Top tips: get the most from iTunes and iPod

If you’re an avid Apple user, you’ve had some experience of iTunes before. And it’s also likely – as everyone in the world seems to own one now – that you’ve got an iPod, too.

Put the two together and you’ve got a match made in heaven, but are you using them both to their full advantage?

As we’ve said before, one of the joys of Apple products is that they appear to the outside world to be extremely straightforward to use. And on a basic level that’s certainly true.

Beneath the simplistic veneer through, lies is a complex and versatile beast; one that will reward the more curious user time and time again with a range of features which proves that Apple products may have the beauty, but they have the brains to back it up, too.

In this in-depth feature we’re going to prove just how powerful iTunes and your iPod are – especially when they’re linked together.

Packed full of handy tips and shortcuts, we guarantee that by the time you’ve finished reading it, this complete guide to getting the most from iTunes and your iPod will put you firmly on the path to a greater understanding of how hardware and software can, on occasions, work in perfect harmony.

Go further with iTunes

Playlist Previews

There’s every likelihood that, as you begin to browse your way through the mountain of music and videos in the iTunes Store, you’ll find plenty of things that you’d like to buy. If you fancy making a virtual shopping list, or just want to remember what it is you liked when it comes to pay day, then there’s a quick and easy way to do this.

Start by creating a new playlist and call it something like ‘Store favourites’. Then, go to the album or video you’re thinking of buying (this tip works for both music and videos), pick the ones you’re interested in from the list at the bottom, and then drag and drop them into your new playlist. This process will save a 30-second music or video sample for you that you’re free to replay at your leisure.

iTunes Keyboard shortcuts

Shortcuts will enhance your iTunes experience. For the full list, go to Help > Keyboard Shortcuts in the iTunes menu. Here are our favourites:

  • Create a new Smart Playlist O+[+] Play the selected song [Enter]
  • Create a playlist with the selected songs C+S+[N]
  • Hide or show song artwork C+[G]
  • Open the View Options window C+[J]
  • Turn the Visualizer on C+[T] Display video full-screen C+[F]


Newer versions of iTunes now come with the option to create custom ringtones for your iPhone from songs you’ve purchased through the iTunes Store.

You can also now create ringtones from any song in your iTunes Library by importing into GarageBand, altering it to a suitable length (around 30 seconds is good) and then going to Share > Send Ringtone to iTunes.

Song Display Information

The small window at the top of the iTunes screen hides a multitude of fantastic bonus features, some of which you may not have bothered to venture into yet. For example, have you heard of ‘scrubbing’ a track?

This is simply a matter of dragging the diamond along the progress bar, and if you want to change the total time of the track to how long the currently playing song has left to finish, then just click on the number at the end of the progress bar. Experiment with iTunes and try this out.

Track info

You probably know that you can automatically get CD track information via the Gracenote CDDB database when you insert a CD, but you need to be connected to the internet to get the data – which includes track, artist and album names, along with the year the album was released and occasionally other information, depending on the album.