MacNN Forums (
-   iPhone, iPad & iPod (
-   -   Have a question? Look here first: The Official iPod FAQ (

icruise Nov 18, 2005 12:23 AM
Have a question? Look here first: The Official iPod FAQ
This FAQ is starting to get a little out of date, and I'm not sure that I have the time or motivation to keep it updated. The information here is still good, for the most part, but it doesn't cover things like the iPhone or Apple TV at all, and the info about things like video codecs isn't up to date. For the moment, I'm going to suggest that you take a look at the tutorials, which cover a variety of things from how to convert video for use on your iPod/iPhone/Apple TV to general usage issues.

Since we often get people asking similar questions over and over, I thought it would be a good idea to have an FAQ for the iPod forum. I'm going to be adding things as they occur to me, but other people can feel free to add FAQs (and answers!) as well. Since I want to keep this thread as easy to read as possible, I think it would be best if we could keep discussion to a minimum. Try and keep this thread short and to the point. Above all, please don't ask new questions here -- do that in other threads.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can you tell me about the new video iPods released in September 2006?
What are the rules of the FairPlay DRM scheme used in the iTunes Store?
How do I copy music from my iPod to my computer?
Can I keep my iTunes music or videos on an external hard disk?
How do I convert video files for viewing on my 5th generation iPod?
How do I convert video from DVDs for viewing on my 5th generation iPod?
How do make the TV shows I've converted myself show up under my iPod's "TV Shows" menu item?
How do I make a file remember my place when I stop listening to it?
How do I use my iPod with more than one computer?
Will my new video iPod fit in my old iPod's dock? What about the nano?
How do I reset the display language for my iPod if I can't read the language I accidentally selected?
Can the new iPods (iPod nano and iPod with video) be used with a firewire connection?
I don't have USB 2 on my computer. Can I still use the new iPods?
Can I use more than one iPod on my computer?
icruise Nov 18, 2005 12:38 AM
How do I convert video files for viewing on my 5th generation iPod?
If you already have some video files that you want to play on your iPod, chances are that they will need to be converted to a different format. You don't necessarily need to know the specifics of this if you just want to use one of the many convertor programs available. I haven't used them all and in any case they each have their advantages and disadvantages, so I'll just give you some links to the most popular ones. You might also be interested to know that many video conversion programs for the PSP will also produce iPod-compatible video.


Since this forum is primarily for Mac people, I suggest that people looking for information on converting video on Windows try the TV/Video Forum over at, which is a more Windows-centric community. There are a number of programs available for Windows.

Here are the details of the iPod's video formats for those who care:

The iPod can play two video formats: h.264 and MPEG-4. For h.264 it must be 320 x 240 resolution with a bitrate of 768kbps or less. For MPEG-4, it must have less than 230,400 total pixels and a bitrate of less than 2500kbps. (Find the total number of pixels by multiplying your aspect ratio together. An aspect ratio of 720 x 304 has 218,880 pixels, so it will play back on the iPod.) So unless your video happens to already be in one of those formats, it will need to be converted before it can be played on the iPod. (NOTE: The newest iPod software has enabled another type of h.264 video that is higher-resolution. See the section on the new iPods for some more info.)

h.264 is the "better" format in general, because it creates files that are smaller in size with great quality. The disadvantage is that it takes longer to encode h2.64 and the iPod is limited to a resolution of 320 x 240 for h.264, so if you're viewing the files on your computer or a TV, MPEG-4 at a higher resolution might be the better choice.

How do I convert video from DVDs for viewing on my 5th generation iPod?
If you want to know all the details, I suggest you visit this thread, but to summarize, your best bet on the Mac is a program called Handbrake. See this page for a detailed tutorial on how to use Handbrake to convert video for your iPod. Note that this tutorial has you use MPEG-4, but the latest version of Handbrake now produces iPod-compatible h.264 format video as long as you select the "baseline profile."

If you use Windows, you'll probably want to use a program like DVD Decrypter for ripping the DVD and then a program like Videora iPod Convertor to do the conversion (these are both free programs -- try googling for them). I've used Videora to convert a lot of TV shows for the iPod, and it's pretty fast and good, once you figure out the interface. I've had issues with the sound going out of sync when trying widescreen video, however. Again, see the TV/Video Forum over at for more details on converting DVDs with Windows.
icruise Nov 18, 2005 12:45 AM
How do I make a file remember my place when I stop listening to it?
If you listen to audio books or radio shows on your iPod, it can be very useful to be able to stop in the middle and come back to where you left off later. For a long time this was only possible with files, but the latest versions of iTunes allow you to designate certain files as "bookmarkable." Just get info on the track and select "Remember Playback Position" under "Options." If you need to do it for a lot of songs at once, use the "Selected Tracks Bookmarkable" script from Doug Adams's iTunes applescripts site. I highly recommend this site. There are dozens of Applescripts there that make organizing your library much much easier.

