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Managing Music on Your Portable Device

Whichever type of portable device you use to listen to music on the go, you have to somehow get your music onto the device, and then manage it. While each and every device will do this a little differently, the basic concepts are the same.

In general, you manage your music library on your computer, not on your portable device. That is, you download tracks you purchase to your computer, you rip CDs to your computer, and you assign genres and create playlists on your computer.

What you do next is connect your portable device to your computer, and synchronize (“sync”) selected music files between the two devices. In essence, you copy the tracks and playlists you want from your computer to your portable device.

You can use just about any music player program to do this synchronization, but assuming you have an iPod, iPhone, or iPad, you’re probably going to be using the iTunes software for this task. And, to be fair, this synching is done pretty much automatically.

Syncing Your iPod or iPhone

You connect your i-device to your computer via the supplied cable which connect on one end to the dock connector on your portable device and on the other end to a USB port on your computer. (If you have an iPod shuffle, there’s no dock connector; instead, there’s a mini-jack connector that you use.)

When your iPod is connected to your PC, the portable device automatically enters a special sync/charge mode. Your PC should automatically recognize your device and launch the iTunes software. Within iTunes, a new Devices section appears in the Source pane, with your iPod or iPhone listed. In addition, the main window changes to display information about your iPod in a series of tabs, as shown in Figure 27.18.

FIGURE 27.18

FIGURE 27.18 Viewing information about a connected iPhone in iTunes.

The Summary tab displays the name, capacity, version information, serial number, and such for your i-device. In addition, the Version section lets you update your iPod’s firmware or restore the iPod to its factory condition (useful if you have corrupted data or some sort of operational problem).

At the bottom of the Summary tab is a visual representation of what’s currently stored on your iPod. You’ll see how much total space is available, how much space is devoted to each type of media (audio, video, photos, apps, books, and other), and how much free space is left to use.

Configuring Sync Options

Scroll down to the Options section of the Summary tab to determine how your i-device syncs to your computer. The following options are available:

  • Open iTunes when this iPod/iPhone is connected, the default operational mode.
  • Sync with this iPod/iPhone over Wi-Fi, available for devices with WiFi connectivity, lets you perform the sync operation over your wireless network, no cables needed.
  • Sync only checked songs and videos, which is useful when you’re syncing a device that has less storage capacity than you have songs stored on your PC. When this option is selected, only those tracks you’ve checked in your iTunes library are copied to your portable device. When this option is not selected, all the songs in your library are automatically transferred to your iPod or iPhone—which works well if you have a larger-capacity device (or a smaller music library).
  • Prefer standard definition videos, which keeps you from filling up your portable device with large HD video files.
  • Convert higher bit rate songs to XXX AAC, which is an easy way to load lower bitrate versions of files stored on your computer at a higher bitrate—and save storage space on your i-device.
  • Manually manage music and videos, which you can use to sync only selected tracks to your portable device.

If you have a large-capacity iPod classic and you want to transfer all the songs on your PC to the iPod, uncheck all but the first option. If you have a smaller-capacity iPod nano or iPod shuffle, or want to transfer only selected songs to your iPod, check the first and second options. If you want to manage the music already stored on your iPod, check the first and third options.

Syncing Your Music

To configure what music files are synced, you need to access the Music tab, shown in Figure 27.19. From here, you can choose to sync everything in your music library or just selected playlists, artists, albums, or genres—that is, those items checked in your iTunes library. You can also choose to include music videos in your sync, if you wish.

FIGURE 27.19

FIGURE 27.19 Selecting music sync options in iTunes.

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