The iPod’s menus are as straightforward as its controls. You use the scroll wheel to go down the list of options you see on the screen. Then you press the Select button to pick what you want. Small arrows on the end of each menu item (like this: Settings >) indicate that another menu lurks behind it, so keep pressing Select until you get where you want to go. (If you realize that that is not where you want to go, press the Menu button to retrace your steps.)
The menus and screens described here refer to the ones used in iPod system software 3.0.2 for the 2004 iPods, 2.3 for the 2003 iPods, and 1.3 for the iPod Mini. Version 1.5 system software for 2001 and 2002 iPods is similar but lacks certain advancements like the Solitaire and Parachute games and the Notes feature. If you have an iPod that you haven’t updated in a while, you can update your software by downloading the current version from Apple’s Web site. Details on page 343.
The main screen (Figure 1-9) says iPod at the top and offers a choice of five areas to go to next: Music, Extras, Settings, Shuffle Songs, and Backlight (2004 iPods) or Playlists, Browse, Extras, Settings, and Backlight (for older versions of the iPod software). Here’s more about what’s under each menu item.
Figure 1-9. If you don’t see this main menu at the moment, press the Menu button repeatedly until you do. From here, you can drill down into any iPod function. The main screen on the 2004 iPods starts with Music (left), while older iPods start their main menu options with Playlists (right).
The Music menu, which arrived with the 2004 iPods, is a big one-stop shopping center for all the iPod’s song-related options and is also included in the current iPod software. The Playlists menu (see below) is now under Music, and the items that used to be under the Browse menu (Artists, Albums, Songs, Genres, and Composers) have all relocated to the new Music menu. Read on for more details about these submenus.
A playlist is a customized list of songs that you create from the tracks in your music library. It’s your own personal music mix that you can save, store, and play over and over again on your iPod or computer.
Except for On-The-Go playlists (described next), you make playlists on your Mac or PC using the iTunes software. For example, you can make a playlist called “Go For Baroque” and add all of your favorite Bach and Handel songs from your music library, in the order you want to hear them. You can also get the computer to create playlists for you with the iTunes Smart Playlists feature.
Once you save a playlist and synchronize your computer with the iPod, the file is transferred to the iPod.
All of the playlists you’ve created in iTunes appear in the Playlists menu (Figure 1-10). When you want to hear a particular set of songs, choose the play-list’s name and press Play. When you finish listening to one playlist, pick another from the Playlists menu to keep jamming.
Figure 1-10. Left: Scroll to the playlist you want, select it, and press Play.Right: If you highlight a playlist name and then press Select instead, you see a list of the songs in that playlist.
Playlists are not set in stone. For example, if you made a playlist called “Everything Radiohead Ever Recorded,” and Radiohead puts out a new album, you can just rip the new CD to MP3 files on your Mac or PC, drag them onto your existing Radiohead playlist, and update the iPod.
To modify or delete a playlist, use iTunes; you can’t do that kind of thing on the iPod.
Before the 2003 iPods beamed in from Apple headquarters, the only way to make a playlist for the iPod was to sit down at your computer and fire up iTunes (Chapter 5). Then you had to download the fresh hot playlist to the iPod when it was connected.
This method didn’t exactly provide instant gratification. If, while you were bopping around town, you found yourself suddenly wishing you could hear an eclectic mix of tunes from several different albums and artists, you were out of luck.
The Playlists On-The-Go feature fixes that. You scroll through your iPod’s music library, select the song you want to add, and hold down the Select button for a few seconds. The song’s title blinks three times to acknowledge its addition to a special, modifiable playlist called On-The-Go. You’re then free to scroll onward to the next song you want to add. You can press and select entire albums, artists, or even other playlists to add to your On-The-Go compilation.
To see your On-The-Go playlist, just scroll to the very bottom of the Playlists menu. Press Select to see the list of songs in it—or press Play to hear them.
For people who really love spontaneous music-mixing, it’s also possible to save ‘n’ sync multiple On-The-Go playlists. Once you have a set list you really want to keep in the On-The-Go area of the playlists menu, scroll down to the bottom of the list and choose Save Playlist. This slides you over to another screen where your options are Cancel or Save Playlist. Press Save Playlist to have the songs immortalized as New Playlist 1 on the iPod, until you can hook up with iTunes and rename it something more memorable.
