By Tony Bove

You can run iTunes any time (with or without an iPod) to build and manage your library. You don’t have to connect your iPod unless you want to transfer content to it or update or restore the device’s system.

When you first launch iTunes, you see the Welcome screen. You can click the Watch Tutorials link to see movies of iTunes in action. But before continuing, Apple needs to know whether or not you are willing to share details about your iTunes library. Apple uses this information to provide artist images, album cover art, and Genius music suggestions from the iTunes Store. Click Agree to allow Apple to use this information or click No Thanks to skip it.

welcome-itunes
The iTunes Welcome screen.

If you choose No Thanks, you can always change your mind and enable Apple to use this information later by choosing Preferences from the iTunes menu on a Mac or from the Edit menu on a Windows PC, clicking the Store tab, and clicking the check box for the Share Details About Your Library With Apple option.

After clicking Agree (or No Thanks), the iTunes Music screen appears with the Go to the iTunes Store and Scan for Music buttons if you haven’t used iTunes before and have no content in your library. If you’re updating your version of iTunes and you already have content in your library (such as music purchased from the iTunes Store stored in the iCloud service), iTunes displays the Albums screen with album cover art.

itunes music
Start adding music from the iTunes Store or your hard drive.

To add content to your library from the iTunes Store, you can click the Go to the iTunes Store button to go directly to the store and start downloading content.

The OS X and Windows versions of iTunes are nearly identical. The dialogs and icons look a bit different between the two operating systems. Also, OS X shows the iTunes menus at the top of the screen above the iTunes window, while Windows includes the iTunes menus within the iTunes window — some are in the shortcut menu in upper-left corner, and if you choose Show Menu Bar from the shortcut menu, the full iTunes menu bar appears at the top of the iTunes window.

To fill the screen with the iTunes window on a Mac, click the full-screen button in the top-right corner — the pair of diagonal arrows pointing out toward the corners of the screen — or choose View→Enter Full Screen. To leave full-screen mode, hover your Mac’s pointer over the very top of the screen to show the iTunes menus and choose View→Exit Full Screen. You can also press the Control-⌘-F key combination to enter or exit full-screen mode.

To fill the screen with the iTunes window on a Windows PC, use the ever-familiar Windows full-screen button. Click it again to reduce the iTunes window size.

Other differences may affect which version you should use for your library, assuming you have both a Mac and a Windows PC:

  • The Windows version lets you import unprotected Windows Media (WMA) songs.
  • The Mac version, like other iLife applications, can integrate its library directly within iPhoto to use with slide shows, iMovie to include in movies, and GarageBand to mix recorded music with your instruments.