Q: How do I remove music from my iPod, yet keep it on iTunes? My iPod capacity is full and I want to take some music off of it but keep it in my iTunes library. If I click on the ‘Music’ section underneath my iPod it shows the music on it. I unchecked the ones that I don’t want, but now when I go to the ‘Options’ section it shows that the ‘Sync only checked songs’ button is greyed out, so I cannot click that. From what I’ve gathered online, apparently I’m supposed to uncheck the ‘Manually manage music’ button, HOWEVER, when I do that it gives me a warning that says ‘All existing content on the iPod will be replaced with content from your iTunes library.’ What does this mean? Is it safe to uncheck the box, and it won’t delete my music?
A: The Sync only checked songs option only applies when automatically synchronizing your music with your iPod, which is why it is greyed out when you’re operating in manual mode.
To remove music when managing your iPod content manually, you simply need to open the Music section under your iPod, locate the tracks you want to remove, and delete them manually in the same way as you would remove them from your library.
Since you’re working directly with the content on your iPod, removing tracks from here will remove them directly from the iPod and leave the version in your iTunes library untouched. Similarly, since you’re managing the content on your iPod manually, removing tracks in your iTunes library would likewise leave the copy on your iPod in place unless you also specifically deleted it.
Essentially, when you’re managing the content on an iPod manually, iTunes treats it as an entirely separate library with no real association to your iTunes library. You can drag and drop music and playlists onto the device in iTunes, but this is simply copying them from your library to your device, not creating any kind of link between the two.
If you’re using automatic synchronization instead of manual mode, then the iPod mirrors your iTunes library, subject to the content and playlists you’ve selected and the Sync only checked songs setting. In this case, you could enable that setting and uncheck songs in your main iTunes library in order to remove them from your iPod during the next automatic sync.
For more information be sure to check out our Beginner’s Guide to iTunes.