Changing an iPod’s file system format

Q: I just bought a MacBook, and I would like to make my Windows-formatted iPod Mac-formatted. How would I do this?

– John

A: Congratulations, and welcome to the Mac. First, you should know that your iPod will continue to function on the Mac in its current Windows format (and many users choose to operate this way, as it enables transferring files between platforms).

However, you’re doing the right thing: iLounge recommends that Mac users operate their iPods in the Mac-native HFS+ format; we’ve simply found it more reliable.

If you choose to use a Mac file system for your iPod, it’s so easy to set up that you probably won’t realize you’re doing it. Simply download the latest Mac version of Apple’s iPod Software Updater, and upon “Restoring” your iPod to factory condition, your iPod will be in Mac format.

This also applies to Windows users: to properly format your iPod as FAT32 (Windows iPods’ preferred file system), simply use the PC version of the iPod Software Updater to format your iPod.

As a side note, there’s unfortunately no proper way to format an iPod for PC using a Mac, or to format an iPod for Mac using a PC. Even Apple support representatives at an Apple Store’s Genius Bar often use a PC kept in the back room to restore PC-based iPods.