O'Reilly Book Excerpts: iPod: The Missing Manual, Fifth Edition

[Ed. Note: The tiny pamphlet that Apple includes in each iPod package is enough to get your iPod up and running, charged, and ready to download music. But if you want to know more about how the iPod works, all the great things it can do, and where to find its secret features, turn to iPod: The Missing Manual, by J.D. Biersdorfer. Just out this month, the substantially revised fifth edition covers all the new models as well as updates to iTunes and third-party add-ons. It's the book that should have been in the box.

In creating the new edition, Biersdorfer and O'Reilly broke the information into dozens of quick, result-oriented tips. Here are a few to whet your appetite.]

Digital Photographer Alert: Storing Full-Quality Photos on the iPod

When iTunes optimizes your photos for iPoddification, it streamlines the images a bit for faster travel instead of copying the big, full-resolution files. But if you want, you can copy the full-size photo files to transfer them to another computer—good news if you're a photographer and you want to haul around a big, print-ready photo collection.

Just follow these steps:

  1. Connect the iPod and select it in the iTunes Source list. Make sure you've set up the iPod as a portable hard drive. Chapter 8in the book explains how. The short version: in your iPod's settings page in iTunes, click the Summary tab and then turn on the "Enable disk use" checkbox.
  2. Click the Photos tab in the iTunes window.
  3. Turn on the "Include full-resolution photos" checkbox. After you sync, full-resolution copies of the photos sit happily in the Photos folder on the iPod's hard drive. (The Photos folder also has a subfolder called Thumbs that's full of iPod-optimized images all scrunched up in special .ithmb files; you can safely ignore these.)
High-Res Photo Transfer

Selecting the "Include full resolution photos" checkbox before syncing your iPod lets it work as a digital briefcase for high-quality images.

Safely Resetting Your iPod

If your iPod seems frozen, confused, or otherwise unresponsive, you can reset it without losing your music and data files. Some settings, like Bookmarks in long audio book files and On-the-Go Playlists, may not be preserved, but at least you can get things running again with this easy quick fix:

  1. Make sure the battery is charged and then slide the Hold switch on and off again.
  2. Press and hold down the Menu and center Select buttons.
  3. Hold the buttons down until you see the Apple logo appear on the screen. This could take several seconds (but less than ten) to kick in, and you may have to do it twice, but keep pressing until you see the Apple logo.
iPod Reset

Resetting the iPod, Step 2.

If the technology gods are smiling, the iPod goes through its little start-up sequence and then returns you to the main menu.

A stalled or befuddled iPod Shuffle may also need a good firm reset from time to time, but like the Shuffle itself, resetting it is a bit simpler than wrestling with a regular iPod: Turn the On/Off switch to the Off position, wait five seconds or so, and then flip it back to the On position.

Tip: If you have a new video iPod or iPod Nano and want to use it with both a Mac and a PC, connect it to the PC first and have iTunes format it for Windows. A Mac can read a Windows-formatted iPod, but Windows won't recognize the Mac format without special software. (The iPod Shuffle automatically works with both Macs and PCs.)

Loading Songs on an iPod from More Than One Computer

iTunes' Autosync feature makes keeping your iPod up-to-date a total breeze, but there's a big catch: You can sync your iPod with only one computer. Lots of people have music scattered around multiple machines: a couple of different family Macs, an office PC and a home PC, and so on. If you want to load up your music from each one of these, you have to change the iPod to manual management. That's easy to do. Just connect the iPod, select it in the Source list, and then click the Summary tab in the iTunes window. Then:

Manually Manage Music

Manually managing your files is the secret to sharing an iPod among multiple computers.

Manual Eject Buttons

In Manual mode, you'll need to use iTunes' Eject buttons to disconnect your iPod safely.

  • Scroll down to the Options area and turn on the checkbox next to "Manually manage music and videos." Click the Apply button in the bottom corner of iTunes to make the change.
  • From now on you'll have to manually eject the iPod from iTunes every time you want to remove it from your computer. (Manual update gives you total control, but as Uncle Ben said in Spider-Man, "With great power comes great responsibility.") Eject the iPod by either clicking the Eject button next to its name in the iTunes Source list or clicking the Eject iPod button down in the bottom corner of iTunes.

Finding iPod-Friendly Videos Online

When Apple rolled out the new video iPods, it made sure to serve up some video content for folks to play on the newfangled devices. The iTunes Store now sells music videos, classic Pixar cartoons, and selected television shows, all for about $2 apiece, plus full-length Hollywood flicks for $10 to $15 a movie. The Store also hosts a collection of video podcasts for download.

But as everyone knows, the Web is teeming with videos that will never see the bright lights of the iTunes Store. So grab your popcorn and start surfing. Here are a handful of places to find iPod-ready videos to download:

Google Video. Some (not all) of the video clips on the mighty Google site are formatted for the iPod and ready to download. Look for files with a "Download to iPod" button at http://video.google.com.

Google Video Download

Google Video is a quick way to get iPod-compatible clips. Just make sure to select the iPod format in the menu next to the Download button.

Official Movie Web Sites. Many an upcoming film now features a downloadable trailer formatted just for the iPod. Browse through some of the links at www.apple.com/trailers to see what film previews are listed, and then click through to the film's own Web site to see if they offer an iPod download.

QuickTime Trailers

Apple's QuickTime Trailers site is another bonanza of iPod-ready movies.

Veoh. You can find an eclectic mix of free videos at www.veoh.com, in a wide range of categories—and many of them are ready to download to your iPod.

Your Own TiVo. The wily digital video recorder that reads your mind and records your television shows has gotten into the iPod video picture game. The company's TiVoToGo software (which moves recorded shows off the TiVo box and onto Windows computers; no Mac version yet) can also move recorded shows right onto the iPod. Visit www.tivo. com/ for more information.

But those aren't the only places to find iPod video. New software and services pop up around the Web all the time, and there are tips and tricks in the book for making your own pocket videos.

Cool Software for Even More iPod Fun

There's something about the iPod that inspires creativity on many levels. Plenty of software developers have risen to the challenge of making programs that make the iPod even more useful. Once of the best resources is the iPod software area of the iLounge site, where you can find all sorts of Podware. Other spots around the Web you may want to check out include:

Talking Panda

Talking Panda Software. Want to learn how to speak traveler's French, teach yourself guitar chords, or store a reference library of 1,000 drink recipes—all on your iPod? Check out Talking Panda's stable of inexpensive iPod programs, specifically iLingo, iRocker, and iBar.

iPod Directions. This neighborly Web site uses Yahoo Local to download maps and driving instructions from Point A to Point B. Just add the downloaded files to your preferred Photos folder (Chapter 7 in the book explains how) and let iTunes sync the images to your iPod. You'll never have to ask strangers for directions again.

Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes. Mac OS X folks who use AppleScript, Apple's built-in tool for automating certain tasks, will find more than 400 different scripts for managing iTunes and the iPod here.

Hot off the Press

There's much, much more information in the book from which these tips came, iPod: The Missing Manual, Fifth Edition. You can see the table of contents (PDF) and the entire Playlist chapter right now to get a sense of the colorful layout and ideas inside. It's time to get rolling with your new iPod. Ready?

View catalog information for iPod: The Missing Manual, Fifth Edition

Return to digitalmedia.oreilly.com