Ask the iTunes Guy

Kirk McEl­hearn an­swers your iTunes ques­tions

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

Does iTunes con­vert?

Q: My iTunes li­brary con­tains a lot of MP3 files that I ripped with soft­ware other than iTunes. When I add these files to iTunes, or sync them to my iPhone, does iTunes con­vert them to AAC

files? If so, does this mean that the files take up ex­tra space on my hard drive?

A: There are two ques­tions here. The first is about the file for­mats that iTunes sup­ports, and the sec­ond is about sync­ing.

Since iTunes uses AAC as its de­fault for­mat for rip­ping CDs, and files pur­chased from the iTunes Store are in that for­mat, many peo­ple think that iTunes only han­dles AAC files. iTunes sup­ports files in the fol­low­ing for­mats: AAC, MP3, WAV, AIFF, and Ap­ple Loss­less. (It also sup­ports Au­di­ble au­dio­books.) iTunes can store and play files in any of those for­mats. Also, there seems to be a com­mon be­lief that AAC is a pro­pri­etary au­dio file for­mat cre­ated by Ap­ple. This is not the case. AAC stands for Ad­vanced Au­dio Cod­ing, and is part of the MP4 spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

iTunes only con­verts files in two spe­cific sit­u­a­tions. The first is when you add WMA files to an iTunes li­brary on a Win­dows PC. When you do this, iTunes con­verts them to the for­mat you’ve set in the Im­port Set­tings di­a­log of the Gen­eral pref­er­ences, be­cause it does not sup­port the WMA for­mat. iTunes does not, how­ever, delete the orig­i­nal WMA files, and it’s up to you to do so if you don’t want to keep them.

The sec­ond is when you tell iTunes to con­vert high bit rate files to lower bit rate ver­sions dur­ing a sync to an iOS de­vice. You con­trol this on the Sum­mary pane of your iOS de­vice when sync­ing.

When iTunes per­forms this con­ver­sion, it doesn’t keep two ver­sions of the files, but con­verts the files on the fly, putting the lower bit rate ver­sions on the

iOS de­vice. This al­lows you to save space on your iOS de­vice by choos­ing a lower bit rate for sync­ing, yet keep­ing higher bit rate ver­sions of your files in your iTunes li­brary.

Which playlist is a song in?

Q: I have lots of playlists in my iTunes li­brary. Some­times I want to find which playlist a spe­cific song is in. Is there any way I can do that?

A: If you right-click or Con­trol-click a song you can choose Show in Playlist to see all the playlists that con­tain the song. Choose one of the playlists from the sub-menu to go to the se­lected track in that playlist.

Delet­ing an artist

Q: Is there any way to re­move all of an artist’s mu­sic from my iPhone? I only see op­tions to re­move songs or al­bums.

A: To delete a song or al­bum, find the item, then tap and hold un­til a di­a­log dis­plays. Tap Re­move or Delete from Li­brary. This works for mu­sic you’ve synced or down­loaded from the cloud. If you try to do this with an artist, the only op­tion avail­able is to start an Ap­ple Mu­sic ra­dio sta­tion.

You can, how­ever, delete an artist’s mu­sic if you know where to look. Go to Set­tings > Mu­sic > Down­loaded Mu­sic, and you’ll see a list of the mu­sic on your iOS de­vice, listed by artist. Swipe to the left on an artist’s name and then tap Delete to re­move their mu­sic. Since each en­try in the list shows how much space an artist’s mu­sic takes up, you may want to do this when you need some free stor­age on your de­vice.

Art­work in my car

Q: My car sys­tem only sup­ports low-res­o­lu­tion al­bum art, but I have lots of art­work in my iTunes li­brary that is very high res­o­lu­tion. Is there a way to re­duce the file size of all my art­work?

A: Doug Adams’ $2 Re-Ap­ply Down­sized Art­work ( does ex­actly what you want. You se­lect some tracks, set the res­o­lu­tion you want, run the app, and it changes the art­work. There are lots of op­tions for the fi­nal art­work: size, pad­ding, and more. The only limit is that iTunes won’t let it work on more than about 10 or 20 tracks at a time.

Choose Show in Playlist to see which playlists con­tain a given song

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