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Computing With Bifocals
by Nancy Carroll Gravley

A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....

How I Got Burned Out Trying To Burn A CD
January 23rd, 2002

It was supposed to be easy. One of my daughters has a self produced CD and I wanted to make a copy of it for a friend. It should have been easy. My new iMac came with CD burning capabilities built right in and iTunes came with it as well. The best way I can describe iTunes is to think of it as the stereo that came with my computer. I had used iTunes before listening to music. I asked my daughter how to do it and she said "just follow the directions under the Help menu. It is a piece of cake." That should have been my first clue.

As soon as I put the new, blank CD in the computer I got this window. I had 3 options under Format - standard, iTunes, or MP3. I chose iTunes and clicked on Prepare.

Preparing the CD

Now the CD was ready to work with and the directions said to drag the music choice to the CD icon. Only problem was there was no CD icon on my desk top, nor was iTunes anywhere to be found. "OK, I'm basically a patient person," I said to myself. "I can solve this." So I used Sherlock to find iTunes. Once I opened iTunes the CD icon was visible on my desk top. I needed to add the music from the CD to my iTunes library. To do this I first double-clicked on the music CD. It automatically opened in an iTunes window.

iTunes Window Featuring The Music CD Contents

My next step, as instructed by the Help Window was to drag the songs to the new CD. They wouldn't go. So I called the kid and she said to click on the Import icon in the top right corner of the window. All the songs I had checked were imported. I knew this because of the action going on in the middle iTunes window. Of course, I didn't have a clue where they were going. I sat and looked at the screen waiting for something to happen. Finally I opened the Library listed in the far left column. There they all were. So I tried to move them, one by one to the CD. They wouldn't go. Did I say I was patient? It was fast disappearing.

I called the kid. She said I had to move all the songs together in a folder and I should choose the browse button that had replaced the import button in the far right of the window and then create a new playlist by choosing New Playlist from the File menu. This was an automatic process and the "All (1 Artist)" was added to the Playlist choices.

Playlist Window
(Click for a larger view)

I named the Playlist and went into the list and added the song titles. If I had been working with a commercial CD, the titles would be automatically entered as long as I was connected to the Internet.

Playlist With Song Titles

Then, while "in" my new playlist, I clicked on the Burn CD button that now appeared in the far right upper corner of the window. Things whirled and clicked and I sat back, happy to have finally made everything work. Then I got an error message saying that the burn attempt had failed. I tried it again and got the same message. At this point I said a few unacceptable things and walked away from the computer.

I came back of course, and called the kid once more. This time she just came over to my house. She said that with some CDs, if the user tries to burn at maximum level it will not work because it is too fast. She asked what I was using. I didn't even know what she was talking about so she showed me. She selected iTunes Preferences from the Edit menu and clicked on CD Burning. Sure enough, it was automatically set on Maximum. She said that 4X was a better choice. It was slower, but it usually worked. We saved the new setting and once again tried to burn the CD (which by this time was probably growing a beard). It actually worked.

iTunes Preference Choices

I opened the CD to make sure everything was really there and played it through to make sure there were no problems.

To say the Help Menu left out a few steps in this whole process is an understatement. Following are ALL the steps I had to follow to successfully burn this CD. By-the-way, once a CD-R is burned it can not be added to or reused so keep that in mind when deciding what to include in your playlist.

Necessary Steps To Burning A CD

  1. If you are copying from another CD, import the contents of the CD to your iTunes library by clicking on the "Import" button in iTunes. It will take a while. (For music already in your library, skip this step).
  2. Create a new playlist by choosing New Playlist from the File menu.
  3. Name the new playlist by clicking once on the current title and replacing with the title you want.
  4. Drag the songs you want to add to the playlist onto the playlist name. This will create the new playlist you will burn. (After you burn the CD you can erase the playlist if you don't want it anymore.)
  5. Choose iTunes Preferences from the Edit menu and click on CD Burning. When the window opens select the appropriate burn speed. I recommend 4X as a place to start. Once you have selected a Burn Speed it will not change unless you go in and manually change it so you don't have to repeat this step for later activities. If you know your CD burner is rated faster, you may want to start out at a faster speed.
  6. Click the Burn CD button.
  7. When the burning is finished (as signified by the messages in the middle iTunes window located below the iTunes name) the process is complete.

If you have any questions, comments, or tips, let me know and I may include them in a future column.

Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions  for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping.   To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.

Post your comments below.
Check out Nancy's complete index of all her columns for the most complete list of tips anywhere. The list is categorized and is a great reference when you are looking for help!

A Capacious Catalog Of Computer Tips

Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color, covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.

Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.

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