This all started when I was walking down the street with my iPod in “Shuffle Songs” mode. I was totally groovin’ and then suddenly a slow song came on and tanked my momentum. Yes, I know I could’ve just skipped to the next track, but it was kind of a bummer and I thought that there must be a way to make a playlist of only faster songs. There’s a BPM (beats per minute) info field on all my music tracks, but alas none of them have the info filled in. So I turn to the internet for more free software to help me supe up my iTunes/iPod experience.
iTunes-BPM Inspector (and Tangerine)
The solution I found for adding BPM information is called iTunes-BPM Inspector. It’s not a new program, but it’s good. A floating window appears with a button that you click while playing a song in iTunes. As you press the button to the beat, the program tells you the BPM of your clicking. Once you reach the correct number (the number turns blue), simply hit Set and iTunes-BPM Inspector will drop it straight into your track’s meta-information. It’s really very easy and iTunes-BPM Inspector even has a little graphic that switches and two little lights that toggle to the beat so you can test that you’ve got the number right. Once all the tracks have their BPM info, it’s a snap to create a smart playlist for tracks that have a certain BPM and up — pure uninterrupted strutting can commence! (By the way, it may seem like a lot of work to do this for each track, but it actually becomes kind of fun. There’s no easier way to get into a song than to tap the mouse to its rhythm.) There’s also a cool program called Tangerine which does all the BPM analysis for you (at a zippy 3 songs per second), but you have to pay $25 for it. For those of you without the time or inclination to do it all manually Tangerine’s an incredibly painless way to go (you might want to check out the free trial).
While we’re on the iTunes topic, I thought I would mention a few other little add-ons that I like to use.
If you are interested in lyrics, this free little Dashboard widget will grab them for you every time you play a track in iTunes. (It’s a bit of a trick because you have to switch on your Dashboard for it to do the lyric search, but that’s not too tough.) You can follow along with the song as it plays, or the widget also includes the option to write the lyrics to the audio track each time it finds them so you can take them with you on your iPod.
For those of us fond of album art (especially for using with Cover Flow, where we just can’t tolerate the generic clear square that appears when we don’t have album art for a track), this widget is perfect. Whenever you encounter a track that just doesn’t seem to retrieve any album art using the handy dandy right-click in iTunes (like Madonna’s Grammy-winning album, Ray of Light), just click on this widget and it will go to Amazon.com to retrieve all the different covers that it finds. Click the bar to set the album art in iTunes and voila!
This is another free program which you can set to run whenever iTunes is on. It will display a semi-transparent window at the bottom of your screen with the track info and album art. If you turn on a setting, it will get song lyrics for you as well. There are many other settings that you can customize to your own style (for example, one option will make the window vanish whenever the mouse pointer runs into it.)
Bottom line is that while iTunes is a great program to use for your many music needs, there are a number of add-ons to make things even better.