Once you save an On-The-Go playlist on the iPod, all those songs move over to New Playlist 1, and you can whip up a fresh grouping of tunes. If you opt for Save Playlist again, that new batch becomes New Playlist 2. If you have your iPod configured to automatically sync with iTunes (page 46), all the New Playlists appear in the iTunes Source list, where you can rename them. If you choose to manually update your iPod, though, you don’t get to see the New Playlists in iTunes and you have to recreate them yourself within iTunes because the program won’t save them for you.
The first version of the On-The-Go playlist feature held the song set in its memory only until the next time you connected it to the computer. Version 2.1 of the iPod system software fixes that temporal annoyance and lets you sync your spontaneous mix back into iTunes, as long as your iPod is set to automatically synchronize with iTunes on your computer. To gain this power of preservation, install the latest update to your iPod’s software from http://www.apple.com/ipod/download. If you bought a new iPod anytime after January 2004, you shouldn’t need to install this update.
If you tire of those tunes before you sync up again and don’t want to save them, you can wipe out the temporary list by selecting the Clear Playlist option at the bottom of the On-The-Go submenu.
If you don’t have a particular playlist in mind, the Browse or Music menu (Figure 1-11) lists your entire music collection, organized in several different ways.
Figure 1-11. Click Artists to see a list of all the bands and singers in your iPod’s music library. Once you select an artist, the next screen takes you to a list of all of that performer’s albums. Similarly, the Albums menu shows all your iPod’s songs grouped by album name.
Artists. This menu groups every tune by the performer’s name.
Albums.This view groups your music by album.
Songs. This is a list of every song on the iPod, listed alphabetically.
If you’re a classical music buff, all bets are off when it comes to filing tidy bits of information into the Song, Composer, and Artist slots. As an article in the New York Times put it: “Take Saint-Saëns’s First Cello Concerto, ‘Violoncello in A major,’ Opus 33, No. 1, with Mstislav Rostropovich as soloist and Carlo Maria Giulini conducting the London Philharmonic. Whose name should go into the ‘artist’ slot? And what’s the ’song title'?”
Sometimes, you just have to suffer for your art.
The main difference between the iPod Photo and the iPod is, well, the ability to display digital pictures either right on that bright color screen or on a conveniently connected television set. If you don’t have an iPod Photo model, skip ahead to the Extras (unless you want to see what you’re missing).
The Photos menu is where you go on your iPod Photo to adjust your picture-viewing preferences.
Music. Here you can select a playlist as your slideshow soundtrack or opt for respectful silence.
TV Out. To display your slideshow on a connected TV, select the On or Ask option. For portable slideshows on the iPod Photo screen, choose Off or Ask. (Off does what it says, and Ask nags you to pick between your TV and your iPod’s screen before it’ll play the show.)
TV Signal. Different countries have different television broadcast standards. When connected to a TV in North America, South America, or East Asia, select NTSC; most of Europe, China, Africa, and Australia use the PAL standard.
The photo library or albums you loaded on your iPod (see Chapter 6) is listed here. Select Photo Libary to scroll through a pint-size visual directory of all the pictures stored in the selected album. Use the scroll wheel to highlight a particular photo and press the Select button to see just that image on the screen. Use the and to move backward or forward through the pictures in the library.
This menu contains all the goodies that make the iPod more than just a music player. Here’s what you’ll find there (Figure 1-12).
Figure 1-12. Left: Playing music is only one function of today’s iPod, as it can double as a personal organizer, time keeper, and palm-sized game arcade.Right: The clock gives a whole new meaning to the term pocket watch. As it turns out, the iPod makes a dandy travel alarm.
When you choose Clock, you see the screen shown in Figure 1-12, at right: a live digital clock. This little timekeeper comes in handy if you forget your watch.
Choose Extras → Clock → Alarm Clock → Alarm. Press the Select button.
You’ve just switched the alarm on (Figure 1-13, left).
Scroll to Time, press Select, and spin the scroll wheel.
As you turn the wheel, you change the time that the iPod displays (Figure 1-13, right). Keep going until the desired wake-up time appears.
Press Select again to set the time.
It’s time to decide whether you want “Beep” (a warbling R2-D2-like noise that comes out of the iPod’s built-in speaker) or music. If you choose to be alerted by music, it will play through your headphones, assuming they haven’t fallen out of your ear sockets during sleep.
