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Modifying Songs in iTunes

1 of 7 in Series: The Essentials of iTunes

Although iTunes was never meant to be a song editing application, it offers a simple control over the starting and stopping points for playing back a song. You can use this feature to cut out unwanted intros and outros of a song, such as announcers and audience applause. You can also use it in conjunction with the Convert feature to split a track into multiple tracks.

Setting the start and stop points in a song

iTunes will play only a portion of a song if you specify start and stop times within the song. To set the start and/or stop points in a song, select the song and choose File, Get Info; then click Options to show the dialog that lets you specify the start and stop times.

Click inside the Start Time field to set the start time. Click inside the Stop Time field to set the stop time. The time is in minutes, seconds, and hundredths of a second (decimal) — 8:15.978 is 8 minutes and 15.978 seconds.

To determine with accuracy the time for the start and stop points, play the song and look in the Status pane at the top-center part of the iTunes window for the Elapsed Time. You can drag the slider in the Status pane to move quickly through the song and find the exact times for the start and stop points you want to set. Note: If you click Elapsed Time in the Status pane, it toggles to Remaining Time; click it again for Total Time, and click it once more to see Elapsed Time again.

iTunes plays only the part of the song between the start and stop times. You can use this feature to your advantage because when you convert the song, iTunes converts only the part of the song between the start and stop times.

Splitting a track into multiple tracks

You might have a CD that was created with all the songs combined into one track, or you might have recorded an entire side of a vinyl record or cassette tape into one sound file. Either way, you probably want to separate the songs into separate tracks in iTunes.

The best way to split a long track into smaller tracks is to open the sound file in a sound editing program that lets you select sections and save them separately, such as CD Spin Doctor or Sound Studio.

You can also separate a track into smaller tracks in iTunes, as long as you use the AIFF format at first. Follow these steps:

1. Before ripping a CD or importing a sound file, set the encoder in your importing preferences to AIFF.

Choose iTunes, Preferences on a Mac/Edit, Preferences on a Windows PC. Click Importing, and set your Importing encoder to AIFF (full quality).

2. Rip the CD track into iTunes or import an AIFF sound file into iTunes.

Because you set the importing preferences to AIFF, the CD track is imported into iTunes as AIFF at full quality. You want to do this because you're going to convert it in iTunes later, and you need the uncompressed version to convert. Use a song name to identify this track as a long track with multiple tracks — for example, call it side one or something like that.

3. Change your Importing preferences to AAC or MP3.

Choose iTunes, Preferences on a Mac/Edit, Preferences on a Windows PC. Click Importing, and set your Importing encoder to AAC or MP3. Now you're ready to convert the song segments from the long track.

4. Select the song in iTunes and choose File, Get Info.

The song information dialog appears.

5. Click Options to show the Start Time and Stop Time fields.

You can set the start and stop times for the song.

6. Define the Start Time and Stop Time for the first song in the long track.

Play the song and look in the Status pane at the top-center part of the iTunes window for the Elapsed Time. You can drag the slider in the Status pane to move quickly through the song and find the exact times for the start and stop points you want to set. For example, if the first song were exactly 3 minutes and 12 seconds, you would define the first section to start at 0:00 and play to 3:12.

7. Convert the defined segment of the long track from AIFF to AAC or MP3.

Select the long track (side one) and choose Advanced, Convert Selection to AAC (or Advanced, Convert Selection to MP3 if you chose the MP3 encoder in Step 6). iTunes converts only the section of the song defined by the Start Time and Stop Time fields that you set in Step 5, and creates a new song track in the AAC or MP3 format (depending on your choice in Step 3). iTunes converts the uncompressed AIFF segment into the compressed AAC or MP3 format.

8. Change the song name of the newly converted track to the actual song name.

The converted section of the long track still has the same name (side one). Change its name by clicking inside the song name in the iTunes song list, or by choosing File, Get Info, clicking the Info tab, and clicking inside the Name field. You can also enter a track number in the Track field. The converted song starts and stops as you specified in Step 5; because it's also converted to AAC or MP3, it's ready for use in your iTunes library and in your iPod.

9. Repeat Steps 4 through 8 for each song segment.

10. When finished, delete the long track in AIFF format.

Delete the long track (side one) by selecting it and pressing Delete/Backspace. You don't need it anymore if you converted all the segments to separate songs.

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