Make it even easier to add media to iTunes

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While the new Tunes 9 feature that automatically adds media to iTunes is pretty easy to use already—just drop an iTunes-compatible media folder on the Automatically Add to iTunes folder in your iTunes folder, and you’re done. But in case you’re looking to make it even easier, here are a couple of hints that do just that.

First, if you’d rather not navigate to that folder every time you want to use it, simply make an alias to it, then put the alias wherever you want. Highlight the original folder in the Finder, then select File -> Make Alias (or press Command-L) to create the alias. Drag the alias to your user’s Documents folder (or wherever), then drag and drop it to the Dock, or the Finder’s toolbar or sidebar for easy access from nearly anywhere in the system.

Second, if you’re running Snow Leopard, here’s another alternative: Create a new Service that moves the select file or files to the Automatically Add to iTunes folder. If you wish, you can then create a keyboard shortcut for this Service, meaning you can add media to iTunes via the keyboard. Don’t worry, this is about the simplest Service you can possibly create, as it will have but one step.

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Open Automator (in Applications), and select Service from the template chooser dialog that appears. This will open a blank document for you to work in. Near the top of the right-hand side of the window, set the two pop-ups to “files or folders” and “Finder”—this will limit your Service to only working in the Finder, and only when you have files or folders selected.

Now it’s time to make the only decision necessary for this Service: do you want to copy your media files into the iTunes folder, or just move them there.

Either way, you’ll find your action of choice in the Files & Folders Actions library, so start by selecting Files & Folders in the leftmost column.

Next, drag either Copy Finder Items or Move Finder Items into the work area on the right. I chose to use the copy action—if something goes wrong, my original files will still be there.

The super-simple 'Add to iTunes' Service
In the Move or Copy action, click the To pop-up and select Other from the list. When the file dialog appears, navigate into your Music folder (or the folder where you store your iTunes music), and then drill down into the iTunes Music folder, click once on the Automatically Add to iTunes folder, then click Choose.

That’s it; you’re done with the Service. Save it, using a simple, short name (as it will be used in the Services menu); I named mine Add to iTunes. If you don’t care about using the keyboard, you can put your new Service to work by selecting a media file (or more than one) in the Finder, then Control-clicking on the selection and picking Service -> Add to iTunes from the contextual menu. (You should do this even if you’re going to use a keyboard shortcut, just to make sure your Service is working.)

To make your Service usable via the keyboard, open the Keyboard System Preferences panel, then click on Keyboard Shortcuts. In the left-hand column, select Services, then scroll down to the Files and Folders section in the right-hand column. Find your newly-created service, then click in the empty space to the right of its name. You can now enter a keyboard shortcut, though it can be tricky to find a key combination that works in the Finder. I’ve had the best luck with Command-Control combinations. If you try one and find it’s not working, change it to another combination and try again.

As shown in this example, Services in Snow Leopard don’t need to be complex in order to accomplish useful results. With but one command, you’ve created a Service that lets you add media files, either via the Services menu, or by using a keyboard shortcut.

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