Note, however, that this won't work if you have a 3rd generation iPod or earlier.
icruise Nov 23, 2005 07:46 PM
How do I use my iPod with more than one computer?
By default, the iPod is set to "sync" with your computer. This means that it will copy everything in your iTunes library on your computer (songs, playlists, etc) onto your iPod. This is fine if you have a music collection smaller in size than your iPod and you only want to use your iPod with a single computer. However, if for some reason you want to be able to use your iPod with more than one computer (a work computer and a home computer, for example) this will not work. If you try and plug your iPod into a computer while it is set to sync with another one, it will ask you if you want to replace what is on the iPod with what is on the new computer (erasing all the music on the iPod in the process). This is obviously not what you want.

To use an iPod with more than one computer, you will need to turn on manual updating. Go to the iPod preferences in iTunes. Instead of "Automatically update all songs and playlists" choose "Manually manage songs and playlists." This will turn your iPod into something like a giant disk from which you can manually add or delete songs.

There are some disadvantages to this, however. If you turn off syncing, new songs that you add to your iTunes library will not automatically be copied over to the iPod. You will have to copy them manually by dragging them from the iTunes library over to the iPod icon in the left-hand side of the iTunes window. Also, play counts and ratings are not copied over from your iPod to your library, so if you rate your songs on the go or use smart playlists to see what songs you haven't played recently, this might not be the best choice for you.

Also remember that if you have any music purchased from the iTunes Music Store that you want to play off of your iPod on your second computer, you will have to authorize that computer with your iTMS account. (Technically speaking, you don't authorize an iPod to play iTMS music. You authorize the computer, which allows you to copy your music to any iPod connected to that computer.)
icruise Nov 23, 2005 11:51 PM
Will my new video iPod fit in my old iPod's dock? What about the nano?
The answer is "maybe." There have been several different sizes of iPod docks. Some of them will work, some may be a little too snug. My 60GB iPod with video works fine with my 3G 40GB iPod's dock, but it won't fit in a 20GB dock. It's probably a slightly looser fit than the official dock, but it works fine. The nano will fit in any dock and the dock connector will allow the nano to stand up, although it will be off center.

There are some people's experiences in this thread, so I'd suggest looking or asking here if you're not sure if your combination of iPod and dock will work.
icruise Dec 2, 2005 01:21 PM
How do I reset the display language for my iPod if I can't read the language I accidentally selected?
(Taken from this thread):
From the manual:
1. Push Menu repeatedly until the main menu appears.

2. Select the fourth menu item (Settings).

3. Select the last menu item (Reset All Settings).

4. Select the second menu item (Reset) and select a language.
It then goes on to say that this will reset all of your other custom menu settings.
However, this won't work if you've added or deleted items from the main menu (since "Settings" will be in a different position than they say). If that is the case, you might just try blindly selecting some things and seeing if you can find the right option. If that fails, you'll probably have to restore your iPod to the factory state by using the latest iPod updater software. This will reset all your menus and also delete your music from the iPod, so you will have to sync again with iTunes.
icruise Dec 2, 2005 01:50 PM
Can the new iPods (iPod nano and iPod with video) be used with a firewire connection?
No. Apple has removed firewire as an option for the latest generation of iPods. They use only USB. However, the new iPods will still charge using firewire, so you can charge them using a firewire connection to your computer and you can still make use of any old firewire chargers that you might have around.

I don't have USB 2 on my computer. Can I still use the new iPods?
Yes, but there are some things you need to keep in mind. First of all, if you have a computer that is expandable (such as a PowerMac or a PowerBook with a PC-card slot) then your best bet is to just buy a USB 2 card. They aren't particularly expensive.

If you have an unexpandable computer like an eMac, iMac, iBook or 12" PowerBook, then your only option is to use the much slower USB 1.1 interface. Using USB 1.1, it would take many many hours to completely fill an iPod. However, if you don't plan to do a lot of adding or changing of the music on your iPod, you could just leave it for a day or so for the initial sync. Subsequent syncs will be a lot shorter, but still much longer than it would take with USB 2. It's not exactly an ideal situation, but it is a workaround for those people who don't have USB 2 and can't upgrade their computers.
icruise Dec 2, 2005 02:11 PM
How do I copy music from my iPod to my computer?
Apple doesn't allow you to copy music from your iPod to your computer using iTunes or the finder (or Windows explorer). This is apparently because this would make it too easy for people to share music. Luckily, there are many third-party shareware and freeware programs out there designed to get around this limitation. So if your computer has gone belly up and you need to reconstruct your music library from what it is on your iPod, you are in luck.

A good program if you are using Mac OS X 10.3 or above is Senuti.

