Q: iTunes shows songs in my library, but when it goes through the sync motion the songs don’t appear on my iPod nano. Any ideas why?
A: There are some settings in iTunes that control which songs from your iTunes library are synchronized to your iPod automatically, and depending on how these iPod sync settings are configured will determine whether new songs are added to your iPod automatically or not.
To configure these settings, you must connect your iPod to your computer and then select it from the iTunes “Devices” section at the left-hand side of the screen. This will display the Summary screen for your iPod.
From this screen, ensure that the setting to “Manually manage music and videos” is not selected. When this option is selected, NO music is transferred to your iPod automatically—instead you must transfer tracks to your iPod manually by dragging them from your iTunes library and dropping them onto the iPod icon in the Devices list. If you want to return to synchronizing songs automatically, you will need to uncheck this box and click the “Apply” button in the bottom-right corner of the iTunes window.
If the “Manually manage…” box is not checked, then it is possible that you are instead only synchronizing selected playlists to your iPod. In this case, only tracks that are in those playlists will be transferred to your iPod during an automatic sync. You can check on this by choosing the “Music” tab at the top of the iPod summary screen.
If “Selected Playlists” is chosen on this screen, the only songs that are contained in playlists with a checkbox beside them will be transferred onto your iPod. In this case you must either choose “All songs and playlists” to have iTunes sync your entire library, or ensure that those songs are contained within one of the selected playlists.
Frequently, the “Selected Playlists” setting is used for situations where your music library is larger than your iPod’s capacity. In fact, iTunes itself will offer to create a playlist of music to fit on your iPod when it detects that you have more music in your iTunes library than will fit onto your iPod. If this is the case, then you will not be able to choose “All songs and playlists” as this would try to sync more content than you would be able to fit on your iPod.
Note that you can use Smart Playlists to automatically select content from your library based on search criteria and choose these for synchronization to your iPod as well, however. In fact, iTunes automatically provides a “Recently Added” Smart Playlist which selects tracks added to your iTunes library in the past two weeks by default. If you select this playlist for synchronization to your iPod, then any new tracks you import into your iTunes library will automatically be added to your iPod during the next sync and will remain there for two weeks (the default scope of the “Recently Added” Smart Playlist), after which they will be removed unless you’ve placed them in another playlist which is synced to your iPod.
You can also adjust the “Recently Added” Smart Playlist or create alternative Smart Playlists to automatically include newly-imported tracks for synchronization to your iPod, and even limit them to a certain size to ensure they fit onto your iPod. Use File, New Smart Playlist to create a new Smart Playlist, or select an existing Smart Playlist and choose File, Get Info to edit its settings. For example, the following is a modified version of the “Recently Added” Smart Playlist which excludes videos and podcasts and limits the total size to 1GB of content: