updated 08:00 am EST, Tue November 15, 2011
Consolidating music, upgrading tracks
Apple finally flipped the switch on iTunes Match, its $25-per-year service that automatically identifies what songs a user owns and provides iTunes-quality (256kbps AAC) matches available on any of the user's internet-connected mobile devices or computers. Within hours, MacWorld magazine had posted a pair of tips to help users with multiple US iTunes accounts consolidate their libraries, and to make replacing lower-bitrate copies of songs easier.
Staffer Serenity Caldwell found that any music purchased under another Apple ID that is authorized to play on the computer a user has used to set up iTunes Match will also show up as "matched," essentially treating such song files -- even protected DRM files from before iTunes switched to a non-DRM format -- as the user's own files from another source. The old file can then be deleted and the upgraded song "re-downloaded" from iCloud.
The catch, however, is that if an alternate ID tied to another machine is ever de-authorized, the DRM songs associated with that account will be removed from iCloud. This allows families to unify music collections under a single Apple ID account using iTunes Match.
The same technique also allows users to replace all the lower-bitrate songs in their current collection with higher-quality files from iTunes Match, this time using a Smart Playlist to quickly identify and replace en masse only those songs that are lower than 256-bit. Users start by being sure they have completely turned iTunes Match on, then create a Smart Playlist in their iTunes library on their computer that matches all of the following conditions: bit rate is less than 256kbps, and Media Kind is Music.
There's more to it, however; holding down the option while clicking the plus button to add a third rule to the playlist reveals the ability to set conditions to "any" rather than "all" on the next set of options. So under the "any" set of options, users would add these additional conditions: iCloud Status is Matched, and iCloud Status is Purchased. This creates a playlist of all files that are upgradeable.
Once the playlist is made, users select all the tracks in the playlist, hold the Option key down and press delete, which forces iTunes to delete the selected tracks. The program will offer to move the files to the trash, which the user should agree to, but will also have a checkbox that offers to delete them from iCloud, which users should of course not do.
All the track titles will remain in the playlist after deleting, because those songs are now eligible to be re-downloaded. Select them all again, control-click on the selection and choose to re-download them. If your playlist was large, this may take some time. [via MacWorld]