Bugs & Fixes: Two iTunes tips

Sometimes the solution to a problem is right in front of you. You just have to take the time to notice it—or at least find out about it. Such was the case for me with two separate iTunes-related matters.

The missing artist

I connected my iPhone to iTunes and went to the Artists listing in the iPhone’s Music tab. Much to my surprise, the artist I intended to select did not appear in the list. I confirmed that the artist’s songs were still in my iTunes Library on my Mac. So why wasn’t the musician showing up on the iPhone’s list? Searching the Web, I located the answer at an iTunes & iPod Hints & Tips Web page.

It turns out that, if the “Part of a compilation” option is enabled for an album, the music from that album does not affect the iPhone’s Artists list. As a consequence, if the only music you have for a particular artist is from a compilation album, that artist will not appear in the Artists list at all.

If the ‘Part of a compilation’ option is enabled for an album in iTunes, music from that album won’t affect the iPhone’s Artists list.

This can make some sense—I suppose—for an album that consists of a collection of songs by different artists (compiled from other original albums)—especially if the artists in the compilation album are listed only as “Various Artists.” My problem, however, was with a “greatest hits” album where the music was all by the same artist. It clearly made no sense for this artist to be omitted from my iPhone’s Artists list.

Happily, the solution is simple and what you might expect:

  1. In iTunes, highlight all the songs for the compilation album, select Get Info (via Command-I or the command in the File menu)
  2. From the Options tab, change the “Part of a compilation” option to “No.” Click OK.

After I did this, the missing artist showed up in the iPhone’s Artist list.

Note: If you select Get Info for a single song, the Compilation option is located at the bottom of the Info tab rather than in the Options tab.

Book file clutter

In iTunes, there’s a big difference between an audiobook (as you might purchase from audible.com) and a book on CD (as you might purchase from Borders). The former imports as one file (or as a very small number of files) that encompasses the entire book. With the latter, each disc typically contains several dozen small file segments (often with meaningless sequential names like 2a, 2b 2c). For a book that spans 10 CDs, you might have to import hundreds of small files to get the entire book in iTunes.

Having all of these files in your iTunes Library winds up being an annoying source of clutter. Most notably, it can make it difficult to keep track of where you currently are in your book listening. Were you last at 3c or 4f or 4j or what?

Fortunately, there’s a wonderfully effective solution:

  1. Insert a CD and wait for it to appear in iTunes. If you get the message asking if you would “like to import the CD,” say “No.”
  2. Choose Select All (Command-A) for the contents of the CD.
  3. Select “Join CD Tracks” from iTunes’ Advanced menu. Warning: You cannot select this for a book already in iTunes; you must do it before you import a CD.
  4. Now click the Import CD button.

The result is that all the files on the CD will be combined into just one file in iTunes! This means that the number of files for an entire book will equal only the number of CDs for the book. This is a much more manageable number. You can easily give meaningful titles to the files, as needed. Put all of a books’ files in sequential order in a playlist to further assist in keeping track.

Having done this, you’ll also want to be able to keep track of where within each file you last left off. You can accomplish this after completing the import: Select Get Info for all the files in a book and then select Yes from the “Remember position” popup menu in the Options tab.

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