Q: I’m new to the world of iPods. I want to remove some music files from my hard drive (to store on a removable hard drive so I can save space), but I don’t want them to delete from the iPod when I sync. I’d like to be able to sync the files from the computer to the iPod automatically, like I’m doing now, without manually manipulating files. Is this possible?
A: If you want to sync automatically, iTunes makes a mirror copy of its library on your iPod, so you cannot keep files on the iPod and sync that way. Manual syncing allows you to do this, since you choose which files to copy. When you connect the iPod, iTunes does not remove any files from the iPod, and if you want to remove files from the iPod, you must do so manually.
There is a workaround, though it is not very elegant. If you remove the files from your hard disk, but do not delete them from your iTunes library, they’ll show with an ! next to their names, meaning that iTunes cannot find them. They will not, however, be deleted from your iPod when you sync automatically. If you return them to your hard disk, then the ! will go away, as long as you put them in the same location as they were originally.
This isn’t the best way to work with your iPod, though. Have you thought about simply putting your iTunes library on the external drive, if it has enough space?