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How Do Shared iTunes Radio Stations Work?

With iTunes Radio, you can share stations with your friends. You can’t do this with the Featured Stations – the ones Apple curates – but you can with any you create. However, some of the stations you create may be pre-packaged stations, based on artists or genres.

001.pngHere’s an example. There’s a Contemporary Classical radio station that I added to iTunes the other day, which has bits and pieces of recent “classical” music. I didn’t create this station myself; I selected it from the stations that showed up when I clicked on the Classical genre. I tweeted about it, and someone added it to their iTunes Radio stations. So it displays, as you can see here, with 1 Follower.

But what does that mean? Will anyone who’s added an iTunes Radio station from a link you share automatically get all the changes you make to the station? Because you can choose a setting in the Tune this station section, and you can add artists or songs to the Play more like this section, and you can also block artists or songs in the Never play this section.

If the station is shared, then, will all users get the same Play more and Never play information when they listen to the station? Do you want to try? Here’s a link to the Contemporary Classical station. I’ve added Steve Reich, Bang on a Can and So Percussion to the artists I want to hear more of. And I’ve added Black Sabbath to the Never play section. If you add this station, do you see the same?

Update: If, as the comments below suggest, you don’t see the Play more or Never play sections with a shared radio station, then you are, indeed, following someone else’s choices. I find this surprising for a preset station – the one I experimented here is one of iTunes’ sub-genre stations.

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The Best iTunes Keyboard Shortcut™ Ever

002.pngA friend asked me today a question about iTunes. It’s one I get often. And the answer is, the best iTunes keyboard shortcut™ ever.

He wanted to know how he could find what’s playing in his music library. After tagging a bunch of songs, and moving around in different views, he wasn’t sure what he was listening to. (He could see it in the iTunes LCD, but he wasn’t sure where it was located.)

The best iTunes keyboard shortcut™ takes you to the currently playing track, and highlights it. Just press Command-L (Control-L on Windows). Whether you’re listening to music, watching videos, or listening to iTunes Radio, Command-L transports you instantly to the item that’s playing. (You can also choose Controls > Go to Current Song, if you prefer using menus.)

So memorize that one. If you get lost in your iTunes library, a quick Command-L takes you back where you want to go. There’s only one exception: if you press Command-L while playing music you’ve added to Up Next, iTunes will go to that music in the Music library. If you had added the music from a playlist, iTunes won’t go there.

Note: this doesn’t work with the iTunes Store, so if you’re listening to a song preview in the iTunes Store, pressing Command-L won’t do anything. Unfortunately.

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iTunes 11: See Aggregate iTunes Radio Listening History

iTunes002.pngIf you use iTunes Radio, you know that you can see a history of what you’ve listened to on a given station by clicking on the station’s icon. The iTunes window expands that icon to show this history, along with artists or songs you’ve added as favorites, and others that you don’t like.

But what if you’ve heard a song you like, but can’t remember which station it was on? There’s a way to view your aggregate iTunes Radio history for all stations.

Just click the Up Next icon, either in the iTunes LCD or in the iTunes Mini Player (the Up Next icon is surrounded by the red box in the screen shot to the left). A menu will unfold – like the Up Next menu – showing each station, and the last 100 tracks you’ve listened to, in reverse chronological order.

The menu also tells you which device you listened to during each session. So if you listen on different computers, and on iOS devices, you’ll be able to scan the list and see which device you listened to. This may help you find the track you’re looking for.

I note that I see a number of tracks marked Unknown Title. I assume that iTunes has simply lost track of those.

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The iTunes Guy Looks at Glitchy Tracks, Numbers Game, and Too-Large Libraries

itunesguy-thum-100004188-gallery.jpgYou know the one where you get a track from iTunes Match and it’s not perfect? How about the one where you’ve just got too much stuff in your iTunes library and it slows iTunes down to a crawl? Or that thing where there are numbers at the beginnings of track names and you’d really like to get rid of them? Well, read on to find out how to fix these problems.

Find out more in this week’s Macworld Ask the iTunes Guy column.

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iTunes High Resolution Conversion to WAV or AIFF Truncates Bit Depth

I spotted something surprising today, and if you buy and listen to high-resolution files with iTunes, you’ll want to know about this. Personally, I don’t believe the high-resolution music file stuff, but it’s up to you.

As you may know, you can play back high-resolution files in iTunes, if they are in Apple Lossless format. You can convert files to Apple Lossless from FLAC, AIFF or WAV with no loss in quality. You can do the WAV or AIFF conversion in iTunes, or, to convert FLAC files, you can use the free XLD.

But, if you use iTunes to later convert your Apple Lossless files to WAV or AIFF, you may be surprised: iTunes converts your 24-bit files to only 16 bits. Here’s an example: I took a 24-bit, 96 kHz file and converted it to WAV using iTunes. Here’s the original file:

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And here’s the WAV file:

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I’d always thought that iTunes was transparent in lossless encoding and decoding, but this is not the case. The same thing happens when converting to AIFF.

iTunes can play files at a bit depth of up to 24 bits, and with a sample rate of up to 352.8 kHz, assuming you have the hardware to handle that sample rate. But we forewarned that, if you plan to convert these lossless files back to AIFF or WAV, you’ll lose some of the high resolution. (To be fair, there is no reason to do so…)

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iTunes Smart Playlist: Lots of Live Dead

I’ve made a smart playlist to group all of my live Grateful Dead recordings (just official releases). This uses a nested smart playlist, with a number of conditions. The first is Artist is Grateful Dead, and then I nest a number of conditions, beginning with Album begins with 1, since all of the Dead’s concerts took place in the 20th century, and I name them with the date first, like this: 1974-05-14 – Missoula, MT – Dave’s Picks Vol. 9. Here’s what the smart playlist looks like:

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(To add nested conditions, press the Option key and click on the + button to the right of the first condition; when you hold down the Option key, that button becomes a … .)

For other live albums, I’ve just added their names; I could also do this more easily, by adding, say, “Live” to the Comments field of all these albums. But that means I’d need to remember to do this for each new release.

And here’s what I see when I view this smart playlist; this is in Grid view:

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That’s a lot of Grateful Dead!

By the way, if you want a full-size screenshot of the above picture, click here; it’s about 5 MB. You may need to click on the image to zoom to full size; I see I have to do that in Safari.

And how about a wallpaper? I’ve made a 2560×1440 graphic with a lot of my live Dead covers from iTunes. That’s the size of a 27″ Apple iMac, or Thunderbolt display. If you need other sizes, you’ll just have to make them yourself. Grab the wallpaper here (3.4 MB).

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The iTunes Guy Looks at Smart Playlists, Organizing Media Files and More

itunesguy-thum-100004188-gallery.jpgYou can do a lot with smart playlists in iTunes, and sometimes the questions I get from readers make me discover ideas that I had never thought of. In this week’s column, I show you how to create a smart playlist with a certain percentage of songs from different genres. I also talk about organizing iTunes media files, slow syncing of iOS devices, and how to find a lost password for an Apple ID.

Read this week’s Ask the iTunes Guy column on Macworld.

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iTunes’ Genius Isn’t So Dumb Anymore

A few weeks ago, I reported that iTunes’ Genius was getting dumber. Genius wasn’t finding recommendations for a lot of well-known music: things like Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty, The Door’s L. A. Woman, and many others, including songs by Talking Heads, the Rolling Stores and other well-known bands.

Well, Apple’s looked into this and it seems fixed. I tried all the songs I had flagged, and they all give me Genius recommendations.

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If you still see songs where there are no Genius recommendations – not obscure music, but songs well enough known that Genius should be able to make suggestions – drop a comment below.

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