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Basics of iTunes in OS X Mavericks

OS X Maverick’s iTunes is the Swiss Army knife of multimedia software. After all, what other program lets you play audio CDs; create (burn) your own audio or MP3 CDs; listen to MP3, AIFF, AAC, WAV, Audible.com, and several other types of files; view album cover art; enjoy pretty visual displays in time to the music.

You can also view and manage TV shows, movies, and other video files; manage iPods (or other MP3 players), Apple TVs, iPads, and/or iPhones; listen to Internet radio stations; and more? On top of all that, it’s your interface to the iTunes Store, the world’s leading (legitimate) source of downloadable music and video content. (Whew!)

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To open iTunes, click its icon in the Dock or double-click its icon in the Applications folder. The iTunes window opens.

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The Sidebar is one of iTunes most useful navigation tools, but Apple hides it by default. If you don’t see yours, choose View→Show Sidebar or press Command+Option+S. The Column Browser, on the other hand, is optional. Choose View→Column Browser→Show/Hide Column Browser or press Command+B to toggle it on and off.

In a nutshell, whatever you select in the Sidebar on the left is reflected in the content pane on the right. The Music library is selected. At the bottom of the window, you can see that there are 14,222 songs in this Music library, which would take 41 days to listen to from start to finish and uses 125.64GB of space on the hard drive.

Here are notes on a few other items:

  • The iTunes main window shrinks to a much more manageable size when you click the MiniPlayer button. Click the same button on the MiniPlayer to switch back to the main window.

    To switch between the bigger (top) and smaller (middle) MiniPlayer windows, click the thumbnail with the little white arrows in the lower-left corner of the bigger MiniPlayer and on the left side of the smaller MiniPlayer.

    If you’re wondering why there are two tiny MiniPlayer windows in the middle, it’s because the one on the left appears only when you hover over (or click) the MiniPlayer. If you’re not hovering or clicking, you’ll see the one on the right.

    The most recent versions of iTunes offer a way to open the MiniPlayer while leaving the main window onscreen: Choose Window→MiniPlayer or press Command+Option+3. To hide the MiniPlayer, choose Window→Mini Player (again) or press Command+Option+3 (again). Or choose Window→Switch To/Switch From MiniPlayer or use its shortcut Command+ Option+M to toggle between the MiniPlayer and main window.

  • iTunes offers a ten-band graphic equalizer that can make your music (or video) sound significantly better. Just choose Window→Equalizer to invoke it onscreen. You can see the equalizer in the lower part.

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  • Don’t miss the iTunes Visualizer, which offers a groovy light show that dances in time to the music. You turn it on by choosing View→Show Visualizer or pressing Command+T. If you like the default Visualizer, check out some of iTunes’ other built-in Visualizers such as Lathe, Jelly, or Stix, which are available in the Visualizer submenu. Search the web for “iTunes Visualizer” to find even more.

    When you get sick of the Visualizer (as you surely will), just choose View→Hide Visualizer or press Command+T again to make it disappear.

    Try this: Choose View→Full Screen or press Command+F while the Visualizer is running, and the Visualizer takes over your entire screen. Click anywhere on the screen to bring the iTunes window back.

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