How to Put Music on an iPod

Load your iPod Classic, Nano, Mini, and Shuffle with music

Having an iPod is cool, but iPods aren't much use without music on them. To enjoy your mobile music device, you have to learn how to put music on the iPod.

Information in this article applies to the iPods that do not connect to the internet: iPod Classic, iPod Mini, iPod Nano, and iPod Shuffle.

iPods Sync With iTunes, Not iCloud

The iPod Classic, iPod Mini, iPod Nano, and iPod Shuffle don't have an internet connection of their own. When you want to put media on them, you use the iTunes program on your desktop or laptop computer to download songs to the iPod, using a process called syncing, not iCloud.

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When you connect your iPod to a computer running iTunes, you can add almost any music and—depending on the model you have—other content such as video, podcasts, photos, and audiobooks that's on that computer to the iPod.

How to Put Music on an iPod Classic, Mini, Nano, and Shuffle

Make sure you have iTunes installed on your computer and have added music to your iTunes library. You can get music by ripping songs from CDs, downloading it from the internet, and buying it at online stores like the iTunes Store, among other means. These iPods don't support streaming music services like Spotify or Apple Music.

Apple replaced iTunes for Mac in 2019 with the release of macOS Catalina. Your iTunes music library is now located in the Music app, but you transfer music to your iPod using the Finder. When you connect your iPod to the Mac, it appears in the Finder. Just drag and drop files onto the device. Windows PC users can still use iTunes for Windows.

  1. Connect your iPod to your computer using the USB cable that came with it. You can't use just any cable; you need one that fits Apple's Dock Connector or Lightning port, depending on your model. If iTunes isn't already open on your computer, it opens now. If you haven't set up your iPod yet, iTunes walks you through the setup process.

  2. After you go through the setup process or if your iPod has already been set up, you see the main iPod management screen. If you don't see it, click the iPod icon in iTunes to get to this screen. The screen shows a picture of your iPod and has a set of tabs along the side or across the top, depending on the version of iTunes you have. The first tab menu is Music. Select it.

  3. The first option in the Music tab is Sync Music. Check the box next to it. If you don't, you won't be able to download songs.


  4. The options that become available are:

    • Entire Music Library does what it says. It syncs all the music in your iTunes library to your iPod (space permitting).
    • Sync Selected playlists, artists, and genres allows you to choose the music that goes on your iPod using those categories. Check the boxes next to the items you want to sync.
    • Include music videos syncs any music videos in your iTunes library to your iPod (assuming it can play video).
  5. For more precise control over the songs that sync to your iPod, make a playlist and sync only that playlist or uncheck songs to prevent them from being added to your iPod.

  6. Select Apply at the bottom of the iTunes window after you change the settings and determine which songs you want to download.

    This begins the process of syncing songs to your iPod. How long it takes depends on how many songs you're downloading. When syncing is complete, you have successfully added music to your iPod.

  7. To add other content, such as audiobooks or podcasts (if your iPod supports these), look for other tabs in iTunes, near the Music tab. Click the appropriate tabs and choose your options on those screens. Sync again, and that content is transferred to your iPod, too.

Some older versions of iTunes allowed you to sync music to MP3 players that were made by companies other than Apple. Learn about all the non-Apple MP3 players that were compatible with iTunes.

How to Put Music on an iPhone or iPod Touch

The early iPods were all limited to syncing with iTunes, but that's not the case with the iPhone and iPod touch. Because those devices can connect to the internet and can run apps, they have many more options for adding music.