Handing down an iPod

Q: I tried searching your forum but cannot find any information on how to give my iPod to my younger sister. She has a different email address and a different laptop. I am planning on buying a new iPod and want to give her my old iPod classic. What happens to the games on the iPod classic that I bought? Do they “belong to the iPod classic?” Will they work for her when she registers the iPod classic under her own email address, or do I move them over to my new iPod touch? I am not worried about the music as she likes different music than I do, but I would like to be able to keep some on the family photos on the iPod classic for her as well.

– Sandi

Handing down an iPod

A: The first thing to keep in mind is that the registration of a new iPod where you fill in your information such as address and phone number has nothing whatsoever to do with your iPod’s “association” to a given user or library. This stage is simply a standard product registration procedure similar to that found on most other products you buy, and is a completely optional step in the process. The user’s e-mail address, therefore, has nothing to do with what information is associated to the iPod or loaded on the iPod. Further, this registration only occurs on a new iPod anyway—if you connect an existing iPod to another computer, the user will not be prompted to re-register the iPod.

However, f you are using automatic synchronization between your iPod and your computer, your iPod is “associated” to your iTunes library by virtue of that automatic synchronization. In this case, the content on your iPod mirrors the content in your own iTunes library.

If you remove something from your iTunes library, it is also removed from your iPod on the next sync. Connecting the iPod to another computer will result in a prompt to erase the iPod and sync it with content from the new iTunes library. This may be fine if you want to hand off a fresh “as-new” iPod to somebody, but isn’t really effective if you want to leave content on it.

It is possible to set an iPod to manually manage your music and video content, in which case content does not sync to the iPod automatically. Instead, you transfer content to the iPod manually by dragging and dropping it from your iTunes library onto your iPod icon in iTunes. In manual mode you essentially manage the music and video content on the iPod as if it were a separate library, rather than an extension of your main iTunes library—you can expand the iPod in iTunes by clicking on the small triangle to the left of the iPod icon, and view and manage the content directly on the iPod itself (via iTunes), rather than making changes in your main iTunes library and syncing them to your iPod. You can also connect the iPod to any computer running iTunes and add/remove content or even listen to tracks directly from the iPod itself via iTunes.

Keep in mind that manual mode only applies to music and video content. Other content such as photos, games, contacts, and calendar info cannot be transferred manually. You can choose to either synchronize this content automatically with a single iTunes library, or not transfer it at all.

If you choose to transfer games or photos onto the iPod from another computer, any games or photos previously loaded onto the iPod will be erased and replaced with the new ones.

Note that any purchased content stored on the iPod, regardless of whether it includes music, videos, or games, is associated with your iTunes Store account, not the iPod itself. If you do not actually restore the iPod or remove this content, it will stay in place regardless of which computer you connect the iPod to, but if you restore the iPod completely (ie, erase everything on it), you would need to have this content in your iTunes library to transfer it back onto your iPod, and you will only be able to load it from an iTunes library that is authorized for the same iTunes Store account that was used to purchase this content. Up to five (5) different computers can be authorized for the same iTunes Store account, and you can transfer purchased content (including games) to an unlimited number of iPods, provided it’s transferred from a computer that is authorized for that content in the first place (ie, one of your five authorized computers).

In your specific case, you can set your iPod to manual mode before giving it to your sister. To do this, simply connect the iPod to your iTunes library, select it in the source list on the left-hand side, and look for the checkbox labelled Manually manage my music and videos on the iPod “Summary” screen:

Handing down an iPod

Check this box and click the “Apply” button. You can then go into the iPod content directly via iTunes by clicking on the small triangle to the left of the iPod in the iTunes source list, and delete any content that you don’t want to leave on your iPod, or that you think your sister wouldn’t care about. Alternatively, she can do the same thing herself once she connects the iPod to her own laptop.


Handing down an iPod

Note that this still presents a problem with regard to photos and games, since this content is always synced automatically to the iPod. Any photos and/or games already on the iPod will remain on the iPod as long as the “Sync Photos” and “Sync Games” options are left OFF in her own iTunes library, however this will preclude her from adding any new photos or games of her own, since enabling any of the sync options will erase everything in that category and replace it with the content from her own computer.