not let you choose a quality setting, but the MP3 and AAC encoders discussed above do. It is strongly reccomended that you keep quality at or above the "High Quality" setting. Below this, flaws in the sound quality become apparent even without close inspection.

The "Custom" option is for audiophiles only, and lets you mess with variable bit rate settings, frequency filtering, etc.

Step 2: Importing the Music[edit]

Purple Hat TRICK: If you're about to go on an importing binge (where you will import all songs on every CD you put in your Mac's drive), there's a setting in Importing Preferences that will come in handy. It lets you choose what iTunes does when you put in a CD. The one you want to pick is "Import and Eject". Now you don't have to worry about any of the instructions in the section below; simply insert a disc, and iTunes will import it and spit it right out!

Now that you have your encoder set up to your liking, it's time to do the actual importing. Insert a CD, and it will appear in the "Devices" section of the source list. Select it, and you should see a list of songs. If you see generic "Track 1, Track 2..." names, read the warning above.

You can preview any song simply by double-clicking its title. Check the little boxes next to the songs you wish to import, and make sure the songs you don't want to import aren't checked. Now press the button labeled "import" in the lower-righthand corner and iTunes will go through and copy the songs to your computer. This might take a few minutes.

When all the songs you picked are done importing, your CD has been successfully imported! The songs are now in your library. Please refer to the next chapter to find out what to do next!

From your Hard Drive[edit]

If you already have digital music files lying around your hard drive, you can add them to iTunes very easily. Simply select "Music" in the Library section of the Source List. Then drag and drop files into the contents pane. Done! The file is now in your library. Note that you will have to enter the information for the file manually, because the Gracenote CD Database, as the name implies, works only for CDs.