Scroll to Sound and press Select. Choose Beep (at the top of the list), or highlight the playlist you want to hear at the appointed time. Press Select.
The Alarm Clock is set. You see a tiny bell icon on the main clock screen.
When the alarm goes off, the iPod beeps for a few seconds—or plays the playlist you selected—until you press the iPod’s Pause button.
If you wake up early and want to prevent the alarm from sounding, go to Extras → Clock → Alarm Clock → Alarm and press the Select button to toggle it off.
You don’t have to burrow all the way to the Clock option just to use your 2003-or-later iPod as a pocket watch. You can ask iPod to display the current time in its title bar whenever music is playing. To do so, choose iPod → Settings → Date & Time → Time in Title. Press the Select button to toggle the Time in Title display on or off.
The sleep timer is like the opposite of the alarm clock: it’s designed to help you fall asleep instead of waking you. The idea is that you can schedule the iPod to shut itself off after a specified period of music playing, so that you can drift off to sleep as music plays, without worrying that you’ll run down your battery.
To set the iPod’s Sleep Timer, choose Extras → Clock → Sleep Timer. Scroll down to the amount of time the iPod should play before shutting down: 15, 20, 60, 90, or 120 minutes. (You can also choose to turn off the Sleep Timer here.)
Now start the iPod playing (press Play) and snuggle down into your easy chair or pillow. The screen displays a little clock and begins a digital countdown to sleepy-land.
Your iPod will stop playing automatically after the appointed interval—but if all goes well, you won’t be awake to notice.
See page 28; this is a repeat of the command found in the Settings menu.
The remaining items on the Extras menu go far beyond music—once you know how to use them. More details about getting the most out of your iPod are revealed in Part 3 of this book, but here’s what you have to look forward to:
Contacts. Phone numbers and addresses reside here (Chapter 8).
Calendars. This menu holds your personal daily schedule (Chapter 9).
Notes. The 2003 iPods were the first to come with a built-in text reader program that you can use to read short documents and notes (Chapter 10).
Games. You can play the historic Brick game on the iPod. On 2003-and-later models, you also get Parachute, Solitaire, and a Music Quiz (Chapter 10).
The Settings menu has more than a dozen options for tailoring how your iPod sounds and looks.
The following list refers to the state of the iPod menu software as of March 2005. Depending on your iPod model and the version of the iPod software you are using, you may see slight variations on the options offered.
The About screen displays the name of your iPod, the number of songs on it, the hard drive capacity of your model, and how much disk space is free. As shown in Figure 1-14, you can also find the version of the iPod system software that your unit is currently running, as well as your iPod’s serial number. (The serial number is also engraved on the iPod’s back panel.)
New iPods released since 2003 have a handy personalization feature: the ability to arrange your iPod’s Main Menu screen so that only the items you like show up when you spin the wheel. For example, you could insert the Calendar option onto the iPod’s opening screen, so that you don’t have to drill down through the Extras menu to get at it.
Although not available for the iPod Mini, full-size iPods offer even more display options. For example, if you’ve bought a Belkin Voice Recorder to capture your own sweet nothings in your iPod, the Voice Memos command appears here, right up front.
To customize your iPod’s Main Menu, start by choosing Settings → Main Menu from the main iPod menu (Figure 1-14, right). You see a list of items that you can choose to add to or eliminate from your iPod’s main screen: Playlists, Browse, Artists, Clock, Sleep, and so on.
Figure 1-14. Left: Among other bits of trivia, the About screen shows how much space is left on the iPod, ready for you to fill with songs and files.Right: The Main Menu settings, just under About, can customize your iPod’s main screen.
As you scroll down the list, press the Select button to turn each one on or off. You might, for example, consider adding these commands:
To see the fruits of your labor, press Menu twice to return to the main screen. Sure enough, in addition to the usual commands described in this chapter, you’ll see the formerly buried commands right out front, ready to go.
When the Shuffle option is off, the iPod plays straight down each playlist as you originally designed it (Chapters 6 and 7). If you turn on Shuffle Songs, the iPod ambles through all the songs on your chosen playlist or album in random order. Press Select again to get Shuffle Albums, which makes the iPod mix up the order of the albums it plays (but not the songs within each album).