You can also try going somewhere like and search for "ipod".
icruise Dec 20, 2005 11:49 AM
Can I use more than one iPod on my computer?
Yes. You can use any number of iPods with the same music library. The preferences for what part of the library is copied to the iPod are saved separately for each iPod. So you could have one iPod that is set to sync your entire library, another that only copies over a few selected playlists, and another that you manually copy songs to. There is also no limit to the number of iPods that you can copy your iTunes music store purchases to.
icruise Feb 16, 2006 04:41 AM
I've imported some TV shows that I ripped myself, but they won't show up under "TV Shows" on my iPod or in Front Row!
(NOTE: Version 7 of iTunes enables you to edit all of the tags for video files, which allows you to set your own videos as "TV Shows" and also embed information like the show name and episode number, etc. I will keep the information below in case anyone needs it.)

While TV shows you download from the iTunes Music Store work fine, iTunes does not at present completely support designating your own videos as "TV Shows." You can select it in the "Get Info" window and it will show up in some parts of iTunes, but it will not show up on your iPod or in Front Row. (In previous versions of iTunes, you couldn't even select "TV Shows".) Until Apple fixes this, you have two options. The easy way is to simply make playlists for all of your TV shows and access them on your iPod using those playlists (not the "TV Shows" menu item.)

On the Macintosh, the other option that I know of is to use the program called Lostify, which can insert the proper information into your files, making them show up in your iPod's "TV Shows" menu and in Front Row. This is a little time consuming, though, since Lostify actually makes new copies of your files with the information in them. You have to delete the old versions and probably rename the ones that Lostify created. Finally, you will have to delete them from iTunes if you already imported them and reimport them. If you don't do this, they don't seem to show up properly at least in Front Row. Lostify can be downloaded here.

I've read of some other options for Windows, but I am not really familiar with them. Check out's forums for more information on this kind of thing.
icruise Sep 21, 2006 10:45 PM
Questions about the new iPods released in September 2006
What are the differences between the old video iPods and the new ones?
The new iPods have a 60% brighter screen, better battery life (up to 6.5 hours for video and 20 hours for audio on the 80GB model) and a search mode. They are a bit cheaper than the old models and come with different earphones (with no foam covers).

The other new features of the iPods have been enabled for the older video iPods, as long as they are updated to version 1.2 of the iPod software. These include the ability to play games, gapless playback (which removes the short silence between tracks that are supposed to run together), the "current letter" displayed while scrolling through a list, and the ability to play the 640 x 480 h.264 video that is used for the movies sold in the iTunes Store.

Can the old video iPods play the games sold on the iTunes Store?
Yes. They can play the games included with the iPod and the games sold on the iTunes Store, just like the newest models. Other iPods (including the nano) cannot play the games sold on the iTunes Store.

Can the old video iPods play the movies sold on the iTunes Store?
Yes, they can play movies in the same way as the newest iPods.

How can I encode video in the larger resolution h.264 format that the iPods now support?
Your first option is to use Quicktime Pro, but that is somewhat expensive and very slow. You can also try ViddyUp (formerly Podner) which has recently been updated to support this format. Handbrake has not yet been updated to support this format, so for the moment converting DVDs to the new high-resolution format is a two-step process involving first converting with Handbrake at a large resolution and then using something like Quicktime Pro or ViddyUp to convert that file.
icruise Sep 24, 2006 07:20 AM
Can I keep my iTunes music or videos on an external hard disk?
Yes. It's actually pretty easy once you understand how iTunes works.

The first thing you need to know when managing your iTunes music over multiple volumes is where your iTunes Music folder is. The default location of this on a Mac is username/Music/iTunes/. On a PC, it is /Documents and Settings/username/My Documents/My Music/iTunes. However, this location can be changed by going to "Advanced - General" in the iTunes preferences and clicking the "Change" button by "iTunes Music folder location." So if you simply want to keep your music on an external hard disk, it is as simple as choosing a folder on that disk as the new location for your iTunes Music folder.

One other thing you will need to be aware of is the "Copy files to iTunes Music Folder when adding to library" option. If this is checked under "Advanced - General" in the iTunes preferences, iTunes will copy anything you add to its library to the iTunes Music Folder. This is probably a good setting for most people, but if you want to have your music span multiple hard disks, or if you already have a bunch of files and folders set up just the way you want, you might prefer that iTunes not copy your music to the iTunes Music folder. In that case, just turn off the above option and only links to the music or videos will be added to your iTunes library. This means that the music or videos will appear in your library, but will remain where they are on your hard disk.

But you actually don't have to choose between adding all files to your library or adding none. If you hold down the Option key while dragging some files to your library, it will do the opposite of whatever you option you have set. For example, if you have iTunes set to not copy files to your library, but you have some files that you do want it to copy, just hold down option while dragging them into the library and they will be copied (you can tell if something will be copied or not by whether there is a + sign on your mouse cursor).
icruise Sep 24, 2006 06:31 PM
What are the rules of the FairPlay DRM scheme used in the iTunes Store?
I'm going to point you to my blog for this one, since I've already written an article detailing all of the FairPlay rules.

iTunes Music Store Special Report: FairPlay DRM Explained
All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:06 AM.

Copyright © 2005-2007 MacNN. All rights reserved.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.3.2