The iMac Way

The iMac Way

by Hans Hansen, Brad Miser

iMac Guide explores everything these great and powerful computers are capable of. It begins by first covering the iMac itself and its components. It then follows with introductions and techniques for exploring all the creative tasks and media for which the iMac is best. Each of the creative subjects covered is limited to an introduction; providing an overview…  See more details below


iMac Guide explores everything these great and powerful computers are capable of. It begins by first covering the iMac itself and its components. It then follows with introductions and techniques for exploring all the creative tasks and media for which the iMac is best. Each of the creative subjects covered is limited to an introduction; providing an overview with explanations of the terminology, some techniques for getting started, and some examples. The book concludes with practical issues that some readers may run into everyday (such as working in a cross-platform environment, networking a printer).

Editorial Reviews

Owners of iMac computers using Mac OSX or OS9 can use this book to help them burn copies of CDs, make digital movies, and create Web sites. It is divided into sections covering digital audio, video, and graphics, with a final section on making a web page and using wireless networking. The simple approach taken by editors Hansen and Miser (both authors of several other books on Macintosh) assumes very little computer experience on the part of the reader. Thoroughly indexed. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

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Excerpt from Chaper 1:

Collecting Music

...adjust the width or the source list, as well as the artist and album frames (when browsing the library), and you can change the width and contents of any of the columns in the contents listing. ...

Clicking the zoom box in the upper-right corner of the iTunes window will shrink the window down to a small version with only the play controls and the current selection display. The width of this little window can be adjusted to squeeze it way down further to ,just the play controls. This is great when you are using iTunes to listen to music while working in other applications; you can keep the iTunes window small and visible so that you can quickly reach its controls and monitor what you are listening to.

Ripping Your Own MP3s

The power of MP3 software such as iTunes comes when you rip your CDs onto your iMac's hard drive where you can listen to them anytime you like, as well as copy them to other devices, such as a portable MP3 player or burned onto a CD. "Ripping" a CD means to "read and encode" it from the digital audio format on an audio CD to a compressed digital audio format that can be stored on your iMac. Ripping doesn't mean to rip-off, or steal, the music. iTunes refers to the reading and encoding process as importing, which is technically accurate.

When you import the contents of a CD, each track (or just the tracks you select) is read from the disc, and its data is reformatted into a newer, much more compact format called MP3. Each track is then stored in its own file on your iMac's hard drive in a Music folder. iTunes automatically organizes the files into folders for the artists and album, as well as automatically naming the files based on the track names.


Based upon the MPEG digital motion picture compression schemes, MP3 is short for MPEG I Layer 3. It is a digital audio compression algorithm that achieves a compression factor of about 12 while preserving sound Quality. It does this by optimizing the compression according to the range of sound that people can actually hear. MP3 is currently the most powerful algorithm in a series of audio encoding standards, developed under sponsorship of the Motion Picture Experts Group and formalized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). MP3 files (filename extension ".MP3") can be downloaded from many Web sites and can be played by using software available for most operating systems. MP3 files are usually downloaded completely before playing, but streaming MP3 data is also possible.

Importing Music from a CD

It is very easy to import the music of a CD into MP3 files on your iMac. Simply insert the CD into your iMac, select the CD from the ,source list, and click the Import button at the top-right of the iTunes window. Then it's just a matter of waiting.

iTunes will automatically convert the digital audio into MP3 files and store them on your hard drive, as well as adding them to the Library. It will take some time to read each track and process the data, displaying a progress bar and an estimate of the encoding speed. iTunes will automatically play the music as it is encoded.

The speed of the importing will be reduced if you do other things on your iMac such as use other software or listen to different music from the same CD you are encoding.

If you are interested in importing a collection of CDs, perhaps dozens or hundreds, you can set 'Tunes to automatically Import the contents of a CD when it is inserted and then automatically eject it when it is done. To specify this action, choose Preferences from the bottom of 'Tunes' Edit menu and then use the CD Insert pop-up menu to specify the action you'd like 'Tunes to take when a CD is inserted. Keep in mind that each full CD of music you add will average about 60 megs of space on your hard drive-every 10 CDs about 600 megs, and every 100 CDs about 6 gigs-of course, the space requirements can vary depending on the length of the music and the quality of encoding that you choose.

MP3 Encoding Options

The MP3 digital audio format is flexible in its encoding methods, offering the possibility of smaller files of lower quality and larger files of higher quality. In general, at better quality settings, MP3 will reduce the size of audio data (as compared to the raw format of digital audio on a CD) to one-tenth its size. 'Tunes allows you to modify the MP3 encoding settings (as well as choose other encoding formats) from the Advanced settings within its Preferences.

The configuration menu offers three standard settings; Good Quality, Better Quality, and High Quality, as well as custom configuration. Which one you choose will depend on your needs and concerns for quality reproduction. If you are listening to music on your 'Mac, you have little need to be concerned about saving hard drive space and probably want higher quality audio reproduction. However, if you use a portable MP3 player with a very limited memory capacity, then you'll want to use a more aggressive encoding to make files that you use with it smaller, sacrificing some level of quality.

