Q: I’ve just purchased my first iPod and am trying to put music onto it. I have music stored on both an old laptop and an old desktop. It looks to me like all the music on my iPod has to be present on one of my computer hard drives in order to sync it through iTunes. Is this right? Does this mean that in order to fully use a 30 GB iPod, I also have to have 30 GB of free hard drive space devoted to storing music on my computer? That doesn’t seem right.
A: Although this is the default synchronization mode for iTunes and the iPod, it is not necessarily the only available option. If you do have the disk space to maintain an iTunes library on your computer, this is often the simplest solution, but iTunes also offers a “manual” management mode, whereby you can drag-and-drop tracks from your iTunes library to your iPod, and then delete them from your computer.
You can enable this mode during initial setup of your iPod simply by UNchecking Automatically sync songs to my iPod during initial setup:
Or, if you’ve already been through the setup wizard, simply connect your iPod, select it in the iTunes source list on the left, and then check the option “Manually manage my music and videos” from the “Summary” tab:
In either case, nothing will be transferred to the iPod automatically. Instead, you can drag-and-drop music or whole playlists from within your iTunes library onto your iPod in the source pane to manually transfer it. Once these tracks are transferred to your iPod, you can safely delete them from your iTunes library.
Further, you can manage music directly on the iPod itself by simply clicking on the small triangle that appears immediately to the left of the iPod in the source list. This will expand a virtual folder structure below the iPod that will allow you to view the various categories of content (ie, Music, Movies, etc), as well as your playlists. You can also create a playlist on the iPod in this mode by choosing File, New Playlist with the iPod selected.
Essentially, from here you would manage the content on your iPod in much the same way as your computer-based iTunes library.
Note that you should always maintain a backup of your iTunes music somewhere other than your iPod, whether it be on an external hard drive or CD/DVD media. The iPod itself can be prone to loss, damage or simply system failure, and it would not be pleasant to lose all of your music in this process. Note as well that if you do choose to use an external hard drive, you can store the music on your external hard drive within iTunes, and still take advantage of automatic synchronization even when the external hard drive is not connected. Even with automatic synchronization, iTunes will never remove a track from the iPod during unless the entry for that track is removed from the iTunes library, regardless of whether the underlying file exists or not. This allows you to have the external hard drive disconnected yet still be able to synchronize your iPod without the content being removed.