Once you have iTunes, the next step is to start filling it with music and video so you can get all that goodness onto your iPhone. iTunes gives you at least five options right off the bat.
Let iTunes Find Your Existing Songs
If you’ve had a computer for longer than a few days, you probably already have some songs in the popular MP3 format on your hard drive, perhaps from a file-sharing service or a free music Web site. If so, the first time you open iTunes, it offers to search your PC or Mac for music and add it to its library. Click Yes; iTunes goes hunting around your hard drive.
Tip: If you use Windows, you may have songs in the Windows Media Audio (WMA) format. Unfortunately, iTunes and the iPhone can’t play WMA files. But when iTunes finds non-protected WMA files, it offers to convert them automatically to a format that it does understand. That’s a convenient assurance that your old music files will play on your new toy. (iTunes/iPhone can not, however, convert copy-protected WMA files like those sold by some music services.)
Visit the iTunes Store
Another way to feed your iPhone is to shop at the iTunes Store.
Click the iTunes Store icon in the list on the left side of the iTunes window. Once you land on the store’s main page and set up your iTunes account, you can buy and download songs, audiobooks, and videos. This material goes straight into your iTunes library, just a sync away from the iPhone.
After years of conflict and controversy, the record companies have finally allowed Apple to start selling songs that aren’t copy protected. Today, there’s almost nothing left in the music department of iTunes that still has copy protection. (The little + symbol next to a song’s price means “Not copy protected.”)
Your iPhone, of course, can also get to the iTunes Store, wirelessly; just tap that alluring purple iTunes icon on the Home screen. Any songs you buy on the phone get copied back to iTunes the next time you sync.
Not everything in the iTunes Store costs money, by the way. In addition to free iPhone apps, there are plenty of free audio and video podcasts, suitable for your iPhone, in the Podcasts area of the store. And there are tons of iPhone-compatible movie trailers to download at www.apple.com/trailers/. Hit that link on your iPhone’s browser and watch the trailers stream down, perfectly formatted to the palm of your hand.
Tip: iTunes doesn’t have a monopoly on music sales for your iPhone. Both Amazon (www.amazon.com) and Rhapsody (http://mp3.rhapsody.com) sell songs in MP3 format, meaning no copy protection (and iPhone compatibility). eMusic.com has great MP3 prices, but the music comes from lesser-known bands. Amazon’s MP3 Downloader software for Mac and PC can whip your purchases right into iTunes; Rhapsody has similar helper software for Windows.
Import Music from a CD
iTunes can also convert tracks from audio CDs into iPhone-ready digital music files. Just start up iTunes, and then stick a CD into your computer’s CD drive. The program asks you if you want to convert the songs to audio files for iTunes. (If it doesn’t ask, click Import CD at the bottom of the window.)
Once you tell it to import the music, iTunes walks you through the process. If you’re connected to the Internet, the program automatically downloads song titles and artist information from the CD and begins to add the songs to the iTunes library.
If you want time to think about which songs you want from each CD, then you can tell iTunes to download only the song titles, and then give you a few minutes to ponder your selections. To do that, choose iTunes→Preferences→General (Mac) or Edit→Preferences→General (Windows). Use the When you insert a CD: pop-up menu to choose Show CD.
From now on, if you don’t want the entire album, you can exclude the dud songs by turning off their checkmarks. Then click Import CD in the bottom-right corner of the screen.
Tip: You can ⌘-click (Mac) or Ctrl-click (Windows) any box to turn all the checkboxes on or off. This technique is ideal when you want only one or two songs in the list. First, turn all the checkboxes off, and then turn just those two back on again.
In that same Preferences box, you can also click Import Settings to choose the format (file type) and bit rate (amount of audio data compressed into that format) for your imported tracks. The factory setting is the AAC format at 128 kilobits per second.
Most people think these settings make for fine-sounding music files, but you can change your settings to, for example, MP3, which is another format that lets you cram big music into a small space. Upping the bit rate from 128 kbps to 256 kbps makes for richer-sounding music files—which also happen to take up more room because the files are bigger (and the iPhone’s “hard drive” doesn’t hold as much as your computer’s). The choice is yours.
As the import process starts, iTunes moves down the list of checked songs, ripping each one to a file in your Home→Music→iTunes→iTunes Music folder (Mac) or Documents→Music→iTunes→iTunes Media→Music folder (Windows). An orange squiggle next to a song name means that the track is currently converting. Feel free to switch into other programs, answer email, surf the Web, and do other work while the ripping is under way.
Once the importing is finished, each imported song bears a green checkmark, and iTunes signals its success with a melodious flourish. Now you have some brand-new files in your iTunes library.
Tip: If you always want all the songs on that stack of CDs next to your computer, then change the iTunes CD import preferences to Import CD and Eject to save yourself some clicking. When you insert a CD, iTunes imports it and spits it out, ready for the next one.
The iTunes Store houses thousands upon thousands of podcasts, those free audio (and video!) recordings put out by everyone from big TV networks to a guy in his barn with a microphone.
To explore podcasts, click the Podcasts tab at the top of the store’s window. Now you can browse shows by category, search for podcast names by keyword, or click around until you find something that sounds good.
Many podcasters produce regular installments of their shows, releasing new episodes onto the Internet when they’re ready. You can have iTunes keep a look out for fresh editions of your favorite podcasts and automatically download them for you, where you can find them in the Podcasts area in the iTunes Source list. All you have to do is subscribe to the podcast, which takes a couple of clicks in the store.
If you want to try out a podcast, click the price button (Free) near its title to download just that one show. If you like it (or know that you’re going to like it before you even download the first episode), then there’s also a Subscribe button that signs you up to receive all future episodes.
You play a podcast just like any other file in iTunes: Double-click the file name in the iTunes window and use the playback controls in the upper-left corner. On the iPhone, podcasts show up in their own list.
Some people like the sound of a good book, and iTunes has plenty to offer; click the Audiobooks tab at the top of the Store window. You can find verbal versions of the latest best sellers here, usually priced lower than the hardback version of the book—which would be four times the size of your iPhone anyway.
If iTunes doesn’t offer the audiobook you’re interested in, you can find a larger collection (over 50,000 of them) at Audible.com. This Web store sells all kinds of audio books, plus recorded periodicals like The New York Times and radio shows. To purchase Audible’s wares, though, you need to go to the Web site and create an Audible account.
If you use Windows, then you can download from Audible.com a little program called Audible Download Manager, which catapults your Audible downloads into iTunes for you. On the Mac, Audible files land in iTunes automatically when you buy them.
And when those files do land in iTunes, you can play them on your computer or send them over to the iPhone with a quick sync.
Learn more about this topic from iPhone: The Missing Manual, 4th Edition.
The new iPhone 4 and iPhone 4.0 software have arrived, and New York Times tech columnist David Pogue is on top of it with a thoroughly updated edition of iPhone: The Missing Manual. Each custom-designed page helps you use your iPhone for everything from web browsing to watching videos. The iPhone is packed with possibilities, and with this handy book, you can explore them all.