Managing video content manually

Q: I’ve just treated myself to a 160 GB iPod classic. It has more storage space than my 120 GB hard drive but I thought you can never have too much space. My plan was to automatically sync with my music library and downloaded podcasts which I have more than enough room for. However, I’d like to add video manually so I can remove the original files from iTunes to save space on my hard drive. Is this possible?

– Dan

A: Unfortunately, when it comes to manual management of an iPod’s content, the options are to either manually manage all music and video content, or automatically synchronize everything.

The only exceptions to manual management are Podcasts, Photos, Contacts/Calendars and Games, which are always synced automatically, regardless of the “manual” setting.

Therefore, there is no way to manually manage video content without manually managing your music content as well. That having been said, however, if the goal is to simply save space on your local hard drive in regards to video content, there is a workaround which may be acceptable.

iTunes will never remove anything from your iPod as long as it remains listed in your iTunes library, regardless of whether the original file exists or not. In this way, music libraries on external hard drives can be supported without risking your iPod being wiped out if the external hard drive is not connected.

Based on this, the simplest solution to save space on your local computer is to simply delete the underlying file once you’ve transferred it to your iPod, leaving the entry in the iTunes library in place. You will get a warning that iTunes cannot locate the video file whenever you access it in your iTunes library, but this can safely be ignored, and the content will never actually be removed from the iPod unless you DEselect it from synchronization or remove the entry from your iTunes library.

You can quickly locate the underlying file for any given iTunes library item by right-clicking on the item in question, and choosing “Show in Finder” (Mac) or “Show in Windows Explorer” (Windows). This will open a Finder/Explorer window with the relevant file highlighted. You could then just delete the file directly from that location to save disk space.