It's easy to share your content between your Mac and iOS device. Here's how…
Ever since Apple launched the first iPod in 2001, it has been inextricably linked with iTunes - both as a way of filling it up with music and other content, and for managing settings and software updates. That largely remains true today with the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, all of which are dependent on iTunes to a certain extent.
However, the physical ties - hooking up your iOS device to a Mac or PC via FireWire or USB - that bind them to each other will be severed in September with the launch of iCloud, iTunes Connect and iOS 5, which will finally enable iOS and OS X devices to synchronise with each other wirelessly via the internet - no cable required. You won't even need to activate your new iPhone via iTunes as you do now.
Having said that, being able to sync your iOS devices wirelessly won't always be either desirable or convenient, which is why iTunes on the Mac will continue to have a role for the foreseeable future. Whichever way you choose to sync your iOS device with your Mac, there are things you can do.
Whichever iOS device you plug in, you'll see it appear in the Sources sidebar. Click on it and a new view opens up in the main browser window, which enables you decide what kind of content you want to sync, from address books contacts and emails to movies, music and podcasts. Along the bottom is a Capacity bar that tells you how much space on your device certain kinds of content take up.
The first tab you come to - Summary - is arguably the most important. It tells you everything you need to know about your iOS device at a glance - from its name and storage capacity to the iOS software version it's running. The Summary table also enables you to update iOS or return the whole shebang to its factory settings - handy if your iOS device becomes corrupted for some reason or you just to want to clear it out before selling it on.
Scroll to the bottom of the page and you'll come across Options, which includes a handy selection of settings you can toggle on and off so your iOS device behaves differently the next time you sync. These include the ability to sync only certain kinds of content, to live-convert higher bit rate songs in your Mac's iTunes library to 128kbps when you sync them with your iOS device, and to encrypt iTunes backups.
Most of the other sections (music, films, TV programmes, podcasts and iTunes) work in a similar way. That is you can choose to synchronise the contents of each one of the areas automatically or manually (i.e. individually). The Automatic option works extremely well with a number of presets available that enable you to tweak at your leisure whatever content you want to get synchronised.
You could choose to watch all the episodes of a certain show, the oldest unwatched episodes or the three latest episodes, for example. You can even customise these rules so they work differently for every iOS device that you want to sync.
What you might not realise, however, is that you can also synchronise all kinds of other content between your Mac and your iOS device. And these are things that you may not have thought possible - hook up items such as your own photos, movies and music created using apps on your iPhone, iPod or iPad. In iTunes > Source sidebar > your iOS device, select the Apps tab at the top of the browser window, then scroll to the bottom of the page and you'll see the File Sharing option.
The left pane shows all the applications you can synchronise files with; the right pane shows which files are being synced for each application.
Get things together
To synchronise a file, all you have to do is simply click on the application you want to sync, you can then drag and drop the file on to the right-hand pane. To finish off the sync, you then have to open the equivalent app on your iOS device and import it.
Ideally, you'd be able to seamlessly make any changes to documents on one platform and see them reflected on the other, just as you can with Dropbox. Unfortunately, we're not there yet. Instead you have to manually copy the new version back using the steps outlined below. We're hoping that will change with the arrival of iCloud and iOS5 in the autumn.
With iMovie, things become a little more complex. Projects created on iMovie for iPhone or iPad aren't compatible with iMovie for Mac, so you can't start working on a film project in one version and then finish it off with the other.
However, you can partially get around this by importing unedited footage from your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into iMovie on your Mac. And you can export a completed iMovie project created on your iPhone into iTunes.
You can also transfer iMovie clips from your Mac to iMovie for iPhone or iPad using iTunes' File Sharing option, but you'll need to make them iOS-compatible first. The easiest way to do this is to add the clip you want to copy to a new project and then select Share > iTunes from the iMovie menu bar. In the drop-down window that appears, select which iOS devices you want to make your film clip compatible with and then select Publish. After a few minutes, an iOS-compatible version of your original film clip will appear in iTunes, under the Films tab.
How to share Pages documents using iTunes
01. Get set to sync
For this to work you will need to have Pages installed on your Mac and your iPhone or iPad. From the iTunes Source bar, select your iPhone or iPad and go to the Apps tab. Scroll to the bottom of the page until you get to File Sharing. Choose Pages from the left pane. The right pane will show the files that you can sync.
02. Drag, drop, transfer
Find the Pages document you want to sync with your iOS device and then drag and drop it into the right File Sharing pane in iTunes. Open up Pages on your iOS device and tap the '+' icon from the menu bar. Select Copy From and then tap the iTunes icon. Your file will now be transferred.
03. From mobile to Mac
To copy a document from Pages for iPhone to your Mac, open a document and then select the Tool icon from the menu bar. You'll now be presented with a range of options to choose from. Now go to Share and Print > Send to iTunes. The file is now available in iTunes on your Mac.
How to get iOS apps organised in iTunes
01. Synchronise apps
Synchronising iOS apps in iTunes is mainly painless except when iTunes decides to dump the apps you've chosen willy-nilly over several iOS screens. To tidy up, synchronise the apps you want on your iPhone or iPad first, then arrange them. Do it the other way and they'll just get messed up again.
02. Move your apps
Now that's done it's time to sort them. It's quicker and easier to do this in iTunes if you can. Choosing and moving iOS apps works in a similar way in iTunes as it does on your iPhone or iPad. Click on the app you want to move to highlight it, then click and drag it to its new location.
03. Moving many
You can group-move a bunch of apps by holding down the Command key as you click on each one. You can also create folders of iOS apps by dragging and dropping one onto another. Rinse and repeat until your files are organised. Now hit the Apply button again. There. All done.
First published in MacFormat Issue 238
Liked this? Then check out iTunes Ping: the complete guide
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