Those that have been listening to the buzz after Apple’s music keynote on 1 September 2010 might have picked up on a feature known as Ping. Tucked away in the announcement of the release of the iTunes 10 desktop software was actually quite a significant point that is that Apple has chosen to launch its own social network.

As it happens it’s all about music and it’ll allow you to follow artists, friends and total strangers as well and read about their thoughts on music they’ve purchased in the iTunes Store. You can write reviews, comments on what other people have just bought and hit like buttons here and there to mark your approval. So, if you’re raring to get going and this sounds like just what you’ve been waiting for, then here is how to sep up iTunes Ping in 8 idiot proof steps.

First things first. You need to have iTunes 10 installed. If you already have a version of iTunes on your computer, head to Step 2 now. If you don’t have iTunes at all, then head over here to the iTunes download page. Select your OS. (If you don’t happen to know which version of Windows 7 you’re running, right click on Computer>Properties and it will tell you 32-bit OS or 64-bit OS.) Uncheck the boxes if you don’t want to be Apple spammed, then hit "download now" and wait a minute or 2 while the 71MB-odd payload arrives.

Double click on the .exe file icon and follow the onscreen installation instructions. Right, we should all now own a copy of iTunes 10.

Step 2

If you do own a version of iTunes already, then just open up the software on your desktop and go to the Help menu and click on Check for Updates. It will then discover that you have an old and archaic version of the software and that there is a spanking new one to download. Follow the instructions and it will update for you.

At this point, we should all be fully updated to iTunes 10, so load up your shiny new copy of the software and head straight to the menus at the left hand edge of the screen. Click where it says Ping under the Store category and you’ll now be presented with an oversized Ping logo and a single option button which is to turn on Ping. Do so.

Ping is, of course, a connected service and is part of the iTunes Store. So, the next prompt is to get you to sign in with your Store account. If you don’t already have one and you’re rather new to all this, you will be given the opportunity to register at this point. Once over that mini hurdle, you’ll have a terms and conditions form waved in front of you. You could read it through and find that clause that you’re not happy with, but the best way to save yourself some time and blood pressure is to admit that there’s nothing you can do about it and just tick the box at the bottom. Hit continue.

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Next up is the chance to fill in your profile. Nothing too tricky here, just your name, gender, a profile pic, your location, a free form biog and your music genre choices which are limited to just three. Choose wisely, and do remember that all of the information you fill in on this page will be available to the public. No mention of your boss etc. Hit continue at the bottom.

This section entitled “Music I Like” should really be called “Privacy Settings”. There’s not a whole lot of information to worry about getting loose out on the intertubes but, if you don’t want people to know that you’re a secret Britney fan, then this is where to pay close attention.

The default and top option on the list means that all those who follow you will be able to see if you like, review, rate or purchase anything from the iTunes Store. You can switch to manual control of that with the next one down, but that will probably get a little dull after the 6th time of doing it. Finally, at the bottom, you can choose to share none of this whatsoever but, then, that rather defeats the purpose of being on a music based social network now, doesn’t it.

This is the section that is actually called “Privacy Settings” and rather than being about what you share, its point of concern is around who you share with. The default setting is to allow anyone to follow you without permission and, by that, anyone can have access to information on your profile, your purchases and your review and likes and such. So long as you’re not planning on putting a naked photo on your page or writing a confession about how you’ve be selling office stationary on eBay, then you should be okay as set.

However, if all that access to your opinions gives you the fear, then you can always set your account such that people need your approval for them to follow you or even shut off the possibility altogether. Once again though, if you go for the last option, you might want to consider why you're bothering with a social network in the first place.

Once you’ve hit Done on the Privacy Setting page, you’re in, all set and ready to get Pinging. iTunes will take you to the front page of the Ping area on the iTunes Store, where it’ll suggest a bunch of artists to follow as well as some normal folk as well. Once you’re done getting linked up, there’s also a box at the top where you can send emails to your friends and encourage them to join you in this brave new world. Have fun.

What are your thoughts on Ping? Is it something you want to get into and which artists, dead or alive, would you most like to follow?