Making Your Music Mobile

With all this great music, you aren't likely to want to limit your listening pleasure to those times when you are working at your Mac. There are two ways in which you can make your iTunes music mobile: by creating your own music CDs or by using a portable MP3 player.

Using iTunes to Create Custom Music CDs

With a Mac and a supported CD recordable drive, you can use iTunes to create your own music CDs. These CDs can contain specific playlists you can then listen to in your car, on portable CD players, and so on.


If you have a CD recording application installed on your Mac, such as Adaptec's popular Toast, you might have trouble getting iTunes to record CDs. If you experience problems when you attempt to record CDs using iTunes, remove any other CD writing applications you have installed.

The general steps to use iTunes to record a custom CD are the following:

  1. Install and configure your CD recorder.

    For information about installing and using CD-R and CD-RW drives, see "Finding, Installing, and Using a CD Writer," p. 790.

  2. Create the playlist from which you want to create a CD.

  3. Configure iTunes for CD burning.

  4. Record the CD.


The process of recording a CD is more commonly called burning a CD, which is the terminology iTunes uses.

Steps 1 and 3 have to be done only once, so after your system is properly configured, you can easily burn subsequent CDs.

Configuring Your CD Recorder in iTunes

Before you can burn a CD, you need to ensure that your CD recorder is properly configured:

  1. Turn on your CD recorder (if it is an external model).

  2. Open the iTunes Preferences dialog box and click the Burning icon.

  3. Ensure that your CD recorder appears next to the CD Burner text at the top of the Burning pane, which means iTunes recognizes and can burn to the device. If you have more than one CD burner available, select the one you want to use on the CD Burner pop-up menu.


    If iTunes does not recognize that you have a supported CD-R or CD-RW drive, see "iTunes Can't Find My CD Recorder" in the "Troubleshooting" section at the end of this chapter.

  4. Use the Preferred Speed pop-up menu to set the burn speed to the appropriate speed. Try Maximum Possible to get the fastest burns. If recording doesn't work properly, reduce the speed. A safe recoding speed is 2x. Unless you are in a tremendous hurry to get a CD done, this will probably be plenty fast for you.

  5. To record an audio CD that will be compatible with standard audio CD players, click the Audio CD radio button and set the amount of quiet time between tracks on the CD by using the Gap Between Songs pop-up menu.

  6. To record an MP3 CD, click the MP3 CD radio button. CDs recorded in this format play only on devices that support the MP3 format. The benefit of these CDs is that you can fit many more tracks on a single CD than you can when you use the Audio CD format.

  7. To record the tunes on a data CD or DVD, click the Data CD or DVD radio button. These discs are typically limited to playback on computers; putting tunes on a DVD is a great way to back them up.


    If your Mac doesn't have a DVD-R drive, the radio button will be labeled Data CD.

  8. Click OK.

Each time you burn a CD or DVD, it is burned in the selected format. If you want to change the format of a disc, just use the previous steps to select a different format.


You should back up any music you purchase from the iTunes Music Store. A great way to do this is to periodically burn the Purchased Music playlist onto a CD, or after your music collection grows such that your purchased music won't fit on a CD or DVD.

Burning an Audio CD

When your system is configured properly, you are ready to create the CD:

  1. Create the playlist you want to put on the CD. Make sure the songs are in the order in which you want to listen to them. Also be sure that the playlist contains fewer minutes of music than your CD-R media is rated for?select the playlist and look at the bottom of the iTunes window. Most CD-R media is rated for 70?80 minutes so your playlist should be less than this.

  2. Select the playlist you want to place on the CD.

  3. Click the Burn CD action button; you are prompted to insert a blank CD.

  4. Insert the blank CD and close the drive (unless you have a slot-loading CD-RW drive, in which case this isn't necessary). In a moment, the Burn CD button is in color and starts pulsing to indicate that you are ready to burn. iTunes checks to make sure that everything is ready to go. When these checks are complete, you are prompted to click the Burn CD button.

  5. Click the Burn CD button again to burn the CD.


Use CD-R discs for audio CDs you create rather than CD-RW discs, especially if you will be using the CDs you create in noncomputer CD players. If you create an audio CD using a CD-RW disc, you probably won't be able to play it using any CD player except the one on which you created it (which wouldn't be very useful).

When iTunes records your playlist to a CD, it first translates the music into the standard Audio CD format (assuming you elected to create an audio CD rather than an MP3 or data CD, of course). The application translates each of the songs on the CD prior to burning them. This process takes several minutes to complete. Watch the display area for progress and status messages. When it is done, iTunes begins recording the CD.


The spinning Burn CD icon gives you a clue as to how fast data is being transferred to the CD recorder. The faster the icon spins, the higher the data transfer rate is being achieved. If the icon slows considerably or stops altogether, you might experience errors because data isn't flowing fast enough to keep the CD burning process fed properly. If this happens, quit all applications that might be accessing any disks on your Mac and make sure that you aren't playing any music in iTunes. This ensures that the maximum amount of system resources is available for the CD burning process. You can also lower the burn speed to reduce the data flow requirements?doing so often alleviates this problem.

