Playing iPod through TV USB port


Q: I am trying to play my iPod through our TV using cables purchased from Apple. When we try to play music or movies, we get a list of “F” folders on the TV and the iPod itself says “Do not disconnect.” How can I view the actual movies or music on the TV? We didn’t seem to have this trouble on an older TV that we used. The folders do not show up as “F” folders on the computer or the iPod, only when it is hooked up to the TV. The help desk for the TV was less than helpful and didn’t have an answer. We have a Samsung 540 40” LCD TV. Is this a problem with the TV? Is there a different TV brand that is more compatible with iPods?

– Mike

A: The problem in this case appears to be that your TV model is either not specifically iPod compatible or perhaps is not set to an iPod-compatible mode.

When iTunes stores files on your iPod, it copies them to a hidden file and folder structure and then writes the information about the files to a database that the iPod reads to display your music in a more organized fashion. This allows you to quickly browse through your music in a multitude of different ways, such as by artist, album, genre, etc, rather than being limited by navigating to it through a linear file and folder structure. Any device that is specifically made to work with an iPod should know how to read this iPod database to properly display an index of your music.

Unfortunately, however, many devices that provide a USB port for music players are simply designed to work with a file system based device such as a USB flash drive or similar device that you would have copied the music files to manually using a tool such as Windows Explorer. What is happening here is that when you connect your iPod to your TV, it is simply displaying the iPod file system as if it were a hard drive, rather than seeing the index of music that is actually on your iPod.

You should investigate further to see if your particular model of TV has an iPod compatible setting or if there might be a firmware update available that provides this capability. If not, then you may find using your iPod directly with your TV to be somewhat impractical, since the folder structure on the iPod is somewhat random and not representative of any useful organization.

In this case, you could either purchase a different TV that is specifically iPod-compatible, connect your iPod to your TV through the audio input ports rather than through the USB port and control it manually, or look into an iPod Dock that provides video output and on-TV menus. You can find reviews of some of the available docks with on-TV menu support in our reviews section.

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Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.