Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video Browsing, part of iTunes 10 Essential Training.
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Now that we have a firm grip on the many ways to get files into your iTunes library, in this chapter we're going to look at several aspects of what you can do with those files, like browsing and searching for music, creating playlists, adjusting how the music sounds when you playback, and several other ways to enjoy your iTunes content. For this chapter I'm going to start with several hundred songs and videos in my iTunes library, and again, for a legal reasons I can't supply any of these as exercise files for these lessons. So you just have to take what you learn here and apply it to your own personal library. But I did want to make sure I had a decent number of songs in here, so we can take a look at the available options for working with them.
First let's talk about the ways we can locate the songs we're looking for. I'm going to stick mainly with my Music library, but the browsing options are more or less the same, regardless of whether you're browsing through music, movies, audio books, or whichever library you're looking at. So if my Music library is selected, I've listing of every single song in my library and I'm currently in my song list view. The most basic way to browse through my library is to simply scroll through it and when scrolling, I like to grab the scroll bar rather than clicking the arrows, since it's much less tedious to drag the bar up and down than it is to constantly click the up and down arrows.
Now right now I'm browsing by artist, and the library is displayed by artist as default, but as you can see, all you need to do is to click on any other column header to sort by that column. So I could sort my songs by song Name, by Album title, or even by the duration. Clicking any selected column a second time reverses the listing. So if you're listing by Artist from A-Z, clicking Artist again will list from Z-A. Let me just scroll up, so you can see the difference there, so you can see XTC is the top on my list now. If I click Artist again, the first artist here now is The Badlees, which starts with B.
Now you can even sort by several additional columns if you like. Under the View menu, you can choose View Options, and from here you can turn on any of these other column options you like. So we have Album, Artist, Bit Rate, Date Modified, Last Played, Last Skipped, and so on and so on. So maybe I want to have the option to sort my albums by Year, and to see when the last time I played the song was. When I click OK, you can see now those columns are available. And bear in mind that these are not just for active sorting of your library.
You may never click Year or Last Played, but instead, just keep them on, so you can easily see this info for each song. To that end you can also drag the columns around, so you don't have to scroll to the right to see the info you're most interested in, if you have columns that go beyond the width of your iTunes window. So maybe I want the Year before the Genre. I just need to drag it over there. Now you can also adjust the width of the columns by placing your cursor between the headers and dragging to the left or to the right. So I just remembered that these columns are available even though you're most likely to browse by artist most of the time. But if you have several hundred songs or even thousands of songs in your iTunes library, scrolling through like this is probably not the best way to quickly find the song you're looking for, especially if you have many songs by the same artist.
For example, I have a lot of songs here by The Jellybricks, and each one of these songs is another line I have to scroll through to get to the next artist. One simple way speeding up your search process in the song list view is to go to the View menu and choose Column Browser > Show Column Browser. And as you can see, this opens a column that just lists the artists in my iTunes collection. Currently, All is selected, so I'm seeing every single song in my collection in the main pane over here, but by selecting an artist in the column browser, that shows me just the songs by that artist.
And it's much easier to browse through the list of artists, than it is to browse through a list of all my songs. You can also go to the View menu > Column Browser and then select other categories like, say Genres or Albums. So now I have the ability to start with a genre, then pick an artist and then an album. Generally, these columns are all you need to efficiently browse for songs, but if you're into classical music, you may also want to turn on the Composers and Groupings options.
Now they're currently grayed up, because I don't have enough space to display them. If that's the case, you can go to the View menu again, Column Browser, and choose On Top, and you can see that it then allows me to choose Composers and Groupings if I prefer. And now my Column Browser only takes up the top portion of my screen, but I can still browse through this quite easily. Now as we saw previously, a new view found in iTunes 10 is Album List view. Now you can see that the column browser still remains in this view. I'm just going to turn that off for the moment by choosing Hide Column Browser.
I'm going to sort this list by Artist here in Album view mode. So now we can see that as long as we have at least five songs from any album, the rtwork for that album will display to the left of the song list. And this is yet another way that you can make it easier to find what you're looking for, if you have the album artwork for most of your music. Sometimes it's just easier to recognize the album's cover than it is to read its name in a list. We also have the option of a Grid view, which we can browse exclusively by album cover with no song lists. Rolling your mouse over any album cover gives you the Play Album button, which when clicked will start playing the album from the beginning, or you can double-click the cover to enter this view and from here you can pick a specific song, or click All Albums to go back to the main grid view.
And the fourth viewing option is the Cover Flow view. In cover flow view, the album artwork is displayed in the pane of the top of the window, and you can scroll through the covers by going left to right to browse through your collection. It's kind of like a jukebox. You can also use the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard to browse through. With each album I select, the songs for that album appears in the pane below. And you can also adjust the size of the two panes by using this handle and moving it up or down. I kind of like to have the top pane a little bit bigger so the artwork shows up larger.
There is even a Full Screen option for Cover Flow view, which we can click here. So you can really appreciate your album artwork as you browse through it, and we can close that again. Now of course for Cover Flow view and for Grid view to be effective, you have to have the artwork for at least a majority of the songs in your library, Otherwise you will just be browsing through a bunch of blank squares. So remember, you can go to the Advanced menu and choose Get Album Artwork, which we looked at previously, to have iTunes try to download and add the artwork to your music.
So those are some of the ways of browsing through your library.
- Using the playback controls
- Setting preferences
- Understanding audio and video file formats
- Importing from a CD
- Managing multiple libraries
- Building playlists and smart playlists
- Creating playlists automatically with Genius
- Shuffling and repeating songs
- Burning discs to share
- Shopping at the iTunes Store
- Managing an iPod