Depending on the speed at which your recorder works and the amount of data to record, this process can take only a couple of minutes or quite a while. When it is complete, iTunes plays a sound to indicate that the process is done. The CD you created is mounted on your Mac and is selected as the current source.


If iTunes stops the process before it is complete, see "iTunes Stops Recording Before the Process Is Complete" in the "Troubleshooting" section at the end of this chapter.

If the CD you create can't be read on standard CD players, such as those in your car, see "The CDs I Make Won't Play in My Noncomputer CD Player" in the "Troubleshooting" section at the end of this chapter.

Using iTunes with an Apple iPod

Although the Apple iPod is an MP3 player, it is much more than most MP3 players. Whereas many MP3 players are limited to 64MB or 128MB of memory, the iPod includes its own hard drive with 10GB, 20GB, or even 40GB of storage space. This means you can store an entire music collection on the iPod (about 10,000 songs for the 40GB model), which eliminates the chore of selecting a small subset of your library to take on the road with you. The iPod uses the FireWire interface to communicate with your Mac, so data transfers to and from the iPod much more quickly than it does with most other MP3 players (because most use USB 1, which is much slower than FireWire). In addition, iTunes is designed to make managing your mobile music with the iPod even easier than it is with standard MP3 players. For example, you can set up the iPod so it is automatically synced with your iTunes music collection, including the songs in your Library, playlists, and so on. Additionally, iPods can play music in the AAC format, which means you can also take music with you that you purchased from the iTunes Music Store without any additional steps.


You even use an iPod to display your contacts and appointments.

The iPod's only downside is its cost, which is higher than that of many MP3 players. At press time, the iPod costs $299 for the 10GB model, $399 for the 20GB model, or $499 for the 40GB model. However, if you consider that the iPod is actually a very small FireWire hard drive and includes an 8-hour rechargeable battery, its price doesn't seem as high. Also, keep in mind that you would have to buy many, many memory cards for most players for them to even approach the amount of music you can store on the iPod.

Another nice feature of the iPod is that its battery can be recharged through the FireWire port. So, you can recharge your iPod just by connecting it to your Mac.

iTunes is designed to keep the iPod in sync with your music Library. Here's how:

  1. Connect the iPod to your Mac using the supplied FireWire cable. Your Mac recognizes the iPod as a new source, and iTunes begins to download all the music in your Library to the iPod. During this process, the iTunes Information window displays the progress of the process, as well warning you not to unplug the iPod while the update is in process. As songs are downloaded, the refresh icon next to them disappears.


    If your iTunes library contains more music than can be stored on the iPod, you must manually configure the music on the iPod. You will learn how to do that shortly.

  2. When the process is complete, disconnect the iPod. Your entire iTunes music library is ready to go with you.


iTunes contains a complete online help system for the iPod. To access it, select Help, iPod Help.

When an iPod is connected to your Mac, it is mounted on the desktop and is available as a source in the Source pane (see Figure 16.23). You can work with an iPod as a source in ways that are similar to other sources.

Figure 16.23. When an iPod is connected to your Mac, it appears on the Source pane.


As you add music to your Library, create playlists, remove songs, and so on, you should keep your iPod current with your iTunes Library. You can control how this is done by setting preferences for the iPod using the Player Options button, which looks like the iPod itself.

When you click this button, the iPod Preferences window opens (see Figure 16.24). The options you have in this window are explained in the following list:

  • Automatically update all songs and playlists? When this option is selected, the entire iTunes music Library is synchronized with the music on the iPod each time you connect the iPod to your Mac. This means the iPod contains a mirror image of the music you are managing in iTunes. Of course, your iPod must be capable of storing all the music you have in your iTunes Library for you to use this option.

  • Automatically update selected playlists only? When you select this option, you select the playlists you want to be updated. When you connect the iPod to your Mac, only the selected playlists are synchronized. This option is useful if there is music in iTunes that you don't really want to carry with you or when you can't fit your entire iTunes Library on the iPod. Create the playlists you want to keep on the iPod and then have them synchronized automatically.

  • Manually manage songs and playlists? With this option, you must manually move songs to the iPod; you do this just as you do for regular MP3 players. To add playlists or songs to the iPod, drag them onto the iPod icon in the Source pane.


    You can double-click the iPod icon in the Source pane to open it in its own window.

  • Open iTunes when attached? With this check box selected, iTunes opens when you attach an iPod to your Mac.

  • Enable FireWire disk use? You can use your iPod as an external FireWire hard disk. To do so, check this box and also the "Manually manage songs and playlists" radio button. When you attach the iPod to your Mac, you can work with it just like other hard disks. (You can't use this method to transfer music to the iPod, though; instead you must use iTunes to do that.)

  • Only update checked songs? This option enables you to prevent songs from being copied to the iPod. Check this box and then uncheck the box next to any songs you don't want to be copied to the iPod.

Figure 16.24. The Player Options button enables you to configure how your iPod is synchronized with your iTunes music library.


    Part I: Mac OS X: Exploring the Core
    Part III: Mac OS X: Living the Digital Life