Create CD Inserts in iTunes

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[ Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from The Macintosh iLife ’04 by Jim Heid (2004; reprinted by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., publishing as Peachpit Press). ]

The iPod and iTunes are great, but sometimes you still need a CD. Maybe you want to listen to music compilations on a long car trip. Or maybe you’re backing up the albums you bought from the iTunes Music Store (a good idea, by the way). The problem is, all store-bought CD-Rs look pretty much the same: boring.

To give your burned CDs more panache—and to clarify what’s on each one—why not print an insert that slides into the disc’s jewel case? You won’t even need to switch programs. Apple includes printing features in iTunes 4.6 that let you do this and more.

When printing a case insert from iTunes, you can choose from a variety of designs called themes. Some themes take advantage of the album artwork that accompanies Music Store downloads. You can even put your own artwork on a jewel-case insert with a few clicks of the mouse. CD inserts are also a great way to produce a hard-copy reference of your music library and favorite playlists.

Finding CD Artwork

iTunes can store album artwork—for example, an image of the CD cover—along with your music. The artwork is embedded into a music file itself, so if you move the file to another Mac, the art moves with it.

Music that you buy from the iTunes Music Store usually has artwork. To display it, click on the Show/ Hide Artwork button in the lower left corner of the iTunes window (see screenshots). From the Artwork pane, you can specify how iTunes displays images, choose between multiple images (if there’s more than one), or even add new images.

But what about all the songs in your library that don’t have artwork? If you’d like to add art to them, you have several options. Some free utilities will search for and retrieve artwork over the Internet; I use Fetch Art, by Yoel Inbar. Like other artwork utilities, it looks up the name of an album on and then retrieves the artwork from Amazon’s site. (For more artwork-related utilities, go here.)

Modify Artwork Settings

You can also view and modify a song’s artwork via the Song Information dialog box. Select a song in iTunes, choose Get Info from the File menu (or press Command-I), and then click on the Artwork option.

As I mentioned, songs can contain more than one image. But keep in mind that each image increases the size of your music file, thus leaving less free space on your hard drive and iPod.

To import a new image into the list, click on Add. To delete an unwanted image, select it and click on Delete.

When creating a jewel-case insert, iTunes uses the first image listed in the Artwork Information dialog box. If you have multiple images listed there, you can rearrange their order by dragging them left and right. To use a specific image in a jewel-case insert, drag it so it’s the first image in the list.

You can also print your own artwork—for example, a photo from your iPhoto library—on a jewel-case insert. First, add the image to a song. (For a photo, simply drag it from the iPhoto window to the Artwork area in the Song Information dialog box.) Drag the image so it’s the first one in the list; then print. To reduce the size of the song file, delete the image after printing.

Printing a Jewel-Case Insert

Step 1 Select a playlist in the Source area, and then choose Print from the File menu.

Step 2 Click on the CD Jewel Case Insert option (see “Instant Art”). You’ll also see options here for printing several types of song and album lists.

Next, choose an album design from the Theme pull-down menu. If your playlist contains songs from multiple albums, you can use the Mosaic themes to produce a collage of album art. Want to use just one album’s art for the cover? Select the playlist song containing that art before choosing Print.

Step 3 Click on Page Setup and adjust the settings for your printer as needed. Click on OK to return to the Print dialog box, and then click on Print.

Step 4 Once it’s printed, trim the case insert using the crop marks at the edge of the image as a guide.

Sidebar: Powerful Playlist Tricks

With iTunes playlists, you can mix and match songs in any way you see fit. You can add a song to as many playlists as you like, or even create a playlist that plays one song five times in a row. After you’ve created your playlists, you can, of course, play them. But you can also transfer them to an iPod or burn them to create your own compilation CDs.

Here are some lesser-known tricks for working with playlists in iTunes 4.6.

Open a Playlist in a Separate Window To open a playlist in its own window, double-click on the empty space to the right of its name. iTunes opens the playlist in a new window and switches its main window to the Library view. You can open as many playlist windows as you like, and then you can simply drag songs between them. This is a handy way to work, since it lets you see the contents of your library and your playlist at the same time.

Create a Shopping List In iTunes 4.5 and later, you can drag a song preview from the Music Store into a playlist. This can be a handy way to put together a temporary shopping list. To help you tell a preview from a full-length song, iTunes displays a 30-second marker (:30) adjacent to a preview song’s name.

Create a Playlist from a Selection Here’s a shortcut for creating a playlist: in the Library view, select the songs you want to include in a playlist, and then go to File: New Playlist From Selection. iTunes will add the songs to a new playlist, which you can then rename.

Name Playlists with an iPod in Mind If you plan to transfer your playlists to an iPod, here’s a trick you can use to ensure that a given playlist will appear at the top of the iPod’s Playlists menu. Precede the playlist’s name with a hyphen (-) or a period (.)—for example, “- Mac’s Greatest Hits.” This cuts down on the time and scrolling required to find a specific playlist.

See Where You’ve Used Songs Curious about which playlists contain a particular song? Control-click on the song’s name to bring up the contextual menu. Under the Playlists submenu, you’ll see a list of all playlists containing the selected song. To jump to a specific playlist, select its name from the Playlists submenu (see screenshot).

From CD to Playlist in One Drag You’re about to rip an audio CD and you’d like to add some of its tracks to a playlist. Here’s a shortcut: simply drag the tracks from the CD list to the playlist. iTunes will import the tracks and add them to the playlist for you.

1) To switch the artwork between the currently playing song and the currently selected song, click Selected Song. 2) Clicking on the little arrows displays the next or previous image associated with a song. 3) To add a new image to the currently selected song, drag the image into the window. 4) To see album art for a particular song, click on the Show/Hide Artwork button in the iTunes window.Create a theme for your jewel-case insert...... by going to the Print dialog box. iTunes adds crop marks to the edges of the finished image to help you get a perfect cut.Want to see every playlist that includes a particular song? Just control-click on the song and select Playlists.
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