iTunes Essentials for Road Trips

by Derrick Story

The checklist seems endless when getting ready for a holiday road trip. Is the house secured? Animals taken care of? Gifts ready to go?

But when I'm staring down 8 hours of highway, I have additional preparations that must be attended to. Is the iPod charged? Did I download a new book to listen to? Should I buy some music?

Buying music in a hurry is hard for me. Generally speaking, the process of searching for, previewing, deciding, then building a custom album is as much entertainment as listening to the songs themselves. I'm not accustomed to rushing through this chain of events. By doing so, I don't feel like I'm getting my money's worth.

But trying to get ready for a road trip demands desperate measures. Like Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, preparations must be made, and they must be made quickly. (Although my briefcase doesn't look anything like his inside.)

I decided to give iTunes Essentials a spin. If you haven't looked into it, it's a relatively new feature where Apple music buffs have assembled playlists based on themes, such as "Acoustic Rock Collection," that are ready for your listening enjoyment. If you don't already have any of the Essentials songs in your music library, then you can download the entire bunch just like an album.

I tried two of the Essentials collections, and thought the selections were darn good. It was like listening to a radio DJ in a good grove spinning one great track after another. The thing that surprised me, however, is that iTunes didn't add any new information to the song's metadata to make it easy to reassemble the songs into a playlist. For some reason I thought I would see something like "Classic hip-Hop" in one of the info fields such as Grouping.

So in order to reassemble the list, I changed my View Options to show the "Date Added" column, then I could click on the arrow in the column header to display the most recent songs added to my library. Then I created a custom playlist by the same name of the Essentials collection and dragged the songs over to it.

All in all, this method worked pretty good. But it left me wondering if there's an easier way to manage new iTunes music, especially when I'm in a hurry. If you have any tips, I'd really like to hear them.

Bottom line, I was happy to have new tracks to listen to while rolling down the highway. Between the two Essentials collections I downloaded, and the Audible book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, I enjoyed my travels more than I would have otherwise.

I'm looking for some tips to help me manage new music more quickly, such as when I'm getting ready for a road trip.


2003-12-26 09:53:37
coordinating iPod between different computers

A tangent to this would be:

How are people coordinating their iPod between laptop and desktop machines?

For instance, Derrick, you purchased an essential iTunes collection, and now it's on your iPod. What happens when you go to sync up your iPod with another Mac/Windows box? Will you lose that purchased music on the iPod (assuming you did not propagate it from desktop -> laptop?)

Unless I missed it, it would be nice to see an article talking about the 3rd party apps that address this.

2003-12-26 11:45:27
coordinating iPod between different computers
A lot of noise was made about this a couple of years ago, I have to say I'm surprised this is a question that is still being asked! Apple really should address this. There is a very very easy solution:

1. Link the iPod to your main machine.
2. Sync your iPod as usual with this machine.
3. Connect to the secondary system and don't link (or lose all the music and have to repeat step 2). Set the iPod to have playlists managed by you, not automatically sync'd.
4. Play from iPod as you would any other playlist.

I don't know if when you take the iPod back to the primary machine whether it needs to be told to be automatically managed for auto-syncing again. I should have thought not as it sounds like an iTunes preference, but I don't have two machines to test with. I use this feature so I can run my iPod with my laptop when I'm away from my home network MP3 server.


2003-12-26 13:27:23
managing 2 itunes collections on one computer
There should be some kind of easy access switch to turn syncing on and off - before you attach your iPod. I keep my main music collection on a firewire disc and a small collection locally. When travelling, if I want to plug in my iPod to my computer - say for a charge - I run the risk of syncing to my small local collection (at least I suspect it won't query me). Have to remember to turn syncing to manual before leaving the firewire disc, or use the cmd-opt key combo to prevent updating. It would be easier if there was a pref to set.
2003-12-26 16:57:51
Since We're on Related Subjects Already...
... I have to mention on of my favorite pieces of podware -- PodWorks by Sc-Fi Hi-Fi. It gives you control of your music over multiple machines. It was good when I first discovered it back at version 1.x. Now it's at v. 2.7 and better than ever. Worth every penny of the $8 shareware fee.
2003-12-27 03:30:21
Managing new music
I have a smart playlist which only shows songs that haven't been played yet (Play Count is 0). All new music automatically gets in there so I can readjust metadata and the like.
2003-12-27 08:57:09
Managing new music
Smart! Good tip Harold. I'm going to create one of those right now myself.