Walt Mossberg

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Removing Songs from an iPhone

Here are a few questions I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability. This week my mailbox contained questions about removing songs from an iPhone, setting the wallpaper on a computer desktop, and automated online backup services for PCs.


I can’t figure out how to remove a song from my iPhone. How do I do it?

Unlike an iPod, the iPhone has no purely manual-mode option, which would allow you to drag songs on and off of it. However, there are alternative methods.

The simplest approach is to connect your iPhone to your Windows PC or Mac, and allow it to synchronize as usual. Then, select your iPhone in the list at the left edge of the iTunes window in order to bring up the iPhone-settings functions in the large window at the right in iTunes. Click on the Summary tab, and check the option called “Only sync checked items.” This will limit the songs and videos the computer places on the iPhone to those for which you have checked the little box that appears next to their names in iTunes. Next, go into your music library, or into any playlists you have selected for syncing with the phone, and uncheck any songs you no longer want on your iPhone. The next time you perform a sync, these songs will be removed from the phone.

Another method is to place all the songs you want on the iPhone into a single specially designed playlist, or several such playlists. Then, go to the Music tab in the iTunes settings screen and click on “Selected Playlists.” Next, check off only your special iPhone-bound playlists. Once this is done, you can control which songs are, or aren’t, synchronized to the iPhone by adding or removing songs from these playlists. If you remove a song from one of these playlists, it will be deleted from the iPhone the next time you perform a sync.

Neither of these methods will delete the songs from your computer or your iTunes library, or prevent them from playing on your computer.

I have tried to download some pictures recently and use them as wallpaper. I am storing them in my My Pictures folder. But, when I choose to make them my wallpaper, they appear multiple times on my desktop. How can I have a picture cover the whole background on my monitor?

Assuming you are using Windows XP, go to the Display control panel and select Desktop, then find the image in the Background list and select it. Then, under Position on the right, select Center or Stretch. Note, however, that if you have downloaded a small image from the Web, and your monitor has a relatively high resolution, the Center option won’t allow the image to fill much of the screen. The Stretch option, while filling the screen, may result in a grainy and/or distorted image.

I was wondering if you could recommend a good service for automated online backup of a PC running Vista. All the services I have found require the user to manually transfer files to the online site. In my ideal world, I could set up my machine to transfer the files during the evening.

There are two automated online backup services I’ve tested and reviewed, Mozy (mozy.com) and Carbonite (carbonite.com).

Both work on Vista, neither requires manual file transfers, and both are good, though I preferred Mozy when I last tried them in December 2006. However, Carbonite has released a new version I haven’t tried yet, and Mozy has also been updated since then. I don’t think you’d go wrong with either. You can read my review at ptech.allthingsd.com/20061214.

Mozy offers two gigabytes of backups free, and charges $4.95 a month for unlimited backup, though you can save by paying one year or two years in advance. Carbonite offers a 15-day free trial, after which you pay $50 a year for unlimited backup, though you can save if you pay upfront for two years.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox and my other columns online free at the All Things Digital Web site, http://walt.allthingsd.com.

Write to Walter S. Mossberg at mossberg@wsj.com


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