Baron Dave Romm (barondave) wrote,
Baron Dave Romm

iTunes: A Primer for non-geeks Part IIA: Extracting Music From A CD

Part I: Terminology. What the heck are we talking about?
Part II: Extracting music from a CD into iTunes
--A. Where do the track listings come from?
--B. Importing vs. Extracting: for CD Burning vs. for iPod
Part III: Organizing iTunes
Part IV: Burning a CD

Let's make it easy. For the vast majority of you, this is how to do it:
  1. Insert CD into computer

  2. Wait for the CD listing to come up in iTunes

  3. Right-click on the song you want

  4. In right-click menu, choose "Convert Selection to MP3"

  5. Repeat for any song listed

  6. If you want the whole CD, before Step 3 go to the Menu and choose "Select All", then right click anywhere on the highlighted tracks

If you want to do anything else, read the primer behind the cut. Long!

I started this a while back and got no feedback, so put it on the back burner. Since then, several Friends have told me, ex LJ that they were interested, so I'm going to keep going. Besides, it's Spring...

Enough people have expressed dismay/fustration with iTunes that a brief primer is in order. I'll try to make this as non-techie as possible. All you geeks, please cut this into some slack, but feel free to add or correct in comments.

I have to be a little technical, but if you can handle LiveJournal, you can handle iTunes.

What if the CD doesn't open iTunes?
  1. Under the iTunes menu, select Preferneces (the Mac power key is Cmd-,)

  2. In Preferences, select the Advanced icon

  3. In the Advanced menu, use the pull down menu "On CD Insert" to select "Show CD"

  4. Click Okay in the lower left of the window

Note 1: The above steps are sometimes annotated as iTunes menu --> Preferences --> Advanced --> "On CD Insert" pull-down to "Show CD"

Note 2: I'm not going to go through all of them, but the other options in the "On CD Insert" pull-down menu can be useful. For example, if you want a CD to start playing when you put it in, select "Begin Playing".

Note 3: We will be in this menu a lot during this primer, including the next step. If you are just reading along, don't close the window for a while.

What if the CD track listing doesn't come up?

If you put in a CD and you just see listings for "Track 01", Track 02", etc then it means either of two things. First, that you aren't telling iTunes to look it up on the net. Second, that the CD is not listed in CDDB (the Compact Disk Database, administered by Gracenote; there are other CD Databases, but iTunes connects to CDDB). Same Preferences window as above.

Test: Advanced menu --> Get CD Track Names
If the track names still don't come up, it means it's not listed and you should skip to the next section. If it does, and you'd like to have the names come up automatically, do the following:

iTunes menu --> Preferences --> Advanced --> click on the box next to "Automatically retrieve track names from Internet"

If the CD is listed in CDDB, the track names should come up. You may have to eject and reinsert the CD.

The other check boxes do the following:
  • "Play songs while importing or converting" The song will play while you're extracting. (I'm going to skip my rant about the term "ripping" for the moment to obersrve that iTunes also uses precise terminology. You "import" a file in the same format. You "convert" a file from one format to another, such as converting a CD track to mp3.

  • "Create file names with track number" This is part of how iTunes organizes the music. If you get an alert asking if you want to reorganize your iTunes library, I would advise against it. But it's up to you. This can be handy for some circumstances, but I never check this box.

  • "Use error correction when reading Audio CDs" As the text under the option reads, this is mainly used when you're having problems. The audio CDs have a lot of redundancy and internal checks, and sometimes (sometimes!) itunes can figure out a bad file. Unless you're having problems, ignore this checkbox

No really, this is a mix CD from my friend, and the track listing won't come up, but it's listed on her computer? WTF?

You're screwed.

To be more precise, you'll have to enter the information manually. You can do this either on the original CD or in the listing on iTunes. If you enter the information on the CD tracks, that listing will come up on your computer every time you insert the CD. Plus, that information will be available when you extract the file, and appear on iTunes.

Okay, so close the Advance window by clicking "OK" (for now, remember where you were).

I'll assume you're going to add the informaton to the CD. You can add to/change the information on any listing in iTunes, but the order will be different.

  1. Insert the CD

  2. Right-click on the first track

  3. Choose the top option, "Get Info" (or File --> Get Info or Cmd-I)

  4. Choose the Info submenu

  5. Fill in as desired

  6. Click on the "Next" button

  7. Fill the next track

  8. Repeat until every track is annotated

Note 1: iTunes remembers every entry, and prompts you after the first few letters. This may save a lot of time, but may be annoying. Your choice.

Note 2: To enter information about more than one track (for example, the name of the Album), select the tracks (or Select All), right-click and choose the top option, Get Info. You'll see a "Multiple Item information" window. Information entered here will be present on all the selected tracks. This is also where you can make a Gapless Album (that is, you can make sure these tracks always play in this order, even on Random).

You don't have to enter information in any sort of track order, and you can always go back and change a field.

A standard thing to do when entering mix CDs is to use the Multiple item information entries for all the tracks, entering the name of the CD and sometimes a note in the Comments field (which will help with searches as well as remind you who gave you the CD). Then go back and enter the track information individually.

Once you're happy with the track listing on the CD, you can extract the files, and the information will carry over into your file in iTunes.

What are you seeing?

I'm going to get a little ahead of the game and mention two other things. First, that you can change what fields are shown and in what order.

View Menu --> View Options (Cmd-J)
Turn on or off any field. OK. Feel free to play around with this. You can't harm anything.

Similarly, move the columns around. For example: Click and hold on the label "Time". While holding the mouse key down, slide it to your right so that it's past the "Artist" label. The whole column moved! Again, you can't hurt anything and this layout will only apply to this CD.

Second, once you've filled in all the information on every track on the CD, you can Advanced --> Submit CD Track Names. That is, submit the information to CDDB. Unless you're the originator of the CD, I strongly recommend AGAINST this. CDDB is not policed well (which is why mix CDs can fly under the radar in the first place) and some CDs have multiple entries. This is confusing and annoying. Let the original artist/mix creator do it. With power comes responsibility.

Extracting into differnt formats will have to wait for Part II, section B

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