Understand more tags

Our November 2007 Playlist column offered insight into some of iTunes’ more confusing tags. Here are two other tags that you may want some help with.

Shuffle or not?

Both the iPod and iTunes can shuffle your music: select Shuffle Songs on the iPod and let chance be your playlist, or use iTunes’ Shuffle command or Party Shuffle feature for home listening at random ( see more on Party Shuffle). Even if you like using the shuffle feature, there are certain tracks you definitely don’t want popping up in the middle of a random listening session—podcasts or other spoken word tracks, but also perhaps certain types of music. Most classical music does not lend itself to listening this way; do you really want to hear a random movement of a string quartet after a Beatles song?

You can omit certain kinds of tracks by setting the Skip When Shuffling tag. Select Skip When Shuffling in the Options tab of the Info window for single tracks, or select Yes from the Skip When Shuffling menu in the Multiple Item Information window. This keeps iTunes or the iPod from playing tracks when they’re doing a full shuffle, but it also has other effects. Tracks with this tag won’t play in any playlist you’ve set to shuffle. They also won’t load on an iPod shuffle via Autofill (though you can add them manually). To listen to these tracks on an iPod shuffle, you need to set the device to play them in order; otherwise, none of them will play on the iPod shuffle.

Keep your videos where you want

When you import your own videos to iTunes—those you haven’t purchased from the iTunes Store—they appear by default in your Movies library. If they are TV shows or music videos, you can change a video tag to tell iTunes where to put them. Select a video, press ~~-I, then click on the Video tab (you can’t change this tag for multiple items at once). From the Video Kind menu, select Movie, TV Show, or Music Video. If you select Movie, the video stays in your Movies library; TV Show puts the video in the TV Shows library; and Music Videos puts the video in your Music library. However, you’ll need to make sure you add an artist, an album, and perhaps a genre so music videos show up where you can find them. (You can always use the smart playlist that iTunes displays when you first launch it, which looks for music videos—if you’ve deleted this playlist, create a new smart playlist set to Video Kind Is Music Video.)

You can further refine your TV shows by adding a show title, a season number, an episode number, and an episode ID in the same Videos tab. For movies and music videos, you can add such information, but the Movies and Music libraries won’t use it. To add that extra data, try an external tagging application such as James Huston’s free Parsley is Atomically Delicious (   ).

On a video-capable iPod (or an iPhone), all three of these tags are useful: select the Videos menu and you’ll see submenus for Movies, Music Videos, and TV Shows (as well as Video Podcasts on the iPod, or Podcasts if you have any loaded on an iPhone), so you can find all your videos even if you haven’t set any other tags.

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