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So Why Write a Book About iTunes?

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Apple Computer's iTunes software is a powerful yet elegant solution for managing a digital audio library. It allows users to gather music and other audio from a wide range of sources, provides them with the tools to organize libraries of tens—or tens of thousands—of songs, encourages mobility through tight integration with Apple's iPod music player, and helps the user bridge the gap between a computer and a home theater or stereo system through the Airport Express wireless base station.

Like all software that is feature-rich, it might be reasonably feared that learning how to use iTunes will be a long and complicated process. Fortunately iTunes is designed to interact with the user in a very intuitive way. Millions of iPod users get their first introduction to iTunes when they plug in a new iPod and their computer launches iTunes automatically. Whether you have an iPod or not, it is important to think about iTunes as a tool for working with audio files and not so much as an intimidating application with a long learning curve. You will also have this book as a guide which we hope will help immensely.

The iTunes interface also embodies the core design principles used in software development for Mac OS X. So if you are new to OS X or want to get a better handle on how to interact with Macs, then iTunes is a great place to start. Elements of its design are applied in Apple's iPhoto as well as dozens of third party applications. Many of the basic ideas and actions introduced in this book will be applicable in most well-designed programs for the Mac.

What's This Book About?

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Now let's talk about this book. We will do our best to make sure that we describe all the concepts that we introduce in this book in plain language and will take time to explain in more detail the most critical ones. The authors of this book assume that the reader has a basic understanding of how to interact with a computer.

With that in mind, let's take a quick tour of this book.

  1. First, we need to make sure that iTunes is installed on your computer. We will review the basic steps of getting the iTunes software from Apple. Once we have the software, we will get it up and running on your computer.
  2. After iTunes is running, we will review what you see on the screen. We will give names to all parts of the interface and add details for the most important ones.
  3. iTunes really isn't a whole lot of fun without some music so the next section will be entirely devoted to acquiring music and other audio content. We will hit on such topics as Pod-Casting, Apple's Music Store, ripping CDs, internet radio, and a host of other ways to get interesting content into iTunes.
  4. Playing music in iTunes is relatively simple once you actually have music in it. There is a large round button provided for that purpose. This section will go beyond the play button and explore ways to tweak your iTunes experience. We will also touch on the broad variety of headphones and speakers available, as well as the Airport Express.
  5. One of iTune's primary strengths is its ability to deal with a truly enormous amount of music just as easily as a handful of songs. For this section we will discuss ways to keep track of your music, whether you need to catalog 50 or 50,000 songs. Topics covered will include playlists, searching, browsing, sorting, and storing music in multiple locations.
  6. By itself iTunes is an awesome product, but coupled with the iPod it reaches a different level entirely. We will apply many of the concepts we introduced in the section on organization to the iPod as well as point out many often overlooked features in iTunes for extending your iPod experience.
  7. Last but not least we will approach some advanced topics that don't fit particularly well in other parts of the book. In general, these are the sorts of things that you probably won't ever have to do but will be extraordinarily glad to know if you need to.

Then we are done. Good luck and have fun!