Q: Do I need to retain all iTunes items on my PC once I have transferred them to my iPod? When I downloaded my music to my iPod and then went back to do another download from iTunes the original items on the iPod were deleted? What am I doing wrong?
A: Unless you have chosen to manage the content on your iPod manually, iTunes will basically treat your iPod as an extension of your iTunes library, mirroring either your entire library or whatever specific content you have selected for synchronization to your iPod. This means that any changes you make to your tracks and playlists in iTunes are automatically applied to your iPod the next time you connect it to your computer—any tracks you’ve added to iTunes are added to your iPod and any tracks you’ve deleted from your iTunes library will be removed from your iPod. Changes to playlists and edits to track information (e.g. an artist name or song title) will also be automatically synchronized to your iPod in the same manner.
This automatic synchronization feature is designed to make management of your iTunes and iPod library as simple as possible, since the content between the two will always be in sync. If you’re maintaining an iTunes library on your computer, this is generally far easier to deal with than managing two separate sets of the same content—one on your iPod and one on your computer.
Of course, this feature is somewhat less useful if you don’t want to keep an iTunes library on your computer. In this case, you would actually want your iPod to act as its own independent music library and ignore what is in your iTunes library. You can accomplish this by enabling the Manually manage music and videos option found on the Summary screen for your iPod in iTunes.
When enabling this option for a traditional iPod model, you will be presented with a dialog box asking you to confirm that you want to manually manage the content on your iPod and advising you that you will need to ensure that you eject the iPod manually before disconnecting it from your computer.
iTunes treats your iPod in the same manner as any other external hard disk, and therefore needs to safely eject it before you disconnect it from your computer. When using automatic synchronization, iTunes automatically ejects your iPod as soon as it’s done updating content, however in manual mode there is no way for iTunes to determine when you’re actually finished accessing the iPod music library.
Once in manual mode, any music you have added to your iTunes library will no longer be automatically transferred to your iPod, but neither will any updates, deletions or playlist changes. Instead, you will need to transfer the music onto your iPod manually by dragging-and-dropping it from the track listing in iTunes onto your iPod icon on the left side of your iTunes window. The same procedure can be used to transfer playlists to your iPod—simply drag-and-drop the individual playlist from the Playlists section up onto the iPod in the Devices section.
In essence, once manual management is enabled your iPod becomes its own independent library. You still manage your iPod content via iTunes, however you do so directly on the iPod rather than making changes in your iTunes library and synchronizing them over automatically. You can access and manage the content directly on your iPod from within iTunes by clicking on the small triangle to the left of your iPod in the Devices listing which will expand the list to show you the content on your iPod; from here you can select content categories or playlists, update track information, edit playlists and remove tracks in the same way as you would in your iTunes library.
To eject your iPod when you are done updating or managing the content on it, simply click the eject symbol that appears to the right of your iPod’s name. The iPod screen should indicate once it’s safe to disconnect it from your computer.
For more information, be sure to check out our Beginner’s Guide to iTunes.
Note that although you don’t need to keep your music stored in your iTunes library to put it on your iPod, it is highly recommended that you back it up at least somewhere, such as on an external hard drive or via recordable CD or DVD. The iPod is a portable device that can be damaged or lost much more easily than a desktop computer; we’ve heard many sad stories over the years from users who have also lost their entire music collections in the process because they were stored only on the iPod. Further, while recovering your music from your iPod is certainly possible, it’s generally a more cumbersome process than simply copying it back over from an external hard drive or backup CD/DVD.