UI Design

Ripping Audiobook CDs with iTunes

Posted on Jan 17, 2010 in Hints, Opinions, UI Design

iTunes made it easy for everyone and their mother to finally join the digital music revolution. Ripping music CDs is straightforward and fairly easy to do, as is buying music via the iTunes Store.

But I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve showed friends and relatives how to import their audiobook / spoken word CDs properly. It was also one of the questions I was most often asked whilst working at an Apple retailer. There are a ton of tools and tutorials on the net that also address this issue, which seems to suggest people continue to struggle with this problem.

By default, iTunes imports CDs as individual tracks and adds them to your “Music” library. To rip something as an audiobook in iTunes 9:

  • Select all tracks
  • Choose Advanced > Join CD tracks
  • Select Import Settings and choose “Spoken Podcast”
  • Import CD
  • Select imported tracks, File > Get Info
  • Under options, select “Media Kind: Audiobook”

To make things easier, I would suggest Apple add a simple option screen, similar to the one they currently show if you select an empty media category.

This is a mockup of what it could look like:

With millions of iTunes users out there, I’m sure this would help a fair number of people, without being troublesome for other users.Comedy CDs and childrens stories continue to be popular on CDs so it’s not just audiobooks that could be ripped with this option. One could even envision some of the other import options being exposed this way, e.g. a “Import losslessly” option.

Anyway, food for thought.

Image credit: Audiobook icon by Splasm Software, Inc.

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Jetlinked: 20 Beautiful Mac apps

Posted on Jan 16, 2010 in JetLinks, Mac, Opinions, UI Design

Designreviver has a nice list of 20 Beautiful Mac apps that is worth checking out. There are only a few picks I disagree with:

  • Pixelmator’s black icons on a HUD window background have always bothered me and seem like a bad UI choice
  • iStatmenus is pretty, but never feels very Mac-like
  • TuneUp is the antithesis of a beautiful Mac app. It leeches onto iTunes and looks & feels more like a Firefox plugin than a Mac app.

But the list has a few lesser-known entries as well, so it’s worth reading for a few gems that you don’t see on every other list (I’m typing this in blogo which I hadn’t heard of before…).


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JetLinked: Tweetie for Mac

Posted on Apr 22, 2009 in JetLinks, Mac, UI Design

Tweetie for Mac logoEnough has been said about Tweetie for Mac, so I’m just going to link to it, in case you’ve been living under a rock and have missed it.

Bottom line is: The UI is fantastic, support for dragged in images is great and I believe it sets the bar a little higher for UI design on the Mac in general.

There are some additional features I’d like to see at some point, but from the look of the responses on Atebit’s Get Satisfaction page, some of them are already planned.

  • Support for stored searches
  • Sync state with the mobile version and across Mac

You can find out more about Tweetie on the Atebits website.

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iPhoto ’09 UI Observations

Posted on Jan 31, 2009 in Mac, Opinions, UI Design

Good artists copy, great artists steal.

We all know that Apple sets the bar for UI design in its own applications and most 3rd party apps try to follow Apple’s lead. That makes it all the more interesting to see Apple “borrowing” design cue’s from 3rd party developers.

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Spotlight suggestion: Tab between groups

Posted on Jan 22, 2009 in Mac, Opinions, UI Design

picture-151I’ve gone back and forth between using Spotlight or using a 3rd party tool (I’ve given up on Quicksilver, but I have high hopes for Google’s Quick Search Box by the same developer) might be to quickly access apps and files. I’d prefer to use a built-in tool to be honest, but Spotlight never seems to quite cut it.

A big improvement would be the ability to tab between the different result categories, similar to the way you can tab between other UI elements That would allow users to get to their goal faster and would also make the behaviour feel more consistent with the rest of the operating system.

A few additional commands or the ability to launch web searches would also be nice, but better search results and navigation of those results would be a great start.

Here’s hoping for 10.6!


Aaand of course I just couldn’t find the right shortcut.  In the comments my colleague pointed out a tweet by Scott Stevenson with exactly the shortcut I was after. Thanks Albert & Scott!

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Google Chrome: First Impressions

Posted on Sep 2, 2008 in Opinions, The web, UI Design

Well, Chrome is here and so far I’m pretty impressed. Although currently only available for Windows (you can’t actually download the Windows version if your browser identifies you as a Mac user – I had to select a Windows user agent for the download page to let me download it) it’s quite snappy, even running under Parallels. 

I had no trouble loading any pages and even complex pages such as my netvibes.com customized homepage (which is slow to load on other browsers) seemed to load very quickly (and this was in a virtual machine!).

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