Q: I have a Windows formatted iPod and I recently bought a MacBook. I want to move my music from my PC (running XP). Do I need to reformat my iPod before running software on the MacBook? Is the reformatting is necessary for the software and iTunes to run properly?
A: When moving from a Windows computer to a Mac, it is not necessary to reformat the iPod, as Mac OS X will happily read a Windows-formatted disk. In this case, you should be able to simply connect the iPod to your MacBook and proceed with whatever third-party recovery software that you would use to transfer your music back from your iPod to your computer.
Once you have recovered your content from your iPod and rebuilt your iTunes library on the MacBook, you can then either leave the iPod formatted for Windows, or choose to reformat it for Mac OS X.
Leaving it formatted for Windows will offer the advantage of compatibility with both platforms (so you could use any free space to use it as a portable storage device between both operating systems). However, it should be noted that using a Windows-formatted iPod on Mac OS X is not technically a supported configuration as far as Apple is concerned, and there have been odd problems in the past that have been related to this configuration. Further, a Windows-formatted iPod cannot be updated to newer firmware versions from a Mac.
Since rebuilding your iTunes library on your MacBook will ultimately result in the iPod being erased and reloaded from your new iTunes library (even though the content will be the same), doing a full “Restore” on the device from within iTunes will not take any longer than it would to simply reload the iPod from the MacBook as a Windows-formatted device.