Digital Music Superguide

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Master the iTunes Music Store

There's more to the iTunes Music Store than just clicking and downloading. Try these tips to make your shopping experience more productive and enjoyable.

Feed Me To keep up-to-date on additions to the Store without opening iTunes, consider adding Apple's RSS (Rich Site Summary) feed to your RSS newsreader. With a reader such as Ranchero Software's free NetNewsWire Lite or its more robust $40 NetNewsWire (www.ranchero.com), you'll know within seconds when Apple adds new tunes and audiobooks to the iTunes Music Store. To personalize an RSS feed, visit the iTunes Music Store RSS Feed Generator (http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZSearch.woa/wa/MRSS/rssGenerator).

Full Preview If you have a slow Internet connection, the Music Store's song previews may stutter or stop. To obtain smooth, uninterrupted playback of your previews, choose Preferences from the iTunes menu, click on the Store button in the resulting window, and enable the Load Complete Preview Before Playing option. This tells iTunes to download the entire preview before playing it back.

The Funny Stuff Before the Music Store began selling Audible audiobooks, it classified comedy recordings in the Spoken Word genre. That genre has vanished, but the recordings haven't. If you'd like to browse the rib-tickling area of the Store, select Power Search from within the Search Music Store box, or go to the Music Store's home page and click on the Power Search link. In the resulting Power Search window, choose Comedy from the Genre pop-up menu and then click on the Search button next to the Composer box.

The Hunt for Honoré When browsing a category within the Store's Audiobooks section -- classics, for example -- you'll discover that it sorts the list of authors by first name. This isn't a terrible burden if you're dealing with modern authors whose first and last names are well known, but pity the high-school student who is unaware that Monsieur Balzac, the 19th-century French journalist and writer, had the first name of Honoré. If you get flummoxed in such situations, use iTunes' Search field.

Smart Shopping If you find it difficult to reign in your spending at the Store, these two tips may help.

Use the Shopping Cart rather than the Command-Click shopping. It's easy to lose track of how much you're spending when you buy songs and albums as you tour the Store. When you pile all your audible goods into the Shopping Cart and view the possibly shocking total, you may be willing to forgo some of your more impulsive purchases. To switch from Command-Click to Shopping Cart, select Preferences from the iTunes menu, click on the Store tab, and enable the Buy Using A Shopping Cart option. (If you're really concerned about impulse buying, consider filling your cart and waiting a day to finalize your purchases.)

Still shocked when you receive your credit card statement? Another way to save money is to budget yourself. Create a second Apple ID, and use it to issue an iTunes Allowance to your original ID. Each Apple ID is linked to a unique e-mail address, not to a credit card number or home address. To perform this trick, you'll need a second e-mail address (for example, another mailbox from your ISP, or a free Yahoo or Hotmail account). Once you've exhausted the allowance, you know you're done for the month. -- cb

Stay in Control Adjusting your iTunes Music Store purchase methode (top) and creating a custom RSS feed for news releases (bottom) are just two ways to make the Store fit your lifestyle.
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