Archive for iTunes tag

What to do before your iTunes Match subscription expires

At $25 a year the iTunes Match service can be a little tough to swallow given all it does is synchronize your music across iTunes especially when other file-sharing services are cheaper and more general purpose (OneDrive, Mega, DropBox etc).

One important thing to know however before you let your subscription lapse or cancel is that once it’s gone all your cloud-backed-up music will be unavailable.

That means if you don’t still have a local copy of the track your ripped from CD/download from anywhere but iTunes you’re going to be digging through backups or have to re-rip or repurchase it.

There is a simple way to download all your missing music before your subscription expires though.

Steps to download all your iTunes Match tracks

  1. Start up iTunes
  2. Create a new Smart Playlist with the criteria (as shown in screenshot)
    1. iCloud Status is matched
    2. Location is not on this computer
      image
  3. Save this Smart Playlist as say “iTunes Match Download”
  4. Browse to this Smart Playlist and select one song
  5. Select all with Ctrl-A (Windows) or Cmd-A (Mac)
  6. Consider the total size at the bottom of the screen in terms of whether you have this disk space or bandwidth allowance.
  7. Right click on the items and choose Download

This may take a while. You can see the status by opening the Downloads window.

If the downloads stop or fail for any reason just repeat steps 4-6 as your new playlist will keep shrinking as files are now available on your computer.

Enjoy!

[)amien

Freeing up disk space on Mac OS X

Space was a little tight (5GB) after my upgrade to Leopard and so I went on the hunt to free up space and ended up freeing almost 20GB of my 100GB disk – enough to let me set-up a new 20GB BootCamp partition that will host Vista and take over from my XP Pro Parallels image with any luck.

Large forgotten files

Disk Inventory X helps identify large files on your system which may no longer be required. In my case 8GB of imported iMovie clips, a 4GB Parallels backup HD image and a 140MB download of Boot Camp 1.4. A few blank DVD-R’s later and I’m almost 13GB lighter.

Unnecessary languages & platforms

I had previously removed the unused foreign languages and binary support using a mix of tools that was time consuming but obviously the Leopard upgrade has replaced all that.

Monolingual can remove both languages and binaries in a single sweep although it does take a good few minutes to run. Despite electing to keep English, English (UK), French and German for now as well as keeping the Intel and Intel 64-bit binaries I managed to claw back another 1.9GB of disk space. As an example Address Book shrunk from 45MB to 9MB.

As a warning, be aware you will need to reinstall Mac OS X if you want these languages back…

Music library clean-up

Head into iTunes and create a couple of new Smart Playlists:

  • Untitled and set the criteria of Play Count is 0
  • Abandoned Songs and set the criteria of Last Played is not in the last 3 months

Go through these and decide if they are worth keeping or not, in my case this was another 2.5GB.

You may also want to try dragging your ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music folder to the Library in iTunes to make sure iTunes is aware of all the files. I had about 30 songs that were no longer in iTunes but still in the file-system, no doubt from previously removing them in iTunes and hitting the wrong option.

Cleaning up the logs

Okay, we’re hitting that law of diminishing returns here but head into Utilities > Console and Move to Trash many of those logs.

Empty that trash can and rejoice!

If only we had compressible file-system support like Microsoft introduced with MS-DOS 6.2… Well, thankfully it’s on the cards as it is a feature of ZFS which is only read-only in Leopard but should be read-write before 10.6. That should claw back another 5-10GB of space for developers with all those highly compressible source files on their disks.

[)amien

Inside Apple Software Update for Windows

I was wondering whether Apple Software Update might search for and upgrade the various Boot Camp supplied tools and possibly drivers.

I did a little digging and couldn’t find the answer but did spot that the Software Update sends a few interesting machine details to Apple’s web server….

