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Organize Your Music

After you have moved all the music from your computer into iTunes, you need to be able to find it. iTunes is split into three sections: The left pane contains the Library and Playlist tools, the center lists the tracks, and the top controls the playback and offers search and browse tools.

The most obvious way to organize your music is through default sorting options. Along the top of the main window, you will see that you can sort music by song name, rating (you can select your own rating of one to five stars, with 5 being the best rating), artist, or album. You can use additional sorting categories as well, including beats per minutes, bit rate, comment, composer, date added, date modified, disc number, equalizer, genre, grouping, kind, last played, play count, sample, time, track number, and year. These categories are hard to find on other MP3 tools. You can sort by any of these by adding them to the headings in the interface—just right-click.

Sorting your music is only the start of it, though. iTunes also provides you with powerful search and browse features. You can search your entire library or the current playlist. By default, the search tool looks for matches on any part of the song. However, you can also restrict your search to artists, albums, composers, or songs. The results show up in the track list window. Browsing allows you to browse categories such as genre, artist, and album.

In the left pane are the Playlist tools. With iTunes 4.5, the playlists have evolved to include the following: Library, Party Shuffle, Radio, Music Store, Purchase Music, IPOD, Smart Playlist, and Playlist. The Library playlist lists all the music on your computer. Unlike MusicMatch or Windows Media Player, the Library list is very fast. In fact, I have given up using MusicMatch to view all of my music files because my list of more than 5,000 songs takes nearly 3 minutes to compile. That's just too long for me; I need something fast and snappy.

Party Shuffle is a new feature to iTunes 4.5 that allows you to pick either a playlist or a library and see the next 25 songs that will be played. In a lot of ways, it is like having a DJ playlist from the radio right on your hard drive.

If you a fan of the many hundreds of Internet radio stations but find it hard to keep track of who is playing on where and from which URL, look no further than the Radio selection. You can choose from hundreds of stations: anything from hard core to the beatific sounds of Enya—or check out something different, like Japan-A-Radio.

The Music Store is what sold me on iTunes, and it may be what sells you, too. Lots of companies are telling you that you can buy music with their software (the legal kind, not the bootleg copies found on Limewire or Kazaa), and I have tried them all. The only problem is the massive amount of problems they cause. You might buy a song on MusicMatch and then be unable to find the song, or you might download the song with the new Napster and then be told you can burn the song only three times. Come on! With the iTunes store, you can download music to your computer and share it with your iPod. In fact, you can share the music on up to three computers and seven iPods. This is the killer: You can burn the track any number of times you like to a CD. You will find it effortless to buy and download the music, and your iTunes will automatically sync up with your iPod, something the recent Windows Media Player 9 has just started supporting.

NOTE

The Purchased Music playlist makes it easy to find music you have purchased. No doubt you own what you have in this folder—and it is all legal, which has got to make you feel good.

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