Pre-loading a gift iPod on another computer

Q: I just bought my dad an 80GB iPod classic as a gift and would like to load some songs onto it, from my computer, before I give it to him. Is this possible? Or will the iPod then only recognize my computer (G5) and not my Dad’s PC.

– Peter

A: Generally, the problem with pre-loading an iPod on another computer is that the iPod will become “associated” to that iTunes library, which means that when the user connects their iPod to their home computer, they will be prompted to erase the iPod and sync it with their own iTunes library:

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This will result in any pre-loaded content being lost in the process unless it has already been imported into the second iTunes library.

If you are pre-loading the iPod exclusively with content that has been purchased from the iTunes Store, the user will have the option to transfer that purchased music back to their own iTunes library, provided that they have authorized their computer for the same iTunes Store account (using the Store, Authorize Computer option in iTunes):

 

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In this case, selecting “Transfer Purchases” will transfer back any iTunes Store purchased content, and you could then select “Erase and Sync” to erase the iPod and re-sync it to the new library, which would now have that content available in it (so it would be re-copied back up to the iPod).

As another alternative, you could connect the iPod to your computer and set it to “Manually manage my music and videos” and then load the content onto it manually rather than synchronizing it with your own iTunes library. In this case, the iPod would not really be associated with any iTunes library, and could be used and loaded from any computer. Note, however, that if your dad wanted to begin automatically syncing the iPod with his own iTunes library, any content will be erased when turning the manual option off.

Note that if you pre-load the iPod in manual mode, there are third-party tools available that could be used to access the iPod and copy the information from it into the second iTunes library so that it could be resynced with that library. See our iPod 201 article on Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer for more information.

Another important consideration: From your question it appears you’re using a Mac (G5) and your dad is using a PC. In this case you’re going to have a problem with disk formats. A PC cannot read a Mac-formatted iPod at all. In this case, you’ll need to make sure you set the iPod up on a PC first so that it’s Windows-formatted before connecting it to your Mac. A Mac can access and sync information to a Windows-formatted iPod, so you could still load it from your G5, but you need to make sure it is formatted for Windows before doing this.

 

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