Q: I have an iPod classic. When it’s hooked up to my Mac through iTunes 9 I am unable to change the album view from list view. The view bar is also greyed out. On iTunes itself the album view bar works fine. Is it a software issue or am I simply pushing the wrong key?
A: Unfortunately you cannot view content on your iPod from within iTunes in any view except List Mode, which is why the view bar is greyed out, along with the corresponding menu options. This applies regardless of whether you are managed the content on your iPod manually or using automatic synchronization.
Basically, iTunes uses an internal artwork cache to quickly render album artwork when using Album List, Grid and Cover Flow views. Without the cached artwork, these views would render much more slowly as iTunes would need to read the embedded artwork from each individual track in order to generate the artwork view. Even though the iPod classic does maintain its own cache of album art, these images are stored in much lower resolution appropriate for the iPod classic’s 320×240 display—much too low of a resolution to look good on most computers. Since trying to display your iPod’s content in an artwork-intensive view would perform slowly and/or produce low-resolution artwork, iTunes simply forces you to remain in list view.
Note that you should still be able to view the content in your main iTunes library in any of the available views regardless of whether your iPod classic is connected or not.