Q: In iTunes on my PC, songs appear to be in the correct order for a given album. But on my iPod classic many songs are listed and play in alphabetical order. How do I fix this and how do I prevent it from happening in the future?

Track sorting on iPod classic

– Harvey

A: The likely problem here is that your tracks in iTunes do not contain a track number, or that this information is not being synced properly to your iPod.

In iTunes itself, you have the option to sort your tracks on any displayed column, so you can customize the sort order as you prefer. However, the sort order you select in iTunes does not transfer to your iPod except for within actual playlists. Rather, when browsing through your music collection on your iPod by artist or album, tracks are sorted by track number within each album, or alphabetically if not track number information is found.

You can check your tracks for track number information in iTunes by displaying the Track Number column. To do this, either right-click on the column headings and choose “Track Number” from the context menu, or choose View, View Options from the iTunes menu.

Track sorting on iPod classic

Once the Track Number column is displayed, select the affected album in iTunes and confirm that the track numbers are correctly displayed. These are the numbers that your iPod will use to sort your tracks on the iPod itself.


Track sorting on iPod classic

If the track numbers are missing, you can add them simply by selecting each track and choosing File, Get Info from the iTunes menu to display the track’s properties. You can fill in the track number for each track, and use the Previous and Next buttons found at the bottom of this dialog box to quickly navigate between tracks and fill in the info for each.


Track sorting on iPod classic

If the track numbers are correct in iTunes, then the second possibility is that they have not been transferred to your iPod properly. If you are manually managing your iPod via drag-and-drop, you will need to ensure that you have specifically re-copied these tracks to your iPod, as the track information will not sync automatically when changed or updated in your iTunes library.

You can check to see if the tracks on the iPod itself contain the correct track information simply by expanding the iPod in your iTunes Devices list and browsing through it from there.


Track sorting on iPod classic

If you find the track information is not present or incorrect on the iPod itself, you can try deleting and re-transferring the tracks from your iTunes library. If this is a widespread problem, simply restoring your iPod and resyncing all of your content from your iTunes library is probably the simplest solution. However, if this only affects a few tracks then you can delete the specific tracks from your iPod and re-transfer them. To do this, you can either switch your iPod to manual management and delete them manually, or you can enable the “Sync only checked songs and videos” option in iTunes and uncheck the affected tracks in your iTunes library. After the tracks have been removed, you can either transfer them back manually by drag-and-drop, switch back into automatic sync mode if that’s what you were using before, or simply recheck the tracks and sync again if you used the “Sync unchecked” option to remove them.





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.