Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, December 14, 2008 4:00 pm

iTunes/iPod Shuffle questions

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 4:00 pm
Tags: , ,

Having been unable to find the answers on Apple’s site, I now turn to the wisdom of Teh Intertubes to try to solve a problem Ann is having with her iPod Shuffle.

The main problem: Music is dying off the Shuffle. She had the thing close to full, and then all but two songs disappeared from it. This has happened twice now. She and I are both mystified. Is this a Shuffle problem or an iTunes problem?

And a question: Is there any way to set up separate music libraries in iTunes for separate users on a PC (i.e., if you log in as one user, you have a separate iTunes music library from what you’d have if you logged in as a different user, assuming both users have set up music libraries.

And another question: Where on the PC does iTunes store its music library (i.e., in what directory/folder?). I’ve gone looking (including in My Documents\My Music, whence I first imported music into iTunes) but haven’t found it. A search by *.mp3 doesn’t turn it up, either.

Finally, how do you get iTunes to play a truly random sampling from the entire music library? When I try, I get only recently imported tunes, and when I hit “random” twice in the same session, I get the same songs I got when I hit random the first time.

Thanks in advance for any help anyone can offer.


  1. Music dying on the Shuffle: This is a weird one. Do you have multiple accounts with the iTunes store — one for Lex, one for Ann, and so on? If so, music downloaded from Apple will only sync to the Shuffle one account at a time.

    Music libraries: The key here is that the music library *file* points to the location of the music files on your hard drive; just pedantically making sure we’re talking about the same thing. By default, the music library file “iTunes Music Library.xml” and it’s cohorts sits in your user directory at C:\Documents and Settings\(your account on the computer)\My Documents\My Music\iTunes. Also by default, the music files on your computer are stored in the subfolder C:\Documents and Settings\(your account on the computer)\My Documents\My Music\iTunes\iTunes Music.

    On installation, iTunes asks whether you’re willing to allow it to copy your music files to the iTunes Music folder and keep them organized based on the information you (or the iTunes Music Store) provide about the song for the metadata of the file. So unless you tell it otherwise, iTunes will make sure that the live version of Solsbury Hill lives in this spot on your hard drive:

    C:\Documents and Settings\(your account on the computer)\Documents\My Music\iTunes\iTunes Music\Peter Gabriel\Plays Live\2-02 Solsbury Hill (Live).m4p

    Also by default, iTunes rips CDs in the AAC format, with an .m4a extension. DRMed music from the iTunes store has an .m4p extension; DRM-free music is .m4a. Surely you’ve got MP3 files that should be showing up in a Windows file search, however.

    You can check whether any of these defaults have been changed in Edit/Preferences…/General/(Import Settings button) and Edit/Preferences…/Advanced/(iTunes Music Folder information at the top of the window).

    There are a couple of ways to set up separate music libraries. Assuming you and Ann log into separate Windows user accounts, you could do what Shannon and I did (before just up and copying all the music over to her computer so she could manage her iPods more easily). Create a new folder for iTunes music here:

    C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Music\iTunes\iTunes Music

    Copy your music files to that directory, then when you and Ann separately log into your computer from your accounts, go into the advanced preferences and declare that folder your new iTunes library folder. For this to work you have to let iTunes do the organizing for both of you, otherwise one of you might move a file and have the other’s library get confused. Also, all purchased iTunes content needs to come from the same store account. Shannon and I buy all our music with my iTunes account so we can listen to it on whatever computer or iPod.

    Finally, to shuffle through the entire music library on the computer, select “Music” under Library on the left column, then click the button that looks like an X with two arrows on the bottom of the iTunes window. That’s the shuffle button, and it should have the run of your library.

    Comment by Chip — Sunday, December 14, 2008 11:05 pm @ 11:05 pm

  2. the music library file “iTunes Music Library.xml” and it’s cohorts sits in your user directory

    I hereby surrender my grammar license.

    Comment by Chip — Sunday, December 14, 2008 11:06 pm @ 11:06 pm

  3. Can I copy all the songs on my ipod nano into a itunes library? I have purchased a new computer – my current ipod music is not in the library and I want to download more music to my ipod without losing the current music.

    Comment by Lorraine — Sunday, July 12, 2009 12:34 pm @ 12:34 pm

  4. I don’t know, Lorraine.

    Comment by Lex — Sunday, July 12, 2009 1:18 pm @ 1:18 pm

  5. Is there anyway I can save the current songs on my ipod while downloading new music from itunes. I have a new computer and lost my library songs currently on my ipod?

    Comment by Lorraine — Sunday, July 12, 2009 7:19 pm @ 7:19 pm

  6. I do not know.

    Comment by Lex — Sunday, July 12, 2009 10:26 pm @ 10:26 pm

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