Q: In previous versions of iTunes, I remember being able to play songs on an iPod through the computer when it was plugged in. However, in the newer versions, that feature has either been locked or taken off entirely. If it is merely locked, is there any way around it?
A: Actually, this feature does indeed still exist in iTunes, and hasn’t actually gone away from previous versions. However, to play content directly from your iPod, you’ll need to switch it, at least temporarily, into “Manual” mode.
To do this, simply select the iPod itself in the source pane in iTunes (rather than the Music sub-folder), and you should see a Summary screen. Check the option labelled “Manually manage music and videos” and click the “Apply” button in the bottom-right corner. You will then be able to go into the “Music” section and the songs will no longer be greyed out. Simply double-click on any track to play it. Switching to manual mode can be done on any computer that you connect your iPod to, and once enabled, the settings travels with the iPod itself, so it will remain in manual mode on any computer you connect it to unless you UNcheck the manual mode option.
You can re-enable automatic mode at any time after connecting back to your home computer by simply returning to the Summary screen and DE-selecting the “Manually Manage…” option. iTunes will run a quick sync and recognize that your iPod still contains mostly the same content, rather than erasing and reloading the iPod. Further, the last played time and play counts of any tracks you listened to on your iPod will actually be transferred back to your iTunes library when you return to automatic synchronization mode.