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iTunes Tune-up 10: Natural selection

Ralph Graves is one of Crutchfield's blog editors, and part of the company's social media team. He writes about home audio/video gear, specializing in Apple-related and wireless technologies. Ralph holds a master's degree in music composition, and his works have been released on various labels. He's served as product manager for an independent classical and world music label, produced several recordings, and worked extensively in public broadcasting. Since 1984 he's hosted a weekly classical music program on WTJU, and is also active as a blogger and podcaster.

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Ripping a CD to iTunes is simple enough. But moving a large collection of music from compact disc to iTunes can be time-consuming. Here are three simple tips I've discovered to make the process go a little faster. It may only take a few seconds off the process when I'm transferring a selection of songs from just one CD, but when I'm ripping several (or several dozen) discs in one sitting, I've found these tricks to be real time-savers.

Tip 1: Turn off the autoload.

When iTunes detects an audio CD, it asks if you want to automatically import all the tracks. Do more than just select "no." Check the "Do not ask me again" box. This keeps the prompt from bringing things to a halt every time you put a new CD in the tray. Don't worry - if you really want to load the entire CD, there's an easy way to do it. Read on.

 Tip 2: Grab songs in groups.

If you want to import several adjacent tracks, hold down the Shift key and highlight the first and last tracks you want. iTunes will autoselect all the tracks in between. You can then bring everything into your library with just one mouse drag.

Want to rip the whole album? On your PC, press down the Ctrl key and the "A" key together (for the Mac, use the Apple key and the "A" key). This automatically select all the tracks and you can drag and drop them all at one time.

 Tip 3: Pick and choose -- simultaneously.

Suppose you only want to import tracks 1, 9 and 14 from your CD into iTunes. You can drag each song individually - but that takes time. There's a quick and easy way to select non-adjacent tracks using a variation of the key commands in Tip 2. On your PC press down the Shift and Ctrl keys together, and use your cursor to select the tracks you want (on the Mac use the Shift and Apple keys). Once you've finished cherry-picking the best songs on the album, you can bring your selections over to your iTunes library with a single drag of the mouse.

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