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Buy Digital Media through the iTunes Store

The hottest spot on the Internet for buying music and video is the iTunes Store, which you can reach from the cozy confines of iTunes, right from your MacBook. (That is, as long as you have an Internet connection.) Click the iTunes Store item in the Source list, and after a few moments you’re presented with the latest offerings.

Click a link in the store list to browse according to media type, or click the Power Search link to search by song title, artist, album, or composer. The Back/Forward buttons at the top of the iTunes Store window operate much the same as those in Safari, moving you backward or forward in sequence through pages you’ve already seen.

Clicking the Home button (which, through no great coincidence, looks like a miniature house) takes you back to the Store’s main page.

To display the details on a specific album, track, video, podcast, or audiobook (whew), just click it. If you’re interested in buying just certain tracks (for that perfect road warrior mix), you get to listen to 90 seconds of any track — for free, no less, and at full sound quality.

To add an item to your iTunes Store shopping cart, click the Add Song/Movie/Album/Video/Podcast/Audiobook button (sheesh!). When you’re ready to buy, click the Shopping Cart item in the Source list and then click the Buy Now button. (At the time of this writing, tracks are usually 99 cents a pop, and an entire album is typically $9.99 . . . what a bargain!)

The iTunes Store creates an account for you based on your e-mail address, and it keeps secure track of your credit card information for future purchases. After you use the iTunes Store once, you rarely have to log in or retype your credit card information again (as long as you’re logged in using your account).

The tracks and files that you download are saved to a separate playlist called Purchased. After the download is finished, you can play them, copy them to other playlists, burn them to CD or DVD, share ’em over your network, or ship them to your iOS devices using iCloud, just as you can any other item in your iTunes Library.

You can also put the Genius button to work for you, in league with the iTunes store. Click the Show Genius Sidebar button at the lower-right corner of the iTunes window — it looks like an arrow inside a square — and iTunes displays the Genius Sidebar, where iTunes recommends music that you can buy on the iTunes Store that’s similar to the albums in your Music Library.

Click the button again to banish the sidebar.

With the arrival of Apple’s iCloud sync feature, iTunes can automatically download the media you purchase on another iOS device (that includes another Mac, a PC running Vista or Windows 7, your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch). To set up automatic downloading, click iTunes→Preferences to open the Preferences dialog; then click the Store tab.

After you’ve signed in to the iTunes Store, you can choose to download music, app, or book purchases, and you have the option to check for new downloads automatically. Click OK to save your changes.

Remember all those skeptics who claimed that buying digital audio and video could never work over the Internet because of piracy issues and high costs? Well, hats off to Apple: Once again, your favorite technology leader has done something the right way!

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