How to Correctly Import Audiobook CDs into iTunes

*UPDATE; Nov. 22nd, '13*: iTunes 11.x makes some major changes to the program's interface. Rather than write a lengthy update to this post (why reinvent the wheel, right?), I recommend you head over to the following page to get the low-down on the new interface:


That page both describes the interface changes, plus points to his original article, much like mine below. Also, for any of you who aren't adverse to paying for a piece of software that makes the process a lot easier, check out Audiobook Builder at the following link (it's only $5 for a single-user license):


It appears to do a great job of converting audiobook CDs into corresponding tracks in iTunes, and gets good reviews from satisfied users.

Meanwhile, for any of you still using iTunes 10 or earlier, I'll leave my original post below...

At a Black Canyon Mac User Group meeting in Montrose about 10 days ago, I was asked if there were any tricks to importing audiobook CDs. In fact, there are quite a few tricks to optimally import audiobooks, so I'll go into the process in detail in this post. Don't worry, though it appears to be a pretty fussy process, believe me, it's not that bad when you get into it, and it pays big dividends:

• Your audiobooks will show up as audiobooks in iTunes, and not as music tracks;
• You'll be able to return to a book that you've only partly finished, and it will remember where you left off!
• Snippets of your audiobooks will no longer pop up when you're shuffling your music...

I'll start with an Alexander McCall Smith audiobook called the "Unbearable Lightness of Scones". The book is on a total of 12 CDs. To begin, you insert the first CD and wait for the nice people at Gracenote to automatically populate the data on the book (Artist, Title, Trackname, etc). Here's how it looks:

The first thing you want to do, to save space in importing 12 CDs worth of data, is to change the import settings. Click on the button labeled "Import Settings..." in the lower right corner of the screen. Where it initially says "iTunes Plus", click and change that setting to "Spoken Podcast". When done, it should look like this:

Next, you'll want to make sure the tracks are sorted by the track number (by clicking on the column heading above the track numbers), and then select all the tracks in the CD. Then, under the Advanced menu, choose "Join CD Tracks":

When you're done with that process, the listing should look like this:

Then, simply click the "Import CD" button in the bottom right corner of the screen. When done, eject that CD, and follow the same procedure to import the rest of the CDs in your audiobook. For me, importing all 12 CDs took about an hour...

Once all the CDs have been imported, bring up the listing of imported "tracks", one per CD, sorted by track. If you need to, use the Get Info command to rename your tracks for consistency (and possibly to get them in the right order. [In some cases it might just be easier to use the View Options command in the View menu to show the Date Added column. Then, just view your tracks by reverse Date Added.] However you do it, here's how it should look:

Now, lastly, you want to select all the 'tracks' and then choose "Get Info" from the File menu. Switch to the Option tab, and make sure your checkboxes look like this:

In order, the above settings...

1) ensure the audiobook files show up under Books, instead of Music;
2) enable the ability to remember to your place in a book that you haven't finished; and
3) make sure that your audiobook files won't be played when you're shuffling your music library.

I hope this post makes the persnickety process of properly importing audiobooks less confusing!!