Q: I know iTunes keeps track of the play count of tracks played, but I mostly listen to my music on my iPod not so much on iTunes. Is there any software available that would track the play count of tracks played on my iPod and then transfer these counts back into iTunes when syncing? Thanks!
A: Actually, as long as you’re using automatic synchronization, this really should not be an issue. With automatic sync, iTunes transfers back any ratings, play counts, last played times, skip counts and last skipped times from the iPod back into your main iTunes library during each sync.
In fact, if you’re not using automatic synchronization with your iPod, this may be a very good incentive to do so.
Recent versions of iTunes also seem to provide some ability to transfer this information back when the iPod is set to manual mode, but this generally only seems to occur if the iPod content was originally synced automatically (ie, if you performed a full automatic load of your iPod before switching to manual management). This is likely due to the internal track identifiers still matching up between the iPod and iTunes, and the fact that users often temporary set their iPod to manual mode for various reasons.
If you must use manual mode for some reason, there are some tools available that can reverse-sync your ratings and play counts, although these are generally designed as a more full-featured iPod recovery solution. This process is usually far more cumbersome than simply using automatic sync with your iPod, so that is certainly our recommended solution. You can check out our iPod 201 article, Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer for more information on some of the available tools for doing this manually, however.