To set your Shuffle preferences, choose Settings → Shuffle from the main menu. Then press the Select button to cycle through your three options—Off, Songs, or Albums—until you hit the one you want. Proud owners of 2004 iPods, iPod Photos, and people who’ve updated their Minis to the latest software, don’t have to go this far to shuffle songs; Shuffle is now an option right out there on the main iPod menu.
To set your Repeat preferences, choose Settings → Repeat from the main menu. Now, by pressing the Select button repeatedly, you can cycle through these three options:
Repeat One. You’ll hear the current song repeated over and over again, like a hippie teenager with a new Beatles 45.
Repeat All. This function repeats the current list over and over again, whether that’s an album, a playlist, or your entire song library.
Off. The iPod will play the selected playlist or album once, and then stop.
The iPod screen’s backlight is pretty, but can be a real drain on the iPod’s battery. Fortunately, you can specify how long the backlight stays on each time you press a button or turn the dial, from 1 Second to Always On. If you never want the iPod to light up—for example, when it’s in its case and you use the remote control to operate it—you can also turn off the backlight completely.
To set your Backlight Timer preferences, choose Settings → Backlight Timer. Scroll to the amount of time you want the Backlight to stay on when you touch any iPod button—2 Seconds, 5 Seconds, or whatever—and then press Select.
For example, if you use the iPod in low-light conditions, or have a hard time reading the screen, a ray of backlight for 5 or 10 seconds should be enough time to scroll up to a new playlist or album when you touch the controls.
Serious audio book aficionados will appreciate this new setting that arrived with the latest iPods. The Audiobooks setting now lets you speed up or slow down the narrator’s voice as he or she reads to you. If you later decide that the Faster setting makes your spoken novel sound like it’s being read by an auctioneer, switch the setting back to Normal.
Equalization is the art of adjusting the frequency response of an audio signal. An equalizer emphasizes or boosts some of its frequencies, while lowering others. In the range of audible sound, bass frequencies are the low rumbly noises; treble is at the opposite end with the high, even shrill sound; and midrange is, of course, in the middle, and the most audible to human ears.
To save you the trouble of getting an audio engineering degree, the iPod includes a set of equalizer presets, named after the type of music (and the typical musical instruments) they’re designed to enhance. Dance music, for example, usually has higher bass frequencies to emphasize the booming rhythm.
By contrast, if you’re listening to your playlist of Haydn string quartets, try setting the iPod’s equalizer to the Classical preset. This setting softens some of the more screechy higher frequencies while providing firm, sturdy midrange and bass frequencies that make for a mellow cello.
There are more than 20 equalizer presets on the iPod—for acoustic, classical, dance, hip hop, jazz, pop, rock, and other types of music—plus, settings that can add or reduce bass and treble sounds. They might drain the battery a little faster and you might not be able to hear much difference, but many people prefer equalized music for the overall sound quality.
To set your iPod’s Equalizer to a preset designed for a specific type of music or situation, choose iPod → Settings → EQ. Scroll down the list of presets until you find one that matches your music style, and then press the Select button. The name of the preset is now listed next to EQ on the Settings menu.
See Chapter 5 for more on equalization and how you can apply it from your computer.
The key to making this feature work is to remember that you have to turn it on in two places: once in iTunes on your Mac or PC, and once on the iPod.
Start in iTunes. Choose Preferences → Effects (-comma on the Mac; Ctrl+comma in Windows), and turn on the Sound Check box. Then, on the iPod, choose Settings → Sound Check, and press the Select button to change the setting from Off to On.
The next time you sync up your iPod with the computer, the Sound Check adjustments you made in iTunes get passed along to the player.
If you don’t like the Sound Check effect, turn it off in both places.
You can alter the relative blackness of the text on the iPod screen by pressing the Contrast setting and adjusting the screen with the scroll wheel. (Temperature— either of the iPod or the air around it—can nudge the contrast out of whack, which is why you may sometimes need to adjust it.)
Usually, each time you click an iPod button or turn its dial, you hear a little clicking sound from the iPod’s built-in speaker. If you prefer to scroll in silence, simply turn the Clicker sound off here. Current iPods let you opt to have the Clicker noise play only through the headphones, only through the iPod’s speaker, or both.
