iLife/iTunes/The iTunes Interface
The best way to start learning a new application is to take a quick look at its interface. This sub-chapter tells you what's what in the iTunes window.
Like almost every other Mac program, iTunes has a toolbar right under its title bar. It includes some of the most important controls you'll use.
- Playback Controls - The three circular buttons on the left-hand side of the toolbar control the playback of music and video files. Directly to their right is a volume slider for adjusting the sound volume.
- Display - iTunes has a pale yellow "display" smack in the middle of the toolbar. This display can show the currently playing song, a level meter, or the status of ongoing tasks such as updating an iPod. To cycle through the availible things to display, click the small right-arrow button on the left side of the display. More information about this display
- View Controls - These three conjoined buttons let you select a view for your media. You'll learn about views later on.
- Search Field - This Spotlight search field lets you find your media fast.
iTunes has a status bar running along the bottom of its window. In the middle, iTunes puts a bit of text telling you just what you're viewing: how many files, how long it would take to listen or watch them all, and how much space they're taking up on your hard drive. Buttons appear at either end of the status bar. The ones on the left side are always there, and the ones on the right come and go depending on what you're doing. We'll tell you about the buttons here as we go.
The source list is to the left of the screen, right under the playback controls. The source list is divided into several sections that keep the various sources organized. The headings disappear if there are no sources of that type, so you might not see all of them. The following sections are organized to mimic iTunes' organization.
Every media file on your computer that iTunes knows abou shows up in the library. Depending on what type of media it is, it will show up in different sources. These include: movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, Audiobooks, iPod Games, Radio, and Party Shuffle. You can use the iTunes Preferences (under the "General" tab) to hide sources you aren't using. The libraries for each media type have all of that type of file in them.
The icons in this section are all green for easy identification. The first icon is a link to the iTunes Store, just like it says. The second icon is a playlist of all the files purchased from the iTunes Store, though it can be rearranged just like any other playlist. The third icon is the download menu, which appears only if your computer is downloading a file from the iTunes Store. It can be used to stop, restart, and organize downloads.
This section holds the controls for all of the devices currently hooked up to your computer that iTunes recognizes. This includes iPods, and also Apple TV and iPhone, two upcoming Apple products. Each device can be managed individually.
Your computer can connect to other computers connect to yours on a wired or wireless network and listen to music from their library. This music is streamed from their hard drive to yours. It is not permanently stored on your computer. Each shared library appears as a different icon.
While most of the other sources are generated automatically, Playlists are customizable lists of media that will play sequentially. You can have as many or as few Playlists as you like; iTunes gives you a starter set. You can even put different Playlists into folder trees (folders can be created in the File menu), and these folders transfer to iPods they are synced to.
Smart Playlists are special Playlists that you cannot edit directly. They are similar to the Finder's Smart Folders, in both function and icon. They contain all songs that meet one (or all) of criterion set by you. Smart Playlists can also be based on albums, genre, ratings, play count, or utter randomness.