Printing CD Covers and Lists in iTunes

Apple’s recent updates to iTunes (versions 4.5 and 4.6) offer users many exciting new features including the ability to print CD covers and track or album lists, the importing and converting of WMA audio files (Windows only), an all-new play queue feature called “Party Shuffle,” the sharing of “iMixes” on the Music Store, and last but certainly not least:  streaming audio to a remote set of speakers using an Apple Airport Express with AirTunes technology.  These new features will become the subjects of our next installments of our of “iPod 101” iTunes training series.

This week, we continue iPod 101 with a tutorial entitled “Printing CD Covers and Lists in iTunes.”  Thanks to iTunes and iLounge, you’ll soon be printing professional-looking covers for your CD backups and custom mixes, and archiving a listing of your tracks or albums… Enjoy!

Printing CD Covers and Lists in iTunes

Apple offers three main options for printing information from iTunes:  CD Jewel Case Insert, Song Listing, and Album Listing.  In each of these three options, there are various templates that allow the user to customize, to some degree, the organization and look of the final product.

We’ll review each of these methods individually, but only after mentioning an important item common to all three:

Regardless of what print method you choose, the subject of your printed material is the entire contents of whatever is selected in the Source column on the left side of your iTunes window.  Essentially, you’ll either be printing the information from your entire library if it is selected as the “Source,” or the entire contents of your currently active playlist.  Unlike prior iTunes functions that we have reviewed here (Album Art, Tagging), printing will not operate on a selected subset of tracks… only entire “Source” listings.  Therefore, if you’d like to print information only on a few tracks, you’ll still have to make a new playlist or smart playlist to contain them.  Once you’ve have this down, continue on to the detail below!

CD Jewel Case Covers:

This is the option most users will use most frequently.  Have you ever burned a (backup?) copy of one of your CDs or a CD you’ve purchased from the music store, only to turn your nose up at the bland paper sleeve you slide it into for storage?  No longer do you need to… iTunes creates great-looking two-sided inserts for the front of your jewel case for you in about 3 to 5 mouse clicks.  Sorry, no back-of-the-jewel-case insert or CD sticker.  Apple… Are you listening?!

  1. To begin, select a playlist.  (The library works, too… but for practical purposes, you’ll be using this option with a playlist belonging to a CD you’ve just burned).
  2. Select File—>Print… from the main menu atop iTunes (PC) or the screen (Mac)
  3. Select CD Jewel Case Inserts
  4. Select your Theme.  “Mosaic” is shown below.
  5. Hit Print, and you’re done!

    The “Mosaic” theme is by far the coolest, most popular, and easiest cover setting to use, so I’ll discuss it specifically here.  Feel free to explore the others on your own (Apple’s descriptions are easy to follow).

    Mosaic is neat because it works great for both “regular” CDs and Compilations.  When printing a “regular” CD, Mosaic prints the Album Art (explained previously) embedded in the tracks on the front, and fades it as a background image for the track listing on the back.  The result is a nice-looking two-sided insert.  For compilations and custom mixes, it gets even cooler:  Mosaic creates a… mosaic (!) of all the various album art contained in the playlist.  The result here is incredibly nice—See the examples below:


    Mosaic Mode with 1 CD

    Mosaic Mode with many CDs

    Explore, experiment, and have fun!  iTunes’ jewel case inserts really put a fun, professional finish to the “Rip, Mix, Burn” process.

  6. Tip:  Print your CD covers onto card stock or photo paper for better-looking, longer-lasting jewel case inserts.

    Song and Album Listings:

    “Song Lists” and “Album Lists” are essentially self-explanatory.  Song Lists provide a nicely-formatted (customizable) listing of your tracks, artists, ratings, playcounts, etc.  Album Lists print out a listing of your albums (with album art!! See photo below) and the tracks contined within.  (I’ll spill my largest complaint with this setting up front:  “Album Lists” do not group compilations, giving this method potential to become messy).

    These two features will be used far less by the average user than CD covers.  Nevertheless, they are quite useful in certain situations.  I use a comprehensive Song List each time I backup my Library to DVD-R, and place it in the binder next to that backup as a record of what’s there.  Perhaps you’d like to print off a playlist or your Library to show to your friends, or save it as a PDF to post on your website.  Regardless, here’s how they’re created:

    1. To begin, select your library or a playlist you’d like to print.
    2. Select File—>Print… from the main menu atop iTunes (PC) or the screen (Mac)
    3. Select either Song List or Album List.  A preview is displayed to the right.
    4. Select your Theme (Song List only).  Here, you’ll be able to customize the information that is put into your printout.  All of the options are easy enough to understand, and I therefore won’t go through them individually, although “Custom” is noteworthy:  It will mirror the columns that you have currently displayed in your iTunes window.
    5. Hit Print, and you’re done!

      What emerges from the printer?  A rather beautifully-formatted listing generated in seconds.  Hooray!  Here are two examples:


      Song Listing


      Album Listing


      iLounge would like to wish you fun in exploring iTunes’ printing features further, and welcome you back for next week’s iPod 101 feature… See you soon!

      Jerrod H.