Making the most of the storage space available to you on your iPhone or iPod just got a whole lot easier thanks to a nifty iTunes software update from Apple. If you are, as I was, running low on free space on your iPhone or iPod touch, this news should be music to your ears.
Using this method I will describe, I freed 8.5gb of storage space previously occupied by my large library of music synced to my iPhone. No music was lost. There was no real noticeable deterioration in the quality of sound coming from my earphones. The process did take 9 hours to complete, but it was well worth the wait in my mind!
iTunes 9.1 introduces the ability to “Convert higher bit rate songs to 128 kbps AAC” on your iPhone and iPod Touch devices. This essentially means adding additional compression to the music you have purchased or ripped to iTunes, reducing the size of each song file, and allowing you to keep more music (or other data) on your Apple portable device. And it does the job without degrading the quality of the music stored on your computer – only your portable device!
If you are total music nut like me, this is very exciting news. I am constantly fighting a losing battle to keep as much of the music I love as possible on my iPhone, even with the 32gb iPhone 3GS.
The downside of adding additional compression to songs is the process will reduce the sound quality of your music slightly. But for the vast majority of people who listen to music through cheap earphones while out and about, this degradation will be pretty much undetectable.
The really cool thing about this new feature in iTunes is the compression is done on the fly as songs are synced to your iPhone or iPod Touch. This means iTunes will not mess with the higher-quality audio files you have in your iTunes library currently, and will not store the same songs twice on your personal computer either. Apple has done a really fantastic job implementing this feature.
So I was intrigued how much of the 25.95gb of music stored on my iPhone could be reclaimed by using this new convert to AAC feature. Be warned, the first time you enable this option and click sync, it can take several hours (or longer) to convert your music and complete the synchronisation process. My 25.95gb of iPhone synced music took around 9 hours to re-sync and fully convert. So do this when you have some free time to go out and complete some of those boring chores, or better still while you are sleeping, leaving your Mac or PC puffing away processing all the music from your iTunes library destined for your iPhone/iPod Touch.
We shall begin:
1. The first step is to make sure you have updated your software to iTunes 9.1 (or better). On a Mac, it’s as simple as clicking the Apple logo at the top left of your screen, and clicking “Software Update”. If there are software updates available for iTunes, they will be detected and offered to you to download and install. If you are on Windows, click Help > About iTunes > and the version number will scroll up. If you need to update iTunes, you can download the latest version from here: http://www.apple.com/itunes/
2. The next step is to start-up iTunes, connect your iPhone (or iPod Touch) device to your computer and let iTunes detect it.
3. Once iTunes has detected your device, click on its icon in Devices to bring up the summary tab display in iTunes. It is from the Summary section that you will be able to activate the new “Convert higher bit rate songs to 128 kbps AAC” feature for your device. So go ahead and check the option.
4. In this next step, iTunes will delete all the stored music on your iPhone or iPod Touch, and begin re-syncing it to your device in the lower bit rate 128 kbps AAC format. With the “Convert higher bit rate songs to 128 kbps AAC” still checked from step 3 above, you can click sync to begin the conversion process.
Be warned: If you have a large library of music syncing to your iPhone or iPod touch, like me, you should probably go away for a few hours and let your computer work away. When I returned after approximately 9 hours, the 25.95gb library of music on my iPhone had been trimmed down to less than 17.5gb – without the loss of a single song.
The Taste Test
The next step for me was to play a few of the tracks I had purchased from the iTunes music store to see if my listening experience would be degraded. I can confirm Alicia Keys – Why Do I feel So Bad – sounded as good as ever to my trained ears.
Once you too are satisfied with the results of the taste test, you can feel free to begin syncing more music (or other digital content) to your iPhone or iPod Touch device – without incurring the financial cost of upgrading to a higher-capacity model (if one exists).