Outstreched arm

Monday, June 04, 2007

Prepare your computer for iPhone

Before I got my first iPod, I made sure I was familiar with iTunes. I imported all my music and organized it to some extent. I knew I didn't want "Track 01" on my iPod.

Before I got my current PowerBook, I first bought a case for it. I didn't want to risk any damage to it, so I got a (sturdy but ugly) Samsonite case.

Before I bought my last car, I first bought a detailing kit. No, seriously.

Little steps like that make you feel like you already own the product, and the utility is sometimes important as well (my friend Larry just got a MacBook Pro and dropped it in the first few days of ownership.) With that in mind, here are some steps you might want to take to make sure your iPhone comes to a welcoming home on June 29th (or whenever mortals can get their hands on one).

Clean up that Address Book. Remove old and bogus contacts. Add those you have on your phone (or in your organizer) but not in Address Book. Don't be afraid to add info beyond just people's digits - birthdays and mailing addresses come in handy. Dig through your photos and find some nice 256 x 256 px pictures to use (actually, use any large image - you can scale and crop in Address Book). If you don't have any, that's ok - you'll be able to take them with iPhone.

Create some Address Book groups if you have a lot of contacts. My groups include: Work, Family, Biz (local businesses - I call the pizza place a lot), Mac users (in case I'm sending something Mac-specific), Croatians (I'm from Croatia and sometimes I want to notify everyone of something in Croatian).

Use iCal. Maybe you already do - even so, clean it up and think about what all events and appointments it would be helpful to have on your phone. Don't be afraid to add events far off in the future to your calendar - I've added events for 2010. When I read about a movie I might be interested in, I add its release date to my iCal.

Make an iPhoto Smart Album for iPhone. Even with 8 GB of storage, chances are you won't want to carry all your digital pics on your iPhone. Do what you might be doing with your iPod or AppleTV already - make a Smart Album (in the File menu) of your photos from the last 30 days (or less, or more, depending on how much of a shutterbug you are).

Which brings us to...

Make some good iTunes Smart Playlists. Smart Playlists are absolutely beautiful. If you have one of them fancy 80 GB iPods, you may thumb your nose at them, but... you shouldn't. Here, for instance, is what I sync to my 4 GB Nano:

- 2 GB of songs not rated 1 or 2 stars, last played more than 5 days ago, not skipped in the last 7 days, selected randomly
- 500 MB of songs rated 4 or 5 stars, not played in the last 30 days, selected randomly ("Old friends")
- 200 MB of songs not rated 1 star, added in the last 30 days, selected by date added ("Recents")
- 100 MB of songs, selected by rating ("All-time faves")
- All unheard podcasts

There are some other factors there (I don't include certain genres, like Experimental, and I filter out videos and podcasts) but overall, it's a nice mix of random, kick-ass, good-but-not-overplayed, and recent songs. This same thing will go on my iPhone, leaving room (hopefully) for all the other iPhone stuff.

Clean up your Safari bookmarks. Make some bookmark groups. Mine are Business, Local, News, Research, Mac, Nerd. Remove things you once bookmarked only temporarily, add things you visit often, but always type in. Shorten gigantic bookmark names. Order bookmarks within groups.

Nothing new, right? These are all good habits to get into on any computer, but I think you'll find that when you combine iPhone's miniature form factor and sweet features, you'll want to include things you've probably ignored so far (Address Book pictures, I bet) and de-clutter things you've thrown all over your desktop because you have ample storage and screen space (bookmarks, iTunes).

Your iPhone will thank you.

There are 2 Comments:

Blogger Ulrik said...

Loved this.
I live in Denmark, so it's going to be a while before I can get my hands on an iPhone, but I've been doing excactly stuff like this.

It really does make you feel like you're making the phone better even before it's in your hands, and it does wonders to the neatness level of your apps.

5:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your wonderful tips and tricks!

Everything you mentioned above really does make me feel like i already own the product... even though I'm one week away!
(btw.. i just realized that you were writing about the first iPhone. But it still works for the iPhone 3G, so thanks!)

Truly enjoyed reading this.

6:48 PM  

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