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Tips and Tricks: iTunes

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It’s time to welcome back another installment of Tips and Tricks. These articles aim to teach you some handy things you might not know about your Apple (s aapl) stuff. Let’s continue the series by looking at iTunes.

Search the Store From Anywhere

If you want to find something in the iTunes Store, ordinarily you have to open up iTunes, click on the Store link in the sidebar, then enter your search term in the search field on the page that appears. But there’s a simpler way to search the store from anywhere within the iTunes application. All you have to do is type your search query into the search field that always resides at the top right corner of your iTunes window, then instead of just hitting Return, hold down Option and press Return. You’ll be taken automatically to iTunes Store results.

Filter Your Searches

While we’re on the subject of searching, did you know you can apply filters to your searches? For instance, if you’re searching your music library, you can add filters such as Artist, Composer and Album, which can really help narrow down results if you have a huge library.

To use one of these filters, click the magnifying glass inside the search bar. A list of available filters will appear, and you can choose the one you want. Once you do, the default text inside the search bar will change to reflect what you chose, for example changing from “Search Music” to “Search Artists.”

Scroll Along the Progress Bars

There are many ways to scrub through a song, such as holding the Fast Forward button down, or dragging the slider. Another way is to hover your mouse over the slider, but instead of clicking and dragging, scroll up or down using the scroll wheel (or your finger, if you have a trackpad or Magic Mouse). The effect is the same, but it can be a very sensitive depending on your input device settings, so I generally only use it for scrolling straight to the beginning or end of something. This also works with the volume control as well.

Edit the Sidebar

If there are some sources on the sidebar which you never use, there is a way to hide them. Open up iTunes’ preferences screen, either from the menu or using shortcut Command + <. On the General tab, there are a series of checkboxes. You can turn these on and off, and the corresponding items in the sidebar will hide. I use this to hide Ping, which I never use. Below the checkboxes in the General tab, there are some other options as well. Source Text changes the size of the text in the sidebar, and Show Source Icons allows you to decide whether you want the small icons to show next to the source names.

Get Album Artwork From the iTunes Store

A lot of the time, when you import a CD into iTunes, the album’s artwork will get added automatically for you. When it doesn’t, there’s a feature in iTunes that will search the iTunes store for artwork and automatically fill in the blanks. To use it, simply go to Advanced > Get Album Artwork in the menu bar.

The caveat with this is that your music has to be named correctly in order for it to work. Even extra words such as “Bonus Edition”, for example, can screw up the search, and iTunes will report back that it couldn’t find the artwork you wanted. It’s best to go through your library checking names before you use the Get Album Artwork feature.

I hope you’ve learned something new, and as always, leave your own additional tips in the comments!

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11 Responses to “Tips and Tricks: iTunes”

  1. I recently stumbled upon a neat little tool for the PC. It is called ‘iTwin’ made by a small german software company.
    Many backup features that should already be included in iTunes like view and export of contacts, text messages (sms), calendar and more. Rock stable, and boy, it saved my day cause my iPhone was stuck in recovery mode …

  2. Does anybody know what happened to the feature that consolidates three smaller tracks into one larger track? I used to do it just fine (but only if the original CD was still in the machine). Now I can’t find it (Windows) although Tech Support says she has it on hers (Mac 10). In lieu of that, does anybody know how much loss is experienced when converting to mp3 and then back to acc?

  3. mdbookworm

    Um, it may have been just a typo, but the more accurate shortcut for preferences is “command+,” not “command+<". "command+<" creates ambiguity (do I need to hit shift?) and confusion (everyone else is using "command+,").

    Good post, though. I liked the one about searching the store from anywhere. That has always bugged me!

    • LB, it may be that you have reach the 5 machine limit using your Apple iTunes account. In iTunes, log into your account. Click the arrow beside your AppleID in the upper right and select “Account”.

      Note the section “Computer Authorizations”. If it says 5 then you have reached your limit of the number of computers you can play iTunes Purchases. Clicking “Deauthorize All” will clear the entry and allow you start fresh. You should only have to enter you AppleID one more time to reauthorize the same computer and then never again until you reach the 5 computer limit again.

  4. I would like to add an easy way to find iTunes content. Just google your query followed by “”. For example, if you are looking for Angry Birds for iPhone, type “Angry Birds iPhone” (without the quotes).

    You can even configure the your Browser or Alfred (the incredibly useful Launcher for Mac) to search for iTunes content by keyword.