Managing On-The-Go playlists

Q:  I had an iPod nano and recently upgraded to the iPod classic. I transfer music manually from my library using both iPods interchangeably. I recently noticed that the “clear playlist/songs” option when I click On-The-Go playlist (on my nano) is no longer there, so I can’t clear the songs using my iPod. I have to use my computer to do so. The option was there on my nano before I started using my classic. I can’t remember if it was on my classic to begin with. How do I fix this? Do I need to re-install the software? Everything is up to date.

– Marby

A: There is no setting in iTunes that affects the On-the-Go playlist feature on the iPod itself, nor should introducing an iPod classic to your iTunes library have any affect on this. It’s possible that what you’re seeing is not the actual On-The-Go playlist, but rather a static playlist that was automatically created from the On-The-Go playlist by iTunes.

If you have added even a single track to the On-The-Go playlist on your iPod and are automatically synchronizing with iTunes, the content of your On-The-Go playlist gets transferred to a new, static playlist the next time you sync with your computer. These playlists are named “On-The-Go” followed by a sequential number to keep them in order (ie, “On-The-Go 1”). During this process, the content of the dynamic On-The-Go playlist on your iPod is also cleared.

These static playlists will synchronize back to your iPod automatically as well, and may be confused for the dynamic On-The-Go playlist queue. However, as with any other standard playlist in iTunes, you cannot modify these on the device itself. The actual On-The-Go dynamic playlist queue is still there, but you may have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of your playlists to actually see it, ignoring any other playlists named “On-The-Go” in the process.

Since the On-The-Go play queue is cleared each time you sync with iTunes, you’ll also be starting from scratch. However, you can easily add the content of the last-synced “On-The-Go” playlist back to your On-The-Go play queue in the same way as you would for any other playlist – just highlight the playlist and hold down the center select button.

Within iTunes itself, you can of course rename, delete, or modify the numbered On-The-Go playlists which are synced back to iTunes, in the same way you would any other playlist. You may find it less confusing to either remove these automatically-created On-The-Go playlists if you’re no longer using them, or just give them another name.

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