iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iOS and iTunes Tips & Tricks | iLounge

Tips & Tricks

Forcing an iOS device to Update or Restore

Typically, getting an iOS device to update is as easy as plugging it into your computer and hitting the Update button in iTunes—or even easier if you have an iOS 5 device, as you can handle the update directly from the Settings app. But what if you need to downgrade your OS, or install an Update image that iTunes can’t retrieve from the server—such as the just released iOS 6 beta? Doing so is easy. Simply connect your device to your PC or Mac, make sure you have the latest version of iTunes installed and the necessary update image downloaded, click on your device in the iTunes sidebar, and when the main tab appears, hold the option (on Mac) or shift (on Windows) key in and hit the Update or Restore button, then choose the location of the update image. Click done, and iTunes will begin its normal process of updating or restoring the device’s software, no separate download required.

Enabling Closed Captioning on iOS and iTunes

Most folks are familiar with Closed Captioning (CC)—the system for displaying text during a TV or video to help those with hearing disabilities follow along. But the system isn’t useful solely to them—if you’d like to watch a movie or TV show silently, for instance. Luckily, there’s lots of CC-enabled content available from the iTunes Store, and enabling the service on Apple’s devices is fairly simple. In iTunes on a Mac or PC, open up the Preferences, select Playback, and turn on the “Show closed captioning when available” option. On an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, open the Settings app, tap on Video, and turn Closed Captioning on. Last but not least, you can access the same option on the Apple TV by visiting the Settings menu, selecting Audio & Video, and then turning Closed Captioning on. Now you can enjoy your content—and some peace and quiet. [via OS X Daily]

Showing links to library in iTunes Ping listings

Ever notice how the Ping button in iTunes always tries to send you back into the iTunes Store? Ever wish it would show options to explore your own Library instead? If you’re on a Mac and can work the command line, you can make it do just that. Make sure you’ve quit iTunes, then launch Terminal, and type or paste in the following instruction:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes invertStoreLinks -bool YES

When you open iTunes back up, you’ll notice that the Ping button now shows you options to look through your own Library instead of the Store. If you’d like your Store links back, simply repeat the process, but replace the “YES” at the end with a “NO”. [via CoM]

Boost iTunes’ automatic conversion bit rate

Have an iTunes library full of uncompressed audio? Then you’re probably familiar with iTunes’ built-in option to automatically convert higher bit rate songs to a lower bit rate—and thus smaller file size—when filling up an iDevice. Previously, this option was not so audiophile friendly, due to its 128 kbps restriction, but with iTunes 10.6, you have some freedom to lower the file size of AIFF and Apple Lossless files while maintaining better sound quality. On the Summary page for your device, check down in the Options box, make sure you have the Convert higher bit rate songs box checked, and then take your pick from 128, 192, or 256 kbps, and enjoy the extra space on your device while also enjoying your music.

Hiding app purchases in iTunes in the Cloud

The ability to re-download apps you’ve bought in the past is great, but if you’re anything like us, you’ve downloaded plenty of apps that you don’t actually use. Luckily, Apple has built in a super-simple way to hide those purchases, so they aren’t cluttering up your Purchased list. To do this from an iOS device, simply find an app you’d lie to hide and swipe across it, and you’ll see the iCloud download button replaced with a red Hide button, which you can tap to hide the app. To unhide purchases, visit the account management pane of the App Store, and tap on Hidden Purchases. You can also achieve this trick from iTunes on the PC or Mac by visiting your Purchased apps and hovering over the icon of any app you’d like to hide until a small x button appears in the corner; you can likewise unhide purchases by visiting your account settings page.

Freeing up space in iTunes by deleting SD TV shows

Freeing up extra space in your iTunes Library—and thus on your hard drive—has long been a part of dealing with Apple’s media management software, but with the arrival of iTunes in the Cloud, it’s become easier than ever. If you have a few HD TV shows that you’ve downloaded from the iTunes Store, odds are you also have SD versions of those same videos hanging around. Assuming your portable devices support the HD version—and all current models do—you can easily get rid of the SD version, freeing up large amounts of storage space in the meantime.

To do so, simply open up your TV Shows list in iTunes and look for episodes that have the HD/SD icon next to the title. Right-click on these episodes, select Show in Finder from the pop-up menu, and then drag the version of the episode that doesn’t contain an (HD) designation to the trash. Repeat these steps for each episode that has two versions, then empty the trash. Should you ever need the SD version again, a quick visit to the iTunes Store’s Purchased section should allow you to re-download it. Unfortunately, Movies have yet to hit iTunes in the Cloud status, but as soon as they do, feel free to use the same technique to rid your Library of unnecessary SD movies — and free up gigabytes of space at the same time.

