Walt Mossberg

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Displaying Song Lyrics on an iPod

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.


I listen to opera and other music in languages other than English. Much of this music comes with lyrics and English translations. I like listening on my MP3 player, but I don’t like having to carry around the CD notes to read while I listen. Is there a portable player that would allow me to read the lyrics while I listen?

Yes. The Apple iPods are capable of displaying lyrics while you listen. This capability has been on the standard iPods and on iPod Nanos for a while, and has just been added to the new iPod Touch and to the iPhone. It requires the lyrics to be entered into the song file, either manually or by cutting and pasting.

You enter lyrics using Apple’s companion iTunes software, on either a Windows or a Macintosh computer. To do so, you select the song, then, from the File menu, click on “Get Info.” You then select the tab called “Lyrics,” which brings up an empty window. You can type in the lyrics or first copy them from a Web site (or other source) and then paste them into this window. You then click OK, and, when you synchronize the song with your iPod, the lyrics come with it.

On the standard iPod itself, to view the lyrics while listening, you press the large center button multiple times until the lyrics appear. On the iPod Touch and iPhone, you tap on the image of the album cover while a song is playing. If the song file contains lyrics, they appear.

Does Kodak’s photo software allow one to add titles to the photo — for instance, names of people in group shots?

Yes, as with most photo software, you can add captions or titles to pictures organized inside the Kodak EasyShare software that runs on your computer. You can also add captions to pictures you upload to Kodak’s online photo organizer, which is called Kodak Gallery.

I want to give our five-year-old Dell with Windows XP to a charitable organization. How do I assure myself that all my personal files are safely removed?

One option is to reformat the hard disk, which would leave the computer unusable unless you or the charity bought and installed a copy of Windows, or obtained and installed a free copy of the Linux operating system.

The other option is to leave the operating system and programs intact but “wipe,” or permanently delete, all the personal files that concern you, using a “file wiper” program that overwrites the contents of the file with nonsense data. There are a variety of such programs, including some that are free. To find these, go to download.com and search for “file wipe” or “file wiper.” If you’re willing to spend $30, you might want to use a program I have tested and can recommend called Window Washer, available at webroot.com. It has a “bleaching” function that wipes files, and also has the ability to erase any tracks left by your Web browser.

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


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