Q: I have an iPod nano, iPod classic and an iPhone and and when I have my iPhone connected I don’t seem to be able to add a playlist in the iPhone (as opposed to adding a playlist to the iTunes library). Is it because I have the settings to sync everything?
A: That’s essentially correct. When using automatic sync with an iPhone or iPod it mirrors the content in your iTunes library, so you cannot actually copy any content onto the device or create any playlists that are not already in your library. Selecting the option to Manually manage music and videos on the iPhone’s Summary screen in iTunes will set the iPhone into manual mode and you can then create playlists on it through iTunes and drag-and-drop content to it manually. Even in manual mode, other content such as applications, ringtones, photos and podcasts will still sync to your iPhone automatically if you have these items selected.
Note also that the iPhone is a special case when it comes to manual mode as compared to iPod devices. Setting an iPod to manual mode will allow you to add content and manage the content manually from any other computer running iTunes, and not just your “home” library. The iPhone, by comparison, remains associated with only a single computer, and even in manual mode you will not be able to manage or load content onto it from secondary computers.