How to remove expired rental movies from your iPhone or iPad

Something that’s been annoying me over the last few weeks is that a couple of movies I had rented from the iTunes Store were not deleting from my iPad’s storage space. They were not showing up within the iPad’s ‘Sync Movies’ panel in iTunes, which is where you can transfer films from computer to iPad or vice versa. They were still showing up within the iPad’s Videos app, though. Attempting to play them produced an error, as you’d expect – but attempting to delete them via the usual method (hold down for a few seconds then tap the black cross, as works for apps) caused the Videos app to crash with the movies still there.

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How to list your audiobooks in iTunes’ Audiobooks pseudo-category

Update: With iTunes 8, moving tracks into the Audiobooks category is now trivial: Go into the track’s file information (Ctrl-I or Apple-I) and change the dropdown item on the Options tab. However, if you want to rip audiobook CDs and convert tracks to chapters, the following may still be use.

One of the reasons I distrust the new version of iTunes (see _[Why I hate iTunes 7](http://matthewman.net/2006/09/22/why-i-hate-itunes-7)_) is the utter uselessness of its new Library structure. In particular, its new Audiobooks category seems to be locked off from any books you’ve ripped yourself. Setting the Genre type of each file to “Audiobooks” isn’t enough.

Nudged by a comment from Rob, I did some digging around, and it appears that audio files will show up in the Audiobooks section if they’re bookmarkable MPEG Layer 4 files — or, in iTunes parlance, “Protected AAC files”.

On a Windows PC, it **may** be possible to get your AAC files — which should end in the extension **`.m4a`** — simply by renaming them so that the extension is **`.m4b`** (I can’t vouch for this, though, as I’m working on a Mac).

Macs are slightly trickier to deal with, anyway, as files have an internally-held file type, which must also be altered. However, I did find a couple of scripts on [Doug’s Scripts](http://www.dougscripts.com) which help.

* **[Make Bookmarkable](http://www.dougscripts.com/itunes/scripts/ss.php?sp=makebookmarkable)** converts your AAC-encoded files to their bookmarkable version, then updates their iTunes entry so that they move to the Audiobooks section.
* **[Join Together](http://www.dougscripts.com/itunes/scripts/ss.php?sp=jointogether)** allows you to combine multiple files from the iTunes Library, optionally placing chapter marks and track artwork at the appropriate sections. However, this script requires **QuickTime Pro** and Apple’s **ChapterTool** command-line utility. It can also be very slow if you don’t check the “Passthrough” option in the QuickTime settings part of the dialog.

A bonus of both scripts is that your recordings will also show up under the iPod’s own `Audiobooks` category. Bear in mind though that, unlike the standard Music folders, it doesn’t group tracks by album. So if you decide to use Make Bookmarkable, or don’t have Quicktime Pro, you could end up with lots of individual files showing up. In that case, you could consider re-importing the original audio from CD, grouping data tracks to encode as a single file.

Why I hate iTunes 7

Okay, “hate” is too strong a word — that’s the sensationalist subeditor in me, I guess. But there was something bugging me about the latest update, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I knew that it wasn’t the new, drab, grey look — it wouldn’t have been my choice, admittedly; also, it’s a shame that Apple, who impressed me when I became a Mac OSX convert with their User Interface Guidelines, do more than any other company to repeatedly flout them.

The new album view and the CoverFlow view are nice as far as they go, so it wasn’t that. I have to admit I don’t care for the restyled iTunes Music Store, and am infuriated that, in all the talk of Apple selling full-length movies to America, very few people have noticed that they’ve stopped selling even short films to us in the UK. But I only tend to use the store for a small amount of time iTunes is running, so I knew that couldn’t be what was irritating me so.

That’s when it hit me. It’s because my own library is now structured according to how Apple want to sell me stuff.

Movies and TV shows are what Apple is pushing in a big way — to American audiences, anyway. Now that short films have been lost to the ether, the only video content you can buy from the iTunes Store are music videos — and they get pushed into the generic ‘Music’ category. iTunes adds a ‘Music Videos’ smart playlist automatically, but why should it need to? It would be far better to mirror the way my iPod structures its library, with **Videos** having separate subcategories depending on the type of video content.

At least with video content that I have loaded in myself, I can change the **Video Kind** parameter of each film so that it appears in the appropriate category. However, any audiobooks that I’ve bought on CD and ripped to MP3 remain firmly stuck in “Music”. The Audiobooks category remains firmly the preserve of iTunes Store purchases, it seems — in other words, completely useless. Yes, I can switch both it and iPod Games off in iTunes’ preferences. But I’d much rather be able to add my own content to it.

It’s this twisted attitude — structuring iTunes according how they want to sell to us, rather than making it as easy to use as possible and _inspiring_ us to buy — that really pisses me off.

It’s ironic, really. The MiniStore was another way in which Apple tried to convert normal iTunes usage into a sales tool, but that’s been severely relegated in version 7. There’s no button to activate or deactivate it any more, and the shortcut key has disappeared; hopefully the whole feature will go the same way in version 8. But the philosophy behind it seems to be present still. And that, I really **do** hate.