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7 Cool Things You Can Get through iTunes for Your Mac

iTunes has lots of great stuff for your Mac. It was inevitable that the iTunes Music Store would become just the iTunes Store because, as you know by now, you can purchase a lot more than just music and then share it on an iPod, iPhone, or iPad.

Books

You can read electronic books on your Mac through the iBooks Store as well as various third-party apps, notably Amazon, whose Kindle for the Mac app is free. (Most of the books aren't free, of course.) Click the Books tab in the iTunes Store to check out the numerous iBook choices Apple makes available, as well as audiobooks.

Audiobooks

You can fetch the iTunes equivalent of books on tape and play them on your Mac, covering a wide range of authors. You can sample 30-second previews as well, but the truth is, audiobooks tend to go on for hours, compared with 3 or 4 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 $2.95; 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.

Capturing podcasts

Podcasts are another form of Internet radio. For one thing, many podcasts go beyond "mere" radio by incorporating video. Moreover, podcasts are downloadable files you can listen to whenever you get around to it.

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 (NPR, USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal), as well as ordinary Joes and Josephines.

Most 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 choosing Podcasts from the Library pop-up menu.

Catching up on Mad Men and Game of Thrones

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¢ 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.

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.

Buying and renting movies

Apple started not only selling motion pictures through iTunes, but also renting them. 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 with restrictions. You have 30 days to start watching, just as with TV-show rentals, but only 24 hours to finish after you've begun playing them.

Movies and TV shows that you purchase inside iTunes are typically saddled by DRM (Digital Rights Management) restrictions that let you play them back on only up to five "authorized" computers.

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

You can watch a movie on your computer, of course. But when you're staying put, you probably want to watch on the widescreen TV in your home theater. Apple sells the aforementioned $99 Apple TV box, which connects to a high-definition TV and wirelessly communicates with your iTunes library to show movies, pictures, and videos and play music through the television.

App Store

If you have an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, you can access a gaggle of nifty programs covering games, news, productivity, social networking, and a whole bunch more. Apple has something north of a million apps, with the vast majority priced at less than $10 and many free. Although you can access the App Store wirelessly on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, you can also get there via iTunes.

Fetching apps from the App Store for your portable devices is very similar to buying Mac apps in the Mac App Store.

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 by a professor at the University of California–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. Click the iTunes U tab in the iTunes Store to enter the Ivy-covered virtual lecture halls of your computer.

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