Finding iTunes U content on an iOS device

If you’ve been used to finding your iTunes U content in its normal home inside the iTunes Store or Videos apps, the recent release of Apple’s dedicated iTunes U app may have thrown you for a loop. But fear not—all the content is still available. Just not where you remember it. To access iTunes U content today, you need to download and/or launch Apple’s official iTunes U app. A simple Catalog button on the Library screen will take you to the same iTunes U content you’ve accessed before, only now it will live inside the iTunes U app—on that aforementioned Library screen—instead of in your Videos app.

Top Tips of 2011

Continuing our end-of-year roundup, we’ve decided to use today’s Tip to give you a list of links to our top tips of the past year. Below, you’ll find links to tips for iTunes, iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Apple TV users, with a little something for both new users and experienced pros.

Sharing Multiple Photos on iOS
Taking control of your iTunes Library with Smart Playlists
Getting the most out of iOS’ software keyboard
Setting up Automatic Downloads in iOS and iTunes
Getting rid of Wi-Fi network pop-ups on iOS
Navigating the Music app with one hand
Mastering the Apple TV remote
Setting up an iTunes Store Allowance account
Setting up Notification Center on iOS 5
Making Siri work with Facebook + Twitter
Sharing an iCloud account for multi-device access
Customizing your Mail signature on iOS

Opening a second window in iTunes

For all its power and wide range of features, iTunes sure does like to keep everything in the same, arguably cluttered window. Luckily, there’s a super-easy way around this limitation. Next time you’ve got music playing and want to check out the iTunes Store, your library of media, or another playlist, simple double click on the sidebar item of whatever you’d like to see. iTunes will graciously open it in a new window on top of your first one, leaving your currently-playing selection undisturbed.

Setting up an iTunes Store Allowance account

Making purchases on the iTunes Store is simple—a little too simple, if you ask some parents. If you’d like to give a child or loved one an account of their own while keeping their spending in check, an iTunes Store Allowance account is the way to go. Here’s how to set one up.

First, make sure you’re logged into the store with your own account, then click on the “Buy iTunes Gifts” link on the front page of the store. From there, scroll down to the “Allowances” section and follow along with the instructions, making sure to take advantage of the option to create a new Apple Account for the recipient. Once all the necessary info is entered, the recipient will get an email explaining how to access their account and information on the allowance itself. Once it’s setup, you can manage the allowance from the main iTunes Store account management screen. For more information on iTunes Store Allowance accounts, see our Complete Guide to Using the iTunes Store.

Searching the Store from anywhere in iTunes

This week’s tip may be simple, but if you’re frequently searching the iTunes Store for new music, movies, books, and apps, it can be a big time saver. Normally, you need to click on the iTunes Store in your sidebar to search the Store—but this isn’t the only way to do it. Simply hold down option when you hit return after typing something in iTunes’ built-in search field and it will automatically route your query to the iTunes Store instead of searching locally.

Splitting a track in iTunes

Have any tracks hanging out in your library that were ripped from CD, and therefore include one song, a few minutes of silence, and then a bonus track afterward? Well, this tip—an oldie but a goodie—will show you how to split the two using nothing but iTunes.

Simply find out the time code for when the hidden song starts, make sure you have the track selected, go to File > Get Info or hit Command-I on the keyboard, go to the Options tab, and then set the Start Time to the start of the hidden track. Hit OK, and then with the song still selected, go to Advanced > Create AAC Version, or select the same option by right-clicking on the track. After a short conversion process, you’ll have two copies of the track, one of which is complete, and one of which contains only the hidden track. You can then go back in, set the Start Time on the original to 0:00 and the Stop Time to the end of the first track, leaving you with both songs intact but none of the silence.

Quickly adding your Digital Booklets to iBooks

Long before the advent of iTunes LP, Apple offered—and still does offer—so-called Digital Booklets with certain album purchases. Unfortunately, these files have been basically useless outside of iTunes, as Apple has never offered a good way to organize and view them on its portable devices—until it added PDF support iBooks. While it might not do it automatically, iTunes does offer an easy way to gather these Booklets up and move them over to iBooks.

