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Play Digital Audio and Video with iTunes on Your MacBook

In addition to playing audio CDs, iTunes on your MacBook can play the digital audio files that you download from the Internet or obtain from other sources in the WAV, AAC, Apple Lossless, AIFF, MP2 and MP3 file formats. Enjoying a digital audio file is just slightly more complicated than playing a CD.

After downloading or saving your audio files to your MacBook, open the Finder and navigate to wherever you stored the files. Then simply drag the music files (or an entire folder of music) from the Finder into the Music entry in the iTunes Source list.

(The added files appear in the Music section of your iTunes Library. Think of the Library as a master list of your digital media. To view the Music Library, select the Music entry in the left-hand column of the iTunes player. Go figure.)

Heck, you can also drag a song file from a Finder window and drop it on the iTunes icon in the Dock, which adds it to your Music Library as well.

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If you drop the file on top of a playlist name in the Source list, iTunes adds it to that particular playlist as well as the main Library. (More about playlists in a bit.)

To play a song, just double-click it in the Music list. Alternatively, you can use the playback controls (Play, Previous Song, and Next Song).

The Source list of iTunes can list up to eight possible sources for music:

  • Library: This section includes Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, Books, iTunes U, Apps (for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad), Ringtones (for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad), iPod Games, and Radio.

    In case you haven’t heard of iTunes U yet, it’s a separate section of the iTunes Store where you can download professional-quality educational media, including lectures, films, course materials and films. Virtually everything is free, too!

  • Devices: If an iPod is connected, it appears in the list. (And yes, Virginia, other models of MP3 players from other companies will also appear in the list if they support iTunes.)

  • Genius: Click the Genius heading and click the Turn On Genius button to allow iTunes to automatically create playlists from songs in your iTunes music library. You can also allow Genius to recommend music, movies, and TV shows based on the titles you already have in your iTunes Library.

  • Audio CD: Load a standard audio CD, and it appears under the Devices heading . . . anything from the Bee Gees to Fall Out Boy.

  • Store

  • Shared: If another Mac on your local network is running iTunes and is set to share part or all of its library, you can connect to the other computer for your music. (Shared music on another Mac appears as a separate named folder in the Source list.)

  • Home Sharing: You can turn on Home Sharing to share your Mac’s media library across your wireless network with up to five other computers (PCs and Macs), as well as devices like iPhones, iPads and the iPhone touch.

  • Playlists: Think of playlists as folders you use to organize your music.

Notice also that the Library lists information for each song that you add to it, such as

  • Song Name

  • Time

  • Artist

  • Album

If some of the songs that you’re adding don’t display anything for the title, album, or artist information, don’t panic; most MP3 files have embedded data that iTunes can read. If a song doesn’t include any data, you can always add the information to these fields manually.

Clicking any of the column headings in the Library list causes iTunes to reorder the Library according to that category. For example, clicking the Song Name column heading alphabetizes your Library by song title. You can drag column titles to reorder them any way you like (as long as the Name column remains at the far left of the named columns).

iTunes can display your Music Library in four ways: By default, the application uses the list view, where each song is one entry. A click of the second View button sorts your library into tracks by album.

Click the third View button (at the top of the iTunes window) to group tracks together by album artwork in grid view. Click the fourth View button, and you’re browsing by album cover in cover flow view, complete with reflective surface!

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