iPod & iTunes—The Missing Manual, 3rd Edition, by J.D Biersdorfer, edited by David Pogue, ISBN0-596-00877-5

Reviewed by: Greg Carson, July 2005
Published by: Pogue Press/O'Reilly
Requires: N/A
MSRP: US$24.95, CDN$34.95, UK£17.50

I've never been one to really read through or use a manual. >From video games to business oriented software/hardware, I've always been a person who relies on intuition, experimentation and exploration to learn the functions of a new program. This has served me fairly well in the past. However, when I purchased my iPod and installed iTunes for Windows I knew right away that the device and the software have some very powerful features which (considering the price I paid for the iPod at least) should not be neglected. Yet, there was no illustrious 400 page manual to intricately detail all of the nuances and opportunities presented by my new purchase. Enter iPod & iTunes—The Missing Manual (subtitle: "The book that should have been in the box").

This manual really does contain everything you could imagine related to iPods and iTunes, from troubleshooting for iTunes on PC and Mac to reviews and advertisements of designer iPod accessories. It discusses the advantages of Firewire over USB, and if you feel like upgrading shows how to install a Firewire card, diagrams and all. Every feature on the iPod is thoroughly investigated and outlined with clear instructions on usage. Every question I ever struggled to resolve, every quirk in iTunes and my iPod was answered in the book.


There were many other things that the manual helped me to deal with too. For example, a lot of people struggled with using their iPod as a portable hard drive. There is a section in the manual dedicated to streamlining this problem with clear instructions on how to enable PC and Mac computers to read and extract data files from an iPod. It deals with iPod Shuffles and iPod Photos and the unique opportunities and problems that they present as well. There are too many topics and chapters to explore in this review but I can assure anyone who wants to get a little more oomph out of their iPod, that this book will show you how. Here are some key highlights:

  • Firewire installation and benefits
  • Apple earphones and iPod accessories discussion
  • Getting the most out of the iPod battery
  • iPod Shuffle and iPod Photo sections
  • Free and legal music links on the web
  • Walk-through of the iTunes Music Store
  • Chapter 5: Everything iTunes for Mac and PC
  • Using the iPod as a portable hard drive
  • Using the iPod to read eBooks
  • Using the iPod for visual and text-based adventure games
  • Listing of cool iPod hacks
  • How to connect your iPod to various devices (car stereo, home stereo, etc.)
  • A very thorough, 50 page troubleshooting section

There are no glaring omissions, the layout is solid, and the writing is even entertaining at times, most especially for a manual.

Steve Jobs and the Apple R&D team will claim outright that iTunes and the iPod are both magnificent feats of technology and design, and they may be right, but such achievements also carry a burden that must be shouldered. The iPod & iTunes innovation, given without proper instruction, can leave novice computer users and inexperienced tech consumers befuddled and confused. The hardware and program are not as intuitive as Apple thinks they are and I know a lot of users who struggled with basic settings like adjusting volume (yes, I witnessed one incident), syncing your iPod with your computer and iTunes, and arranging and uploading playlists to the iPod. Due to a lack of instruction and emphasis, I think there are also a lot of other features on the iPod such as the calendar, address book and notepad that are being left unused by a majority of iPod users.

The book is the result of an authoritative collaboration. Author J.D. Biersdorfer has been writing her Q & A column for the Circuits section of the New York Times since 1998. Editor David Pogue is the creator of Pogue Press/O'Reilly Publishing's acclaimed Missing Manual series and is also the technology review columnist for the New York Times.

The iPod is much more than a simple, high quality music player, but because little focus has been placed by Apple on advertising or educating iPod users (and prospective ones) about all of the terrific non-music features of the device, a lot of great programming and design work is being left unused and unappreciated. This manual helps to change all that and it is definitely worth picking up. Highly recommended.





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