Working with iTunes – Part 2 of 3 (browsing and playing music)

continuing series of how to articles for iTunes software. This installment tells how to browse and play music.

How to Play Your Music

Once you have imported your favorite songs from the CD or have purchased them from the iTunes Music Store, you now have them in your library for you to play and listen to. With iTunes, you can just sit back, relax, and listen to your great music collection.

Once you have iTunes open, choose Library from the Source list to show all the songs in your library. Just select the song you want to listen to and click on the Play button on the upper left hand corner. If you want to adjust the volume, you can do so with the volume slider control just below the playback buttons.

With the iTunes display on the upper middle portion of the screen, you can see the title of the song currently playing, elapsed time, and a timeline. If you want to skip to a specific portion of the song, you can just click on any point on the timeline. If you want to skip to the next song, instead, you can do so by clicking on the Fast Forward button beside the Play button.

If you do not want to just listen to the song, you also have an option to “see” it. iTunes has a Music Visualizer which synchronizes with the song’s rhythm. You will surely enjoy this full-color light show while listening to your favorite music. If you want this Music Visualizer on, just go to Visualizer menu and click on Turn Visualizer On. To view your music library again, go back to the Visualizer menu and choose Turn Visualizer Off. Alternatively, you can quickly turn on and off the Music Visualizer with the Music Visualizer button on the bottom of the window just beside the Eject button.

You can also customize how the visualizer looks. You can choose a full screen size or opt for a much smaller window by resizing it. While the Music Visualizer window is playing, you can just press on the H key on your Mac keyboard to customize the window more.

For a real great listening experience, you can choose to connect a pair of high-end powered speakers to your Mac. With the use of an adapter cable, usually a mini-to-stereo RCA splitter cable, you can attach a home stereo system to your computer or iPod and enjoy to the great sound of your favorite music.

How to Browse and Search for Files in Your iTunes Library

Sometimes we feel the urge to some particular music. There are also times that we don’t know exactly what we want to listen to. Having hundreds or even thousands of music in your computer may be too overwhelming. With iTunes, browsing the music library and choosing the exact song you want to listen to is just an easy task.

If you want to browse the music library, choose Library in the Source list then click on the Browse button on the upper right hand side of the window. You will then have an Artist and Albums list. Just choose your desired artist from the Artist list and it will show the different albums of that artist that are in your music library. Choose the desired album to play and click on the Browse button again to return to your iTunes library where it shows the different songs included in the album selected.

Browsing by genre is also possible. To do so, go to the iTunes menu then select Preferences. Click on the icon labeled General and choose “Show genre when browsing,” and click OK. Once you click on the Browse button again, you will now see the list of different genre such as Pop, Rock, Country, Hip Hop, Jazz, etc, in the browsing pane to the left of the Artist list.

If you cannot see the whole album title or name of the artist from the browsing pane, you can adjust the right side of the pane. Just hover the mouse on the line separating the columns and it will change to a double-sided arrow. You can now adjust the line to the left or right to narrow or expand the viewing window, respectively.

On the other hand, if you know exactly the song you want to listen to and want to search for it, you can also do that easily with iTunes. Notice on the upper portion of the window, there is a search icon and a search box. Type the name of the song or just a part of it in the search box. Notice that with each word you type, the list populates more songs that somehow match your search criteria.

When you make a search, iTunes checks the Song Name, Artist, Composers and Albums fields. If you want an exact search, you can choose a category from where iTunes will do the search. You can do this by clicking on the search icon and select the desired category then type the search criteria in the field or search box. After making a search, you can go back to the iTunes library by clicking on the gray-and-white icon in the search field.

In the case that you upgraded iTunes from Mac OS 9 to the new iTunes 4 with Mac OS X, your music from the previous version may not be stored in the same place where the new version stores the files. It would be tedious to search for your desired song if your music are not found in a single location. To consolidate all your music files into just one folder, go to Advanced menu and select Consolidate Library.

iTunes also allows you to see how much hard disk space your music library has already consumed. When you have the Library selected from the Source list, you will see the total number of files you already have, their total running time, and the total combined file size of all the songs at the bottom portion of the iTunes window.