Q: Is there a way to get files such as movies onto my iPod touch without having to go through iTunes? Otherwise, iTunes forces me to sync, which will kill my music library (and possibly other things).
A: iTunes is the preferred and only officially supported app for adding media content to an iPod touch, although several third-party tools also exist such as SharePod for Windows users and Senuti for Mac users.
Keep in mind, however, that even if you add individual content to your iPod touch through a third-party utility, this content will be removed when you next automatically sync with iTunes unless you’ve configured your device for manual management of its media content.
In fact you may find it simpler to just configure iTunes to manually sync content with your iPod and then add content via iTunes rather than relying on a third-party tool. In this mode, none of your music, movie or TV show content will sync automatically from iTunes—instead you add content to your device manually by dragging it from your iTunes library onto the iPod icon in your devices listing at the left-hand side of the iTunes window.
To enable manual mode, simply connect your iPod to your computer, select it from the Devices listing, and then look for the option labelled “Manually manage my music and videos” in the main “Summary” panel.
Once you’ve configured your iPod touch for manual management, it remembers this setting on every computer you connect it to, making it easy to add and manage content from other computers running iTunes as well. Note that in manual mode your iPod touch will effectively be treated as its own media library, separate from your iTunes library. This means that any new files added to your iTunes library will need to be manually transferred to your iPod and you’ll also need to manage playlists directly on the device via iTunes, or copy them from your iTunes library to your iPod using the same drag-and-drop method. Once in manual mode, you can access the content on your iPod directly through iTunes simply by clicking on the small triangle to the left of your iPod in the iTunes Devices listing, which will expand a view of the categories of content and playlists contained on the device.
You can select media categories and playlists from here and manage their content in much the same way as you would in the main iTunes library. For more information check out our Beginner’s Guide to iTunes.