<key>ClientConfig</key>
<dict>
	<key>HW_Platform</key>
	<string>Windows</string>
	<key>HW_Make</key>
	<string>Apple Computer, Inc.</string>
	<key>HW_Model_String</key>
	<string>MacBookPro1,1</string>
	<key>HW_CPU</key>
	<string>Genuine Intel(R) CPU           T2500  @ 2.00GHz</string>
	<key>HW_Video</key>
	<string>ATI Mobility Radeon X1600</string>
	<key>HW_Ram</key>
	<string>2081088</string>
	<key>HW_Battery</key>
	<string>1</string>
	<key>SYS_Lang</key>
	<string>1033</string>
	<key>SYS_VERSION</key>
	<string>5.1.2600</string>
	<key>SYS_VERSION_STR</key>
	<string>Microsoft Win32s</string>
	<key>SYS_WMI_DISABLED</key>
	<string>0</string>
	<key>SW_QT_VERSION</key>
	<string>7.1.3.100</string>
	<key>SW_iTunes_VERSION</key>
	<string>7.0.0.70</string>
	<key>SWU_VERSION</key>
	<string>1.0.0.7</string>
	<key>SWU_CHECK_FREQ</key>
	<string>2</string>
</dict>

The software versions are fair enough but why it needs to report the Apple model, amount of RAM, video card, CPU details and whether you are running on battery is another matter.

It also adds a task to Scheduled Tasks to be able to check for updates at regular intervals – much preferred over a permanent background process.

[)amien

Apple’s Showtime and the disappointing iTV

Today’s Apple Showtime event showed some great products, and some disappointing ones.

iPods

The tiny new iPod Shuffle G2, the fantastic looking iPod Nano G2 with the return of the iPod Mini aluminium casing and 24 hour battery life and 8GB flash option weren’t to be sniffed at.

The iPod got… downloadable $4.99 games and an 80GB model. No sign of the long sought-after wide-screen touch-screen model with the virtual wheel.

iTunes

The expected downloadable movie announcement was made with movies at 640×480 – that’s 4x their existing TV-show/music video size and now on-par with the resolution of PC’s circa the late 80’s.

Job advises us this is “near DVD” which is kinda true DVD being 720×480/576. DVD given good quality source material, careful encoding and decent equipment can look pretty fine even blown up to 120″ on your wall.

What I couldn’t find out thought was how they intend on fitting widescreen movies into their distinctly non-wide-screen resolution.

DVD’s resolution is a little wider but more importantly it has an anamorphic mode where rather than waste pixels on the black bars the picture is stretched vertically before being encoded on the disk and then stretched horizontally on the way out of your DVD player – much the same way as widescreen movies were shot on non-widescreen film albeit with anamorphic lenses.

Jobs didn’t elaborate on whether they’ll have such a mode or something better…

Thanks to the complex licensing agreements between studios worldwide movies are a US exclusive so the rest of the world will have to sit and wait anyway.

iTunes 7 & Software Update

Add’s support for movie & iPod G4 game downloads and the user interface may well be a taste of things to come in Leopard. Flat blue gradients where aqua bubbles previously existed (equalizer, scroll bars).

Also introduced is a couple of new ways to view your local library using high quality rendered album cover art (like FrontRow) and a sort of mixed up mode (like Windows Media Player 11).

It’ll also now helpfully grab album art for albums you ripped from your own CD’s and show the breakdown of the disk usage of your pod by content type (movie/art/music).

What is interesting is iTunes 7 introduces “Apple Software Update” which looks curiously like it’s Mac OS X counterpart…

iTV

Towards the end of the announcement came the one last thing…. code-named iTV (I can’t imagine they’ll get the rights to this name in the UK where ITV is one of the big TV stations).

The announcement itself was a little unusual – it’s for a new hardware product they haven’t finished and won’t be available for months. I can only conclude they are airing the product to help shift downloadable movies with users knowing they can play it back on the big-screen.

I’m sure neither Apple or the studios want another Sony UMD disaster.

When I heard the words “Mac Mini” and “TV” I thought this could be the answer to my home entertainment hub… alas no. Rather than extend to the mini with support for DVB-S/T/C or UHF tuners and PVR functionality they abandon the hard disk entirely… and the DVD-ROM drive to boot.

Which leaves iTV with no TV support in the traditional sense. If you want content it’ll have to come from iTunes and unless Jobs and his pals add illegal DVD ripping that means buying everything again from the iTunes Store, sticking with your DVD player or buying a more capable media centre.

Would the iPod have been such a success if you couldn’t link in to your existing content but had to pay for all your music again?

Very doubtful.

The final icing on the cake is that the box will set you back $299. That’s exactly the same price as the Xbox 360 which will also stream media from a host computer over a network. The difference being that the 360 will play DVD’s and let you play state of the art games for that price.

iTV? More like Apple Cube 2.

[)amien