Tips for Using iTunes : Beginner Guide

If you are new to using iTunes like me, you may be puzzled over some of the features, especially if you are trying to set up a music library on a different computer and need to transfer your music over to it.  Here are a few tips to get you started.

Setting Up iTunes on Your iPod Shuffle

The first time you plug in the Shuffle with the supplied USB cable after installing iTunes, the Setup Assistant should open and guide you through the process of naming and setting up your Shuffle, and synchronising it with your iTunes library. The Summary information screen is shown and if you left the option selected for automatic synchronising (which is turned on), that goes ahead.

You can scan your computer for existing music to add it to the iTunes library, or download music from the iTunes store. iTunes only recognises certain file formats, so you cannot use WMA files, for example. Also, if you have CDs which permit you to copy the music tracks, iTunes will import them into its library.

Always observe copyright rules when seeking to copy music.

Summary Information

When the set-up process finishes, you should leave your iPod attached for a while to allow it to finish charging. While it is doing this, you can check what music is on your iPod. To do so, click the left-hand part of the on-screen iPod button which appears in the top right of the iTunes window. The Summary view will be displayed.

The buttons that appear on this Summary are pretty self explanatory: Summary, Music and On This iPod. The Music button allows you to sync iTunes with your player in future, either your entire library or just tracks you select, so that you don’t have to copy the whole library every time you add something.

Moving Between Computers

Do beware if you switch your iPod Shuffle around between computers or if you get a new computer. If you allow it to sync with a different computer that has an empty iTunes library, iTunes will zap everything off your iPod. It does ask if you’re sure you want to remove existing music and audiobooks from this iPod and sync with this iTunes library, but if you don’t realise what that means and click ‘Remove and Sync’, the Shuffle will be wiped. Or if some tracks are in the library and others aren’t, the ones missing from this library will be deleted from the iPod.

So before trying to use your Shuffle with another computer, make sure the library on the new computer is in step with the library that the Shuffle previously synchronised with. You can transfer music from the first computer using your iPod, and there are articles on how to do this, such as the one I used. You can even buy software that will do it for you if you are not confident delving around in the Windows or Mac operating system.

In practice, I’ve been able to do this without too much trouble though I admit there was not a lot of music on my iPod so I didn’t have to keep wiping its disk and adding more music in between.

When doing a transfer, you must turn on two options shown in the Advanced tab in iTunes preferences: Keep iTunes Media folder organised and Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library.

The first one puts the music into a sensible folder structure and the second one actually copies the music to the computer’s hard disk instead of just indexing it from the Shuffle. That’s VERY important!

Safely Disconnecting the iPod

Before disconnecting the Shuffle from a computer, click the upward pointing icon that looks like a triangle resting on top of a plinth. This forms the right-hand part of the onscreen iPod button which appears in the top right-hand corner of the iTunes screen. Clicking this ejects the player safely, so that no damage is done to its internal disk.

It is especially important to do this if the tiny orange light on top of the player beside the plugged in USB cable is blinking on and off.