For a tech editor, I consider myself fairly slow at adapting to new solutions once I have found something that works really well for me. Growing up in a generation of Winamp and Foobar - where I could download visualizations, organize folders to my liking, and throw sweet parties - it seemed almost illogical to go from my total-control setup to something as automated as iTunes. But after building up my large (though modest compared to some) collection of about 40,000 MP3s, it seems too much for one person to organize alone. If you're a slow adapter like me, here's an attempt at a comprehensive guide to completely selling your soul to iTunes (with solutions to many of the hiccups you'll probably run into).
Being somewhat of an audio nerd, I've ripped files in *.ogg and *.flac in the past to try and maintain the lossless quality of my music. But man, does iTunes hate them. So you have two options: convert the damn files or try to make them play without any conversion.
To convert flac to a high-bitrate MP3:
- Download NCH Software's Switch (available for Intel and PowerPC Macs for free)
- Or download X Lossless Decoder (XLD) (free and boasts drag-and-drop simplicity and can convert your files into a variety of formats without losing metadata)
To play flac or ogg files in iTunes:
- Go to //www.xiph.org/quicktime/download.html and download XiphQT 0.1.9 (0.1.5 for Windows). Unzip the folder and extract the contents.
- Copy XiphQT.qtx file to the 'QTComponents' sub-folder of your base QuickTime installation directory. Typically it means:
- C:\Program Files\QuickTime\QTComponents
- You may need to create the 'QTComponents' folder if it doesn't already exist in your QuickTime installation.
- Restart iTunes.
Seeing as my music collection has begun its course to utter chaos, I decided to take advantage of iTunes 9's Auto-Import folder for the normal MP3's I do download. Once I've heard it and liked it, I throw it into this folder that lives in my Dock and voila! Instant library insertion.
My other issue with iTunes was the sheer craziness of having 40,000 MP3s instantly bestowed upon you if you choose to directly import your entire collection without any playlists or categories created beforehand. It'll seem like you've just wasted years of your life organizing your current collection into folders to only see it go to waste in a matter of seconds.
Well, there's a simply solution for that. Simply create a playlist of all your songs by folder BEFORE importing any music into iTunes.
Open the playlist in iTunes, Select all of your songs, and then go to File > Library > Organize Library. When it asks for consolidation, check the box. This will copy over all of your playlist items into your newly organized iTunes library for future syncing and playlist making within the software.
Biggest gripe. Has to be the fact that the iPhone doesn't support these native formats I hold so dear. For me, it's what keeps the iPhone from becoming the ultimate portable media player (PMP). But hey, you can't have everything when Apple holds all the cards, right?