Importing audiobooks with iTunes 7

by Michael Alderete on 10/12/2006 · 55 comments

The most popular page on this site is my instructions for How to Import Audio CD audiobooks into iTunes. The process has changed slightly with iTunes 7, and while I’ve been meaning to publish all new instructions, with an improved process and additional details, it just hasn’t happened yet. So, in the meantime, and to answer the many reader questions I’ve received, here are the main differences you might run into. It really boils down to just three changes:

Change to Import Settings

One option has changed in the Preferences > Advanced > Importing preference panel, what should iTunes do when you insert a new CD. There are a couple new options, and the one you want has changed, from Show Songs to Show CD. Here’s the updated settings panel for my Optimal iTunes Import Settings description:

iTunes 7 Import Settings

Change to Start Import

The button for importing a CD has moved, from the top right corner to the bottom right corner. It no longer has an icon (it’s a text-only button now), and it only appears when you have a CD inserted and ready to import. Seems to have hidden itself from a lot of people.

Change to Expectations

When you import an audiobook using my instructions, it will appear in the Music source list, which is not what people are expecting. The expectation is that it will go into the Audiobooks section, but that won’t happen without more work.

I’ll provide more details in the revised instructions; for now, you can read through the FAQ for the information about putting tracks into the Audiobooks menu on the iPod; the steps involved are the same.

mike July 27, 2008 at 6:46 pm

Thanks Alderete, I notice in your FAQ that iTunes won’t recognize it as an audiobook if it was imported at above 64 kbps — mine is at 128 !!! If your suggestion works, it still won’t be in audiobooks. I was planning to select all and “convert to AAC” (at a lower bit rate with voice optimization) and then delete the old ones. However will the newly made AAC files keep the .m4b extension (which I laboriously altered earlier) or will they revert back to .m4a ?

mike July 27, 2008 at 6:52 pm

I need an important clarification: Should I just copy “all” the specific audiobook files onto the desktop, then delete the ones in iTunes and then drag the files from the desktop back into iTunes, or do you mean I should copy ALL of my entire iTunes music folder library onto the desktop, delete the music folder and then ditto?

mike July 27, 2008 at 7:03 pm

Oops, sorry for being stupid…I just re-read the FAQ, I copy the audiobook files from the FILE MANAGER in windows, onto the desktop, then go to iTunes and delete the relevant audiobook files (which are still in the file manager because I COPIED them), then I drag the desktop files back into iTunes music library (or do I drop it into iTunes audiobooks?). I hope I’ve got this right.

mike July 30, 2008 at 7:43 am

UPDATE: I tried this and it doesn’t work. I’m pulling my hair out.

What do I do with the file on my desktop? I dragged it back from whence it came, but then when I go into iTunes there are no corresponding song files to click because I deleted them (with the !)

I also have mp3 zip files of audiobooks in the download file(folder?) but how do I import them? I am very rusty with windows and can’t figure it out (I know it is something blindingly simple but I can’t work it out - embarrassing!)

Sorry to clog up your comments section, but I’ve been trying to sort this out over three days. There is some piece to the puzzle I’m not getting (or more likely, “pieces” plural!)


Alderete July 30, 2008 at 1:59 pm

@mike: Let me try to be more clear how what to do here:

  1. After you have properly imported/encoded your audiobook tracks into iTunes (see my various instructions documents), select the tracks in the iTunes Library window and drag them to your Desktop (or a folder, or wherever). This will copy the tracks out of iTunes.

  2. Delete the tracks from iTunes. When asked about moving them to the trash, do so.

  3. If you have not already changed the file extensions of the tracks to .m4b, do so now, on the copies on the desktop.

  4. Drag the tracks from the desktop into the iTunes Library window. This will re-add the books to iTunes. Once they have been copied back into iTunes, you can delete the copies of the tracks on your desktop.

Please note: Yes, this is a giant pain in the ass. It’s only required on Windows, and only if you want things in the Audiobooks source list.

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