Taking iTunes Full-Screen in Lion

If you’re one of the million-plus people who took the leap and installed Lion on your Mac last week, odds are you know about the new OS’ Full-Screen App feature—but if you haven’t upgraded to iTunes 10.4, you might be missing out. One of the first things you might notice upon launching the app in Lion is a pair of diagonal arrows pointing out towards the corners of the screen—these are there to let you turn on Full Screen mode, which can also be activated by hitting control-command-F on the keyboard.

Quickly add apps, content to iOS devices

More than likely you’re accustomed to using iTunes’ tabbed device management interface for handling what apps, music, videos, and other media you want on your devices. But did you know that you can add just a few items quickly and easily without ever having to change those settings? Simply drag-and-drop any app or content you want from your iTunes library to the iOS device’s listing in the sidebar. iTunes will automatically add it to the device—assuming there’s enough available space—even if you’ve got automatic syncing turned on.

Setting up Automatic Downloads in iOS and iTunes

Announced this week as part of Apple’s new iCloud service, you can now set your iOS devices and iTunes to automatically download new purchases made on other devices. On your iOS device running 4.3.3, go in to the Settings apps and tap on Store. Right at the top, you’ll see slider toggles for turning Automatic Downloads of Music, Apps, and Books on and off. In addition, there’s a separate option below that on 3G-enabled devices that lets you decide whether you’d like them to download purchases over the cellular network when you’re away from Wi-Fi.

In iTunes 10.3, the process is just as simple. Open the iTunes > Preferences… menu, click the Store tab, and then click the three check boxes for the Automatic Downloads of Music, Apps, and Books as you’d like. From now on, whenever you purchase a song, app, or book on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or home computer, you’ll find it waiting for you the next time you use one of your other devices.

Turning on Home Sharing for iPod, iPhone, and iPad

Apple’s cloud-based music service might be just around the corner, but in the meantime, you can have complete access to your iTunes library on any iOS 4.3 device via your home’s Wi-Fi network by setting up Home Sharing. In the iTunes Preferences window, make sure you have Sharing turned on, then go to the Advanced menu and turn on Home Sharing. Once that’s done, go to your iOS device’s Settings app, tap on iPod, and scroll down to the Home Sharing section, then enter the same Apple ID and password that you used to setup Home Sharing on iTunes. From then on, whenever you access the iPod app while connected to your home network, you’ll see an option for Shared under the More tab. Select your library, and you’ll have full access to every song, album, and playlist you’ve got, turning every iPod/iPhone/iPad speaker in the house into a mini music server. Note that if you have a second-generation Apple TV, you can likely skip the iTunes steps and go straight to your portable device.

Disabling Ping in iTunes


Apple’s social music network Ping hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since its debut last year, and while some users find it amusing and helpful, others see it as far more of a nuisance than it’s worth. Luckily for the latter crowd, there’s a super-easy way to disable it. Simply open the iTunes > Preferences menu—or hit command-comma—go to the Parental Controls tab, check the box next to Ping in the Disable area, and hit okay. This single manuever removes all references to Ping from iTunes, including the sidebar, track, and iTunes Store menu listings.

Please visit our Tip of the Day sponsor PowerSupportUSA.com for more information on their iPod/iPhone/iPad cases and films.

Power (Column) Browsing on the iTunes Store


Depending on how long you’ve been an iTunes user, you may or may not know about the column browser view. But did you know it works in the iTunes Store as well? Simply open the store, then hit command+B—or select View > Column Browser > Show Column Browser. Once you’re in, you can browse everything in the store—including music, movies, TV shows, and apps—by genre or category, and sort the results in a variety of ways, including by name, artist, price, and release date, with the latter being super-handy for finding the latest and greatest stuff on the store.

Please visit our Tip of the Day sponsor PowerSupportUSA.com for more information on their iPod/iPhone/iPad cases and films.

Taking control of your iTunes Library with Smart Playlists


For those of us with larger music and video libraries, picking and choosing what media to put on our iPods, iPhones, and iPads can be a real chore. Luckily, iTunes has a built-in feature that can help you make customized playlists of just the stuff you want to hear and watch. Called Smart Playlists, these dynamic lists are created by setting different rules—say, only songs added in the last two years with a rating of four stars or higher—and using those to filter out the filler. With over forty different basic rules to choose from, you should have no problem creating new lists that work for you while maximizing the space on your favorite portable device. To get started, simply hold down the option button on your keyboard while rolling over the plus symbol in the bottom left corner of the main iTunes window, or go to the File menu and choose “New Smart Playlist…”

Please visit our Tip of the Day sponsor PowerSupportUSA.com for more information on their iPod/iPhone/iPad cases and films.

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