This isn't really a hint so much as it is an undocumented but terribly useful feature for my lifestyle.
I have an iMac at home with a 250GB hard drive that stores my iTunes library and syncs the music to my 60GB iPod. But I spend most of my time using my MacBook Pro on the road, and tend to download lots of podcasts. I would like to keep my iPod's podcasts up to date from the MBP, but not store all my music on its smallish hard drive.
It turns out that with the latest version of iTunes, I can sync parts of my MBP library to my iPod (i.e., just the podcasts) without overwriting the music on the iPod from the iMac's library. So now I sync my podcasts and contacts from my MBP's library, and music, movies and TV shows from my iMac's library just by selecting the sync checkboxes on the relevant tabs in iTunes under DEVICES.
[robg adds: My friend and occasional hints editor Kirk notes that you'll want to hold down Command and Option when you first connect the iPod to mount it in manual mode. Change the settings and then set it back to automatic sync.]
Did you know the fifth generation video iPods have a built-in screensaver capability? As described on this page, here's all you need to do to enable it:
Create a new folder named Demo Mode at the top level of the iPod.
In iTunes, rename any video file to Demo.
When your iPod is charging and left untouched for two minutes, the video you renamed to demo will play and repeat, just like a screen saver.
[robg adds: The page also notes that your iPod must be in disk use mode with the latest firmware. I tested this with mine, and it worked as described. Just make sure that your renamed video file syncs back to the iPod, eject the iPod, and leave it untouched for two minutes. However, if you're going to try this, you should be aware of this comment, which I found on this Lifehacker page about the same hack:
To Make a Note, YES it resets all settings back to default (aka, store mode) and in order to be able to change any setting back you must REMOVE the "Demo Mode" folder.
So really, this isn't a mode you'll want to leave your iPod in -- it was clearly designed for use in the stores.]
Ever wished you could hold Wikipedia in the palm of your hand? Wanted to browse Wikipedia while you're on the bus ride home? Wikipod is the answer!
Wikipod is a short Perl script which spiders through Wikipedia, downloading pages as iPod notes. All it needs is a page to start from, and a limit as to how many pages to download.
[robg adds: I tried the script, and it worked as described, with one problem -- the notes were transferred outside of my iPod's Notes folder. Once I moved them in, everything worked. If you're going to try this, however, be aware of this note from the author's page:
There's one caveat about using notes on the iPod — the first time you navigate to the Notes menu after syncing with iTunes or downloading new Wikipedia articles, the iPod needs to inspect each page to see whether the links are valid. This can take a fair amount of time (and battery, since it's disk-intensive), so I recommend leaving the iPod plugged in until it finishes.
My test case was to download 10MB of data (2,572 pages), and after transferring the data, I then navigated to the Notes section of the iPod and waited ... and waited ... and I'm still waiting, 20 minutes later -- it seems to review about a note a second, so I've got a 40ish minute wait on my hands. So heed the warning, and leave your iPod plugged in!]
This excellent hint suggested a partial remedy to my main (and pretty much only) gripe about iTunes 7 -- its elimination of the ability to keep a disconnected iPod shuffle in the Source list, so that new contents can be pre-loaded between syncs (manually and/or by autofill).
That capability can be approximated by the following steps:
Create a Smart Playlist limited in size to the iPod Shuffle's storage capacity, and check its Live Update setting.
Set the Smart Playlist filters to meet any Shuffle-specific criteria you might have. For instance, I block songs shorter than 1 minute to screen out most stage announcements, and set a maximum song length of 15 minutes, which just allows Vodoo Chile to slip in once in a while.
Delete any or all items from the resulting list, and let Live Update replace them until you've got a group of songs you like.
Clone the Smart Playlist by dropping it on the PLAYLISTS header in the Source list (the method described in the aforementioned excellent hint).
Tweak the resultant static playlist as you see fit, and either drag it onto the Shuffle the next time it loads into the Source list, or use it as the autofill source for the Shuffle's next update.
To build another standby Shuffle list, select all the entries in the Smart Playlist, press Delete, and repeat step three to five above using the new live update results.
A variation on this has always been possible, by manually creating an empty static playlist and dragging Smart Playlist contents into it, but this requires far fewer clicks and practically no typing. I say practically none, because all cloned static playlists are given the same name as the Smart Playlist, and iTunes won't complain a bit if you create a dozen playlists all called "Shuffle." You may want to rename the clones to help tell them apart.
My G5 iPod often won't unmount after copying things to it from my PowerBook running 10.3.9, though I never have problems with my other Macintoshes running various other systems, or with my other iPods. I get a message saying that the iPod was being used by another application, even after all applications were closed, including restarting the Finder, and even after logging out and logging back in.
If you have the same problem, this is how to solve it, short of shutting down your computer. Put your computer to sleep, and then the iPod will unmount and you can safely disconnect it. This doesn't make sense to me, but it works.
I generally listen to audio books on my iPod at the 'Faster' speed setting, and always wanted to play Podcasts faster. It now appears that, for enhanced Podcasts at least, their speed is able to be adjusted according to the audio book settings ('Slower,' 'Normal' and 'Faster').
Unlike audio books, though, speed can only be adjusted through the settings menu, rather than clicking through with iPod's centre button.
Well it seems that despite saying that the firmware update for the iPod was strictly to allow games and fix bugs, Apple's tossed in a few neat features. The first being Brightness control on older 5G iPods. I've had mine almost a year now, and much to my surprise (and happiness), there's now a brightness control in the Settings menu.
Also, when scrolling through your Library, you should now have letters that appear telling you where you are in the library. Not sure if this was included in the lastest update or not.
With iTunes 7, Apple updated the iPod firmware to 1.2 for 5th generation iPods. Besides being able to use the games, the integrated Broadcom chipset for video is silently upgraded. The chipset always allowed resolutions up to 640x480 (H.264 and others), but Apple restricted that in the first versions. Now the power is fully usable (it's needed for Apple's new "near DVD-quality" movies from the Music Store.)
If you use the iPod as a playback VCR for your TV, you should re-encode all the movies you might have. Using QuickTime Player Pro 7.1.3, movies are exported for iPod now with H.264 in 640x480. The quality is stunning if you watch it full-size out of iTunes or on your TV (iPod connected with AV-cable). Other software soon might use the new features as well (iSquint, Podner, etc.).
My MacBook Pro is attached to all sorts of hardware, and it's always a pain to quit apps, switch locations, etc. I always do the same thing, so I wrote a series of scripts which automate everything I need to do before I unplug.
The iPod part of my script (AppleScript) is something that I haven't seen on hints before, so I figured I'd share. It updates all your podcasts, syncs your playlists with your iPod, and then ejects the iPod. The contribution here is that it does all this without resorting to adding static delays.
The recommended iTunes setup is to update all podcasts hourly, enable disk use on the iPod, and use automatically updating smart playlists.
As some of you may know, you can use On-the-Go playlists on your iPod to create playlists while you are away from your computer. You do so by holding the Center button until the song, artist, or whatever, flashes and is added to the On-the-Go playlist.
But if you make a mistake and add a song you didn't want to add, instead of starting over, you can go to the On-the-Go playlist and press the Center button with that song selected until it flashes, and it will be deleted!