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iPod & iTunes: The Missing Manual, Second Edition by J.D. Biersdorfer

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The iPod Menus

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.)

Note

The menus and screens described here refer to the ones used in iPod system software 1.3 (for 2001 and 2002 iPods) or 2.1 (on third-generation models that first appeared in 2003). If you have an older 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 Section 15.8.

The main screen (Figure 1-9) says iPod at the top and offers a choice of five areas to go to next: Playlists, Browse, Extras, Settings, and Backlight. Here’s more about what’s under each menu item.

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.

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.

Playlists

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 or MusicMatch Jukebox 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 (Section 4.9.3).

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 or MusicMatch Jukebox Plus appear in the Playlists menu (Figure 1-10). When you want to hear a particular set of songs, choose the playlist’s name and press Play. When you finish listening to one playlist, pick another from the Playlists menu to keep jamming.

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.

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 or MusicMatch; you can’t do that kind of thing on the iPod.

Playlists On-The-Go

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 4) or MusicMatch Jukebox Plus (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.

Note

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. To gain this power of preservation, install the latest update to your iPod’s software from http://www.apple.com/ipod/download.

If you tire of those tunes before you sync up again, you can wipe out the temporary list by selecting the Clear Playlist option at the bottom of On-The-Go submenu.

Browse

If you don’t have a particular playlist in mind, the Browse menu (Figure 1-11) lists your entire music collection, organized in several different ways:

  • 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.

  • Genres. This menu sorts your music by type: Rock, Rap, Country, and so on.

  • Composers. The iPod displays all of your music, grouped by songwriter. (This option doesn’t work on Windows-formatted iPods used with MusicMatch Jukebox on the desktop side.)

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.

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.

Chapters 3, 4, and 5 let you know how all that song information gets attached to your digital audio files in the first place.

Note

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.

Extras

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).

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.

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.

Note

Pre-2003 iPod models lack the Notes feature, Solitaire, Music Quiz, and the Parachute game.

Clock

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.

Beneath this display, the latest iPod models offer a tiny menu that lists three other commands, all related to time eternal: Alarm Clock, Sleep Timer, and Date & Time. Here’s what they do.

Alarm Clock

The iPod’s alarm clock can give you a gentle nudge when you need it. To set the iPod alarm, do the following:

  1. Choose Extras Clock Alarm Clock Alarm. Press the Select button.

    You’ve just switched the alarm on (Figure 1-13, left).

    Left: Any old alarm clock lets you specify what time you want it to go off. But how many let you specify what song you want to play? Right: Turn the dial to set the time.

    Figure 1-13. Left: Any old alarm clock lets you specify what time you want it to go off. But how many let you specify what song you want to play? Right: Turn the dial to set the time.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 ExtrasClockAlarm ClockAlarm and press the Select button to toggle it off.

Tip

You don’t have to burrow all the way to the Clock option just to use your 2003 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 iPodSettingsDate & TimeTime in Title. Press the Select button to toggle the Time in Title display on or off.

Sleep Timer

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 ExtrasClockSleep Timer. Scroll down to the amount of time 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 sleepyland.

Your iPod will stop playing automatically after the appointed interval—but if all goes well, you won’t be awake to notice.

Date & Time

See Section 1.6.4.7; this is a repeat of the command found in the Settings menu.

More Extras

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 7).

  • Calendars. This menu holds your personal daily schedule (Chapter 8).

  • 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 9).

  • 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 9).

Settings

The Settings menu has more than a dozen options for tailoring how your iPod sounds and looks.

Note

The following list refers to the menu layout on the 2003 iPods. (On iPod Software 1.3—the last update available for the 2001 and 2002 models—the order of the settings is slightly different, and there is no Main Menu item for customizing the iPod’s main screen.)

About

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.)

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.

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.

Note

On earlier iPods that have not been updated to iPod Software 1.3 or later, this command lives on the iPod’s main menu.

Main menu

The iPod 2.0 software (introduced on 2003 models) came with 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.

The iPod 2.1 update adds more options to the display. 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 SettingsMain 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.

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:

  • Clock, for quick checks of the time.

  • Games, for quick killing of time.

  • Contacts, to look up phone numbers.

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.

Note

To restore the original factory settings, select Reset Main Menu at the bottom of the list and Reset on the next screen.

Shuffle

When the Shuffle option is off, the iPod plays straight down each playlist as you originally designed it (Chapters 5 and 6). 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 SettingsShuffle 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.

Repeat

The Repeat function works like the similarly named button on a CD player: It makes the music you’re listening to loop over and over again.

To set your Repeat preferences, choose SettingsRepeat 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.

Note

Be careful with the repeat functions. If you set the iPod down (or if it gets bumped when the Hold switch wasn’t activated), it will cheerfully play away, over and over, endlessly, until the battery is dead.

Backlight Timer

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 SettingsBacklight 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 a new playlist or album when you touch the controls.

Choose Always On to keep the light shining until you manually turn it off by holding down the Menu button.

Tip

If you’re spinning tunes as an iPod DJ in a dark club or other squinty situation, the Always On setting is handy. But run the player from the AC adapter unless you have a really short set list, since the backlight is hungry for battery power.

EQ

When it comes to range of sounds, not all music is created equal. A howling heavy metal rock band produces a wider array of noises than a solo female singer armed with only an acoustic guitar.

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 than can add or reduce bass and treble sounds. 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 iPodSettingsEQ. 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.

Tip

See Chapters 4 (Mac) or 5 (Windows) for more on equalization—and how you can apply it from your computer.

Sound Check

This ingenious setting cuts down on those jarring moments between, say, George Winston’s New Age noodling and the latest angry Metallica thrash, by adjusting the overall volume settings.

Note

Sound Check is a feature of iTunes. If you’re on Windows and have opted to stand by MusicMatch Jukebox for your desktop software, though, you don’t have to put up with sore ears. The program’s equivalent feature is called Volume Leveling (Section 5.6.4). In fact, unlike iTunes, which treats Sound Check as an all-or-nothing deal, MusicMatch Jukebox Plus lets you level groups of songs.

Note, however, that Volume Leveling on your PC adjusts the volume of the song files themselves when they’re transferred to the iPod.

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 PreferencesEffects (Note-comma on the Mac; Ctrl-comma in Windows), and turn on the Sound Check box. Then, on the iPod, choose SettingsSound Check, and press the Select button to change the setting from Off to On.

The next time you sync up 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.

Contrast

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.)

Clicker

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.

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.

Date & Time

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.

Tip

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 AM and PM 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.

  4. 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.

Contacts

This setting lets you change the sorting order of the first and last names of people in your iPod’s built-in address book (Chapter 7). See Section 7.6 for full details.

Language

The iPod is the United Nations of digital audio players, in that it can display its menus in most major European and Asian languages.

To set the language for the iPod’s menus, choose SettingsLanguages 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.

Tip

See Chapter 15 if you accidentally change your display language to Korean and can’t figure out how to change it back again.

Legal

The Legal menu contains a long scroll of copyright notices for Apple and its software partners. It’s not very interesting reading.

Reset All Settings

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 SettingsReset All Settings. Then scroll to Reset and press the Select button. (There’s a Cancel option if you decide to bail out.)

Note

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 Section 15.1.1 to learn the procedure.

Backlight

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.

Tip

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.

Now Playing

Highlight this command and press Select to call up the main Now Playing screen, shown in 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—2003-and-later models only).

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—2003-and-later models only).

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