iOS device syncing in iTunes 11, audiobook lengths, and listening in mono

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Disoriented by iTunes 11’s new way of syncing iOS devices? Confused by the different lengths of audiobooks with the same titles? Curious about how to make a list of the books in your iTunes library? Interested in listening to your audio in mono, instead of stereo? I have the answers to all these questions in this week’s column.

Q: I have updated to iTunes 11 and it is so different I can’t find my way around it. Where is the button that gives the information about my device? I am unable to find it, or to sync my photos to my computer to my iPhone. Where did the photos sync option go?

The thing that seems to have thrown iTunes users the most with the latest update is the way you access an iPhone or other iOS device to change its sync settings. In iTunes 10 and earlier, iOS devices would show up in a sidebar at the left of the iTunes window. iTunes 11 removes this sidebar by default; however, you can bring it back by choosing View > Show Sidebar, or by pressing Command-Option-S.

That button at the top-right of the iTunes window gives you access to sync settings for your device(s)

If the sidebar is visible, you’ll see your iPhone in the same location as before, under Devices. If you don’t display the sidebar, however, you need to look at the top-right of the iTunes window for either a button that displays the name of your device, or one that reads, say, 2 Devices, if you have two iOS devices connected. Click that button (or with multiple devices, click the button, then click your device from the pop-up menu) to access your device’s settings. From there, things are mostly as they were before.

Q: Why are some audiobooks on iTunes longer then others. Some versions of The Count of Monte Cristo are 50 hours while others are 50 minutes.

Audiobooks come in two flavors: abridged and unabridged. The costs associated with creating audiobooks—making cassette tapes or CDs back before audiobooks became digital, for example—lead publishers to abridge books (make them shorter). To some of us, however, abridged books are a heresy. The Count of Monte Cristo is a good example—in a paperback edition in the original French, it’s about 1500 pages, and cutting out bits and pieces (or entire chapters) would ruin the story.

Look for the word "Unabridged" if you want to buy a full, uncut book.

Abridged books may work for non-fiction, where (let’s be honest) many books have enough fluff that you won’t notice the cuts. But for novels, I’d stick with unabridged books. They’re a bit more expensive, because of the recording time needed, but at least you’ll get the entire story.

Q: I want to make a list of all the books in my iTunes library. When I select Books in my library and choose Export by right-clicking, iTunes comes up with a dialog for saving my file as books.txt. When I look in that file it is empty; it contains a header, but none of none of my books. When I do the same with my music iTunes produce a file with all my music in it. How can I make a list of my books?

Here's what a book list looks like in Excel.

You’re right, that doesn’t work very well. Here’s how you can make a list of the contents of any of your libraries (Music, Books, Movies, and so on). Click a library to display its contents. Choose File > Library > Export Playlist, then choose the name of the file, its location, and its type. You can choose, for example, Plain Text if you just want a simple list. You can then import this file into a spreadsheet or database program, such as Microsoft Excel or Apple’s Numbers, which will allow you to sort your content. When you do this, there will be a header showing the different tags—Name, Author, and so on—and a series of lines for each item.

When you do so for books, however, only audiobooks get added to the list; this is why you only get a header in your file. iTunes doesn’t think that ebooks are part of the “playlist.” To get a list of ebooks, select them all (in your Books library, press Command-A), then copy them (Command-C). If you then paste this into Excel, or into a text editor (Apple’s TextEdit must be in Plain Text mode, not Rich Text), you’ll get a list. If you paste it into programs that are not in Plain Text mode, however, you’ll paste the actual files, which you don’t want to do.

(Your iOS device can play back audio in mono, if you adjust this setting.

Q: I have no hearing in my right ear. I listen to music on my MacBook Pro, my iMac, my iPad, my iPod touch, and two or three older iPods. Also, I’ve started using iTunes Match to help with my 12,000 to 15,000 tunes collection. In the past I would rip my music in monaural so that all the music comes to the one ear that’s listening. Any suggestion? Many older folks, like me, have hearing problems and are limited to monaural hearing.

If you match your music with iTunes Match, the downloaded files will be in stereo, hence your problem. With an iOS device—iPhone, iPad or iPad touch—it’s easy to get around this, however. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility, then to the Hearing section. Tap the Mono Audio slider to move it to the On position.

With a Mac, you can also turn on a similar setting. Go to System Preferences, click on Accessibility, then on the Audio icon. Check Play stereo audio as mono.

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At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Refreshed interface
    • Up Next offer a new way to queue up music
    • Improved MiniPlayer, iTunes Store integration
    • Simplified playlist creation


    • Sort options limited in different views, many view options are hidden or inconsistent
    • Searching very slow with large libraries
    • No artwork window or option to change the size of album art in Albums view
    • No option to open multiple windows
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