    DIGITAL AUDIO COMPRESSION Working with digital sound has been limited for many years because it requires over 10 megs of data for each minute of CDQuality digital sound data. This is why the Compact Disc that holds about 740 melts of music data has been so successful-it is an easy way to transport such large amounts of data. However, this is all raw, uncompressed audio data and recently great strides have been made to compress digital audio while maintaining reasonable Quality. In fact, the average MP3 file is compressing CD-Quality audio to about 1/12 of its raw size (a full audio CD can be compressed to around 62 melts) while still maintaining nearly the same Quality audio. To make sound data smaller, there are two realms of techniques those that don't affect the sound directly and those that alter the sound, reducing it to only what is perceivable. The first techniques use methods such as compression of silence to simplify the digital representation of blank bits or constant tones into reduced descriptions, as well as by joining channels when possible (when stereo sounds are equal they are mono). The second techniques use methods that are based on careful scientific observation of human hearing to throw away sound data that cannot be easily perceived. This includes understanding how hearing is sensitive in different frequency ranges; humans can hear between 20Hz and 20,00OHz, but are most clearly sensitive between 2,00OHz and 4,000 Hz, so more data is devoted t8 sounds in this range. There is also an effect of sound masking, where sounds in some frequencies cover over sounds in other frequencies and so those masked sounds can be rendered less perfectly with less data or eliminated altogether. Another method called temporal masking is related to detail within sounds; for example, Quieter sounds cannot be heard if they follow a louder sound for a short period of time, and so can be eliminated.
All these techniques and others can be applied together to significantly reduce the bulk of audio data while maintaining the perception that it is unaltered. Most software for encoding compressed audio data provides options foryou to determine how strongly to filter the audio data with these techniques so that the Quality of the sound can vary depending on the choices of the user and may not sound Quite as perfect as the original uncompressed data. Audio that is highly compressed may sound a bit flat or fuzzy, but this might sound perfectly acceptable if the source is spoken text rather than a symphonic orchestra.

MP3 Tags

In addition to the audio data itself, the MP3 format includes special information tags that catalog the music in MP3 files. Each file can have a variety of tags that keep track of the music's title, artist, album, year of publication, track number, as well as miscellaneous notes, relative volume levels, and encoding options. When you import music using iTunes, it looks up the appropriate information for a CD from the Internet and automatically tags the files it creates with as much information as it can find.

You can view and edit the MP3 tags for a selection using iTunes by choosing Get Info from the File menu or by pressing $8-I. The Get Info window will display fixed information about the MP3 file, the editable tags, and options specific to iTunes. iTunes also provides buttons at the bottom of the Get Info window to display the previous or next tracks if you want to see or edit them in series. If you select multiple tracks before choosing Get Info, you will be presented with a special window for editing them all at once as a batch.

Creating Your Own Playlists

The real power of iTunes is unleashed by its ability to build a playlist and by its playback modes. Because having a really large collection of music on your iMac is like having your own jukebox or radio station, iTunes uses the power of a computer to provide advanced means for organizing and playing music from your collection. You can use its playlist features to build a list of music to play, ...

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Meet the Author

Hans Hansen is the author of five books on using Macintosh computers, including Zen and the Art of Resource Editing and The Tao of AppleScript. For ten years he was a contributor to the Berkeley Macintosh Users Group and editor-in-chief of the prestigious BMUG Newsletter. Hans is a founder and the chief technology officer of Octavo, a digital imaging company specializing in high-resolution electronic access to rare books and manuscripts for libraries and institutions around the world (www. octavo. com).

Hans enjoys writing about and playing with his multitude of Macs and other technological wonders, as well as hiking along the Pacific coast, cooking organic meals, drinking good wine and stout, driving his SAAB, and otherwise getting away from the digital universe. Hans is a photographer and digital image composer, as well as a typesetter and book designer, who lives and works in Oakland, California. If you'd like to know more about Hans, or better yet, tell him about yourself, you can visit his iMac on the Internet. Just surf on over to www. hanshansen. com, or email him at

Brad Miser has been living the Macintosh Way ever since he first glimpsed the mighty Macintosh SE (say, "that's a nice machine, but the screen is so small"). In the years since, Brad has written extensively about all things Macintosh. Brad loves to help people get the most out of their Macs, and has even been known to occasionally provide help where none is desired. He hopes that his books help people make the most of the best personal computer on earth.

When he is not "making pages," Brad also loves movies as well as any sort of gadget, which has resulted in a deep-seated fascination with digital video and a great appreciation for iMovie. By day, Brad is an engineer (who likes to write?-you must be kidding) who develops technical documentation, online help systems, and other stuff'for Mezzia, Inc. (www. me zzia. com). He has also been a proposal specialist for Rolls-Royce, a development editor for Pearson Education, and a test officer for the U.S. Army.

In addition to The iMac Way, Brad has written many other Mac books including Special Edition Using Mac OS X, The Mac OS X Guide, The Mac OS 9 Guide, The Complete Idiot's Guide to iMovie 2, The Complete Idiot's Guide to the iBook, The Complete Idiot's Guide to the iMac, and Using Mac OS 8.5.

Brad would love to hear from you about your experiences with this book (the good, the bad, and the ugly). You can write to him at

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