How to Gift a Preloaded iPod with Music Already Stored

Giving the Gift of Fully Stocked iPod

iPod Touch
Robert Wetzlmayr/Flickr/CC by 2.0

This question generally comes up in two circumstances: you’re giving a new iPod as a gift or in a contest, but want to load it with music you think the recipient will like, or you’re handing down an old iPod to a friend or family member now that you’ve gotten a new one.

Giving an iPod That's Pre-Loaded with Music

Apple makes giving a preloaded iPod away to another person to do (and with good reason, as we’ll see below). By design, iPods sync to only one computer, and when they’re synced with another one, the music on them is deleted and replaced by music from the second computer. Despite that, there are ways to give the gift of a fully stocked iPod.

What You'll Need:

  • An iPod
  • iPod to computer transfer software
  • A USB iPod cable
  • A computer

How to Pre-Load an iPod

  1. In order to do this, you’ll need a program that can perform an iPod-to-computer transfer. There are many options in this area — from free programs to commercial ones. Read reviews, evaluate your options, and make a selection. Free programs are appealing, but some place restrictions, such as limiting the number of songs that can be transferred at one time, that will make them more work than they’re worth.
    1. Make sure your choose an iPod to computer transfer program that will move all album art, playlists, and other related information.
  2. Once you’ve selected the software, the recipient will need to install it on their computer. It’s a better gift if you do this for them, of course, but if the iPod is part of a contest, you won’t be able to do that. Just make sure the iPod-to-computer transfer program is compatible with their operating system.
  3. Now, run the iPod to computer transfer program. This will move the music you loaded onto the iPod to the computer’s iTunes library, where it needs to be in order for it not to be erased.
  1. Next, restore the iPod to its factory settings. This will delete all of the contents of the iPod, but if you’ve used the transfer program properly, they’ll be saved on the computer. Follow the onscreen instructions to set up the iPod as if it were new.
  2. Lastly, as part of the iPod set-up process, the recipient of the iPod can choose to sync whatever music they like to their new music player. This can include the music that was pre-loaded on the iPod or music they already had in their iTunes library.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

One important note about this gift: it’s not necessarily ethical or legal, depending on your take on some key issues and the law where you live. Apple doesn’t allow you to sync your music from an iPod to a computer to prevent exactly this kind of music sharing.

Music companies charge that this is piracy. Copyright and consumer advocates argue that this kind of sharing is within user’s rights since it’s not so different from making a mix CD (or tape, if you go back that far).

Whether it’s legal or not, you should also consider the ethical implications. Musicians make their livings, in part, from the sales of their songs and CDs. By giving away a song to your friend, you may be preventing a sale — either of a CD or a download from iTunes — that your friend otherwise would have made, thus earning the artist some money.

A gift of an iPod packed with music may seem great, but you’ll need to decide whether it’s right to potentially deprive the artists of money for their work if you give it.