How to Set Up and Use Genius with iTunes in Mac OS X Lion

The Genius is an iTunes feature that lets you find new music — in your iTunes library in Mac OS X Lion or the iTunes Store — that’s related to a song of your choosing. Or, as the Genius splash screen you see when you turn the Genius on puts it, “Genius makes playlists and mixes from songs in your library that go great together. And the Genius sidebar recommends music from the iTunes Store that you don’t already have.”

To get started, in OS X Lion iTunes choose Store→Turn On Genius, if you haven’t done so already. When you’ve finished reading, the Genius splash screen appears; click the Turn On Genius button in the bottom-right corner.

Turning Genius on sends information about your iTunes library to Apple. There’s a Learn More button on the What Is Genius screen if you want to learn more about it.

To use Genius, you must (for some unknown reason) have an iTunes Store account, even though the information the Genius sends to Apple about your iTunes library is stored anonymously. And even though no purchase is required, that’s the way it works, take it or leave it.

Assuming you take it, sign into your iTunes Store account if you have one or create one if you don’t. After agreeing to the Genius Terms of Service the Genius gathers info about your iTunes library, sends the info to Apple, and then (finally) delivers your results. When all this is done, you can create Genius playlists and use the Genius sidebar.

How? Glad you asked! Click a song in your Library and then click the Start Genius button in the bottom-right corner of iTunes main window. After a bit of cogitation, iTunes presents you with its Genius selections based on the song you clicked. Here, the song was Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones, and the Genius suggested What Is and What Shall Never Be by Led Zeppelin, Keep Talking by Pink Floyd, and twenty-two other songs.

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If you’re not a fan of British Invasion rock music, let me assure you that most of the songs in the Genius playlist pretty much do “go great together.” If you don’t have issues with all the legal mumbo jumbo, the iTunes Store account, or sending information about your iTunes library to Apple, give the Genius a try.

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