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7 Cool Things You Can Get through iTunes for Your Mac

You can purchase or rent a lot more than just music for your Mac through the iTunes Store. In addition you can share what you purchase or rent for your Mac on your iPod, iPhone, or iPad.

Purchase e-books on your Mac through iTunes

You can read electronic books on your Mac through various third-party apps, notably Amazon, whose Kindle for the Mac app is free (the books aren't free, of course). Although this will change with OS X Mavericks, right now, you can't read the so-called iBooks that Apple sells for iOS devices on a Mac.

But you can still order such books in iTunes on your Mac that you'll end up reading on those other devices. Click the Books tab in the store to check out the numerous iBook choices Apple makes available.

Listen to audiobooks on your Mac through iTunes

From Ernest Hemingway to James Patterson, you can fetch the iTunes equivalent of books on tape and play those on your Mac. You can sample 30-second previews, but the truth is, audiobooks tend to go on for hours, compared to the three or four minutes for your average song, so a 30-second preview probably won't give you more than just the barest hint of how the book reads.

Prices vary too. A 22-minute audio of Stephen Colbert's remarks at the White House Correspondents' Dinner costs 95 cents; an 8 1/2-hour audio version of "Papa" Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms goes for $23.95. To find audiobooks, click the Books tab.

Mac owners who buy audiobooks from the popular Audible.com service (owned by Amazon.com) can download books directly into iTunes.

Listen to podcasts on your Mac through iTunes

Podcasts are another form of Internet radio but instead of listening to live streams via the Net, podcasts are downloadable files you can listen to whenever you get around to it. Many podcasts go beyond "mere" radio by incorporating video as well.

As you'll see after choosing the Podcasts genre inside iTunes, podcasts cover a broad range of topics (business, politics, sports, TV and film, technology, and so on) and are served up by experienced broadcasters, mainstream media outlets (National Public Broadcasting, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal), as well as ordinary Joe's and Josephine's.

Podcasts are free to download and often commercial-free. You can fetch individual episodes by clicking Free or subscribe to podcasts that arrive on a regular basis by clicking Subscribe. As with audiobooks, you can click to hear (or watch) a sample.

You can find the podcasts you've downloaded by clicking Podcasts in the drop-down Library list.

Catch up on TV on your Mac through iTunes

Lost was among the first handful of TV shows that Apple made available on iTunes. The number of programs quickly mushroomed to incorporate everything from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to Homeland. Music videos and short films are also available.

Videos and TV shows inside iTunes typically cost $1.99 to $2.99 apiece; high-definition shows fetch the higher price. As with audio tracks, you can sample 30-second previews and also subscribe to a season for a given series.

Or you can rent certain shows for 99 cents each. When you rent a show, you have 30 days to watch it and 48 hours to finish it after you start watching. You can watch rented TV episodes on your Mac, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or Apple TV; each device remembers where you left off.

Buy or rent movies on your Mac through iTunes

Apple not only sells motion pictures through iTunes but also rents them, too. Newer films typically cost $14.99 to purchase or $3.99 to rent in standard definition − or $19.99 to purchase or $4.99 to rent in HD. Rented movies come (what, again?) with restrictions. You have 30 days to start watching, just like TV show rentals, but only 24 hours to finish after you've begun playing them.

Through iTunes, you can view a movie's trailer and read plot summaries, the credits, and customer reviews.

You can watch a movie on your computer, of course, and a Mac laptop is a great substitute for a portable DVD player or the dreadful film the airline chooses to show you. But when staying put, you probably want to watch on the widescreen TV in your home theater.

Apple sells the $99 Apple TV box, which connects to a TV and wirelessly communicates with your iTunes library to show movies, pictures, and videos and play music through the television.

By the way, you can drag movie or video files you create yourself or obtain from other sources into iTunes.

Before you can transfer some videos to an iPod, iPhone, iPad tablet, or Apple TV set-top box, you may have to convert the videos to a format those devices recognize. Select the video, choose File→Create New Version, and then choose Create iPod or iPhone Version, Create iPad or Apple TV Version, or Create AAC Version.

Purchase apps for your Mac through iTunes

If you have an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, you can access a gaggle of nifty programs for those devices − covering games, news, productivity, social networking, and a whole bunch more. Apple had something north of 750,000 apps, with the vast majority under $10 and many free. Although you can access the App Store wirelessly on an iPhone or a touch, you can also get there directly via iTunes.

Fetching apps in the App store for your portable devices is very similar to the way you buy Mac apps in the Mac App Store.

Access educational audios and videos on your Mac through iTunes U

Bet you thought iTunes was all about fun and games. Hey, learning is fun, too. You can take in a lecture on the Roman Empire from a professor at UC Berkeley. Or, find out about Green Chemistry from Yale. iTunes offers thousands of educational audio and video files from top colleges, museums, and other global organizations. K-12 classes are available too.

Tuition is free and, better still, you get no surprise quizzes.

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