Some people might think the Clicker noise sounds like ants tap dancing, but others like the audio cue—especially on touchwheel iPods that don’t otherwise give much in the way of feedback while you’re scrolling.
If you’ve just flown in from the coast and need to adjust your iPod’s clock, you can change the player’s date, time, and time zone settings here. These settings are especially important if the iPod needs to be punctual, like when you intend to use the Alarm Clock.
If you’re syncing your iPod to a Mac running Mac OS X 10.2 or later, don’t bother setting your date and time on the iPod. The computer does it for you.
To manually set the clock from the Date & Time settings area:
From the main menu, choose Settings → Date & Time.
You’re going to set the time zone first. Setting the time zone is sort of a moot point if you never go far enough to change time zones. But if you travel a lot and want to change the iPod’s clock with a minimum of fuss, this setting saves you from resetting the time when you land in New York after flying in from Los Angeles.
Scroll to and select Set Time Zone. Pick your time zone (or a city in your time zone) from the list. Press the Select button when you’re done.
You may notice that the iPod’s list doesn’t match the list of time zones found in a world atlas. Although the standard U.S. time zones are represented (with a Daylight Savings Time option for each), foreign time zones are represented by a list of major cities in each. The list isn’t in alphabetical order, but starts at the International Date Line and moves eastward from Eniwetok to Auckland.
Back on the Date & Time settings screen, scroll to and select Set Date & Time.
Use the scroll wheel to adjust the highlighted hour, minute, day, month, and year. You can also choose to have the iPod display the time in the standard 12-hour clock with a.m. and p.m. designations, or 24-hour clock used by the military and on M*A*S*H reruns. Use the Next and Previous buttons on the iPod to skip over fields you don’t need to change.
Press the Select button for each part of today’s date as you scroll to it, until everything is set.
Press the Menu button a couple of times to return to the main menu.
To set the language for the iPod’s menus, choose Settings → Languages from the main iPod menu. Scroll down the list of languages and press the Select button when you find your native tongue (or the one you want to use if you’re practicing vocabulary for Swedish class).
The iPod’s menus now appear in the new language. To change back, return to the Language settings and scroll to a new language.
See Chapter 16 if you accidentally change your display language to Korean and can’t figure out how to change it back again.
The Legal menu contains a long scroll of copyright notices for Apple and its software partners. It’s not very interesting reading unless perhaps you’re studying intellectual-property law.
This command takes all your iPod’s customized sound and display settings back to their original factory settings. This feature doesn’t erase your music or contacts— just customized tweakings of things like the Shuffle function and Backlight Timer.
To return your iPod to its untweaked state, choose Settings → Reset All Settings. Then scroll to Reset and press the Select button. (There’s a Cancel option if you decide to bail out.)
Reset All Settings affects the software only. It’s not the same thing as resetting the iPod itself (the hardware). Resetting the iPod involves pushing buttons to reboot the player when the iPod freezes or won’t wake up from sleep mode. See page 308 to learn the procedure.
The mystical, magical qualities of the iPod’s Shuffle Songs setting (”How does my little PeaPod always know when to play my Weird Al Yankovic and Monty Python songs to cheer me up?“) have become one of the player’s most popular features, so Apple moved Shuffle out to the main menu on its latest models and updated the iPod’s software for older ones.
Version 1.2 of the iPod Mini software moves the Music and Shuffle Songs options front and center on the main menu now, too. So if you haven’t updated your Mini in a while or are scared to, take a stroll to Chapter 16 for the details on updating the software.
The Backlight menu provides a quick and easy path to enlightenment on the main iPod screen: just highlight this command and press Select to turn the light on or off.
You can also turn on the backlight by holding down the Menu button for a few seconds, no matter what screen you’re looking at.
When the backlight is activated on a 2003 iPod, the control buttons light up in a glowing red that nicely complements the bright white backlight.
Highlight this command and press Select to call up the main Now Playing screen, shown in Figure 1-15.
Figure 1-15. Now Playing is a little display of the current song, album, and performer. It starts out with a scroll bar “map” that shows how far you are into the song, and how much song is left to play. But each time you press the Select button, the bottom display changes: from a static map of your progress, to a movable “scrubber” indicator, to a screen where you can adjust the rating for the current song (by turning the scroll dial).