Q: How can I manage my audiobooks so that when I am listening to an audiobook and then I decide to change off and listen to something else, music or otherwise; when I return to listen to my audiobook again I have to remember which track I was on and the exact amount of time that has expired. Is there a way to listen to an audiobook, leave, and then return to the spot where you left off?
A: iTunes and the iPod offer a feature whereby any track can be set to “bookmark” its playback position when you stop listening to it. While this is obviously most useful for audiobooks, it can actually be set on any audio or video track in your iTunes library.
To tell iTunes and/or the iPod to save the playback position for a specific track, simply modify the track properties in iTunes by selecting the track in question, and choosing File, Get Info. The “Remember Playback Position” checkbox can be found on the “Options” tab.
Once this setting is enabled, not only will the iPod and iTunes retain the current playback position in these tracks, but will in fact even transfer this bookmark information between devices—so if you leave off five minutes into an audiobook on your iPod, and then sync your iPod to iTunes, you will be able to pick up right where you left off in your iTunes library, or even on another iPod (after syncing the other iPod to your iTunes library, of course).
Note that this only works within individual tracks, however. If you’re using audiobooks that are made up of more than one track, and want to maintain a reference to the tracks you’ve listened to, this can be done with a smart playlist to track the “Play Count” field of your audiobook tracks, and exclude those you’ve already listened to.
To create a smart playlist, simply choose File, New Smart Playlist and fill in the criteria that you would like the smart playlist to use. For an audiobook playlist, you can likely filter by a field such as the album or artist name, depending upon how you have your audiobooks tagged in iTunes. Beyond that, simply set the “Play Count” criteria to zero, and your smart playlist will automatically exclude any chapters from that audiobook that you’ve already listened to.
If the space on your iPod is limited, you can even use the “Limit” option in the smart playlist to only load in a few chapters of each audiobook at a time.
You can then start listening to the audiobook by using the smart playlist. As you listen to each chapter or segment, it will be marked as “played” (the play count will be set to 1), and will therefore disappear from the smart playlist the next time you load it. The chapter you are currently listening to should therefore always be the first item in the playlist for that audiobook.