How to Set Up an iPod

iPod Classic
iPod Classic. image credit: Apple Inc.

 Getting a new iPod is exciting. While most iPod models work at least a little bit when you take them out of the box, they won't have content on them. And what good is an iPod without some music?

To get the most of your new iPod, you need to set it up. Luckily, it's an easy process. Here's what you need to do.

This article covers setting up the iPod Classic and other iPods in the original line. If you have a different model, we've got guides specific to your needs. Check out Set Up Instructions for iPod Nano, How to Set up the iPod Shuffle, or How to Set up & Sync iPod Touch.

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Start By Installing iTunes

set up ipod, step 1

To set up your iPod for the first time, update its settings as you use it, and add content to it, you need iTunes. Begin setting up your iPod by installing iTunes. We have articles that provide step-by-step guides to installing iTunes:

Once iTunes is installed, connect your iPod to your computer. Do this by connecting the included USB cable to a USB port on your computer and the dock connector end of the cable to your iPod.

If you haven't already launched iTunes on your computer, it will automatically open when you do this. You'll be asked to fill out a form to register your iPod. Do so and click Submit.

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Name Your iPod & Choose Basic Settings

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The next onscreen instruction that appears during the iPod set up process lets you to name your iPod and choose some initial settings. On this screen, your options are:


This is the name your iPod will display when you connect it to your computer from now on. You can always change this later if you like.

Automatically Sync Songs to My iPod

Check this box if you want iTunes to automatically sync any music already in your iTunes library to your iPod. If you have more songs in your library than your iPod can hold, iTunes randomly loads songs until your iPod is full.

Automatically Add Photos to My iPod

This appears for iPods that can display photos. When checked, iTunes automatically adds photos stored in your photo management software.

iPod Language

Choose the language you want your iPod menus to be in.

When you've made your selections, click the Done button.

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Learning the iPod Management Screen

set up ipod, step 3

You're then delivered to the iPod management screen. This is the main interface where you'll manage the content on your iPod from now on. On this screen, your options include:

Check for Update

Periodically, Apple releases software updates for the iPod. To check to see if there's a new one, click this button. If there is an update, learn how to install it here.


Only use this when trying to fix problems with your iPod or if you're wiping it clean before selling it or sending it in for repairs. To restore your iPod to factory settings or from a backup, click this button.

Open iTunes When this iPod is Connected

Check this box if you want iTunes to open every time you connect your iPod to this computer.

Sync Only Checked Songs

This option lets you control what songs are synced to your iPod. To the left of each song in iTunes is a small checkbox. If you have this option turned on, only songs with those boxes checked will be synced to your iPod. This is a way of controlling what content syncs and what doesn't.

Convert Higher Bit Rate Songs to 128 kbps AAC

To fit more songs onto your iPod, you can check this option. It will automatically create 128 kbps AAC files of the songs you're syncing, which will take up less space. Since they're smaller files, they'll also be of lower sound quality, but probably not enough to notice in most cases. This is a useful option if you want to pack a lot of music onto a small iPod.

Manually Manage Music

This prevents your iPod from automatically syncing when you connect it.

Enable Disk Use

This lets your iPod function like a removable hard drive, in addition to a media player.

Configure Universal Access

Universal Access provides accessibility features. Click this button to turn those features on.

To commit these settings and update your iPod accordingly, click the Apply button in the bottom right corner of the window.

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Manage Music on Your iPod With iTunes

set up ipod, step 4


Across the top of the iPod management screen are a number of tabs that allow you to manage the content you sync to your iPod. Exactly which tabs are present depend on what iPod model you have and what its capabilities are. One tab that all iPods have is Music.

If you don't already have music loaded on your computer, there are a few ways to get it:

Once you've got music, your options for syncing it are:

Sync Music - Check this to be able to sync music.

Entire Music Library does what it sounds like: it adds all your music to your iPod. If your iTunes library is larger than your iPod's storage, iTunes will add a random selection of your music.

Selected playlists, artists, and genres lets you decide what music is loaded on your iPod.

When you choose this, iTunes only syncs music selected in the four boxes below to your iPod. Sync playlists from the box on the left or all music by a given artist via the boxes on the right. Add all music from a given genre, or from a particular album, in the boxes at the bottom.

Include music videos syncs music videos to your iPod, if you have any.

Automatically fill free space with songs fills any empty storage on your iPod with songs that you're not already syncing.

To commit these changes, click the "Apply" button at the bottom right. To make more changes before you sync, click another tab at the top of the window (this works for every type of content).

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Manage Podcasts & Audiobooks on Your iPod with iTunes

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You manage podcasts and audiobooks separately from other kinds of audio. To sync podcasts, make sure "Sync Podcasts" is checked. When it is, your options include Automatically including shows based on the following criteria: unwatched, newest, newest unwatched, oldest unwatched, and from all shows or just selected shows.

If you choose not to automatically include podcasts, uncheck that box. In that case, you can select a podcast in the boxes below and then check the box next to an episode of that podcast to sync it manually.

Audiobooks work the same way. Click on the Audiobooks tab to manage them.

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Manage Photos on Your iPod with iTunes

set up ipod, step 6


If your iPod can display photos (and all modern models, except the screenless iPod Shuffle, can do so), you can choose to sync photos from your hard drive to it for mobile viewing. Manage these settings in the Photos tab.

  • Sync Photos From - If you want to add photos to your iPod, make sure this box is checked. Then select the program or folder where you store your photo library.
  • All photos, albums, events, and faces - When you choose this, iTunes will sync all photos and related information.
  • Selected photos, albums, events, and faces and automatically include - If you only want to sync some photos, check this box.
    • When this is selected, the Albums, Events, and Faces box will light up and you'll be able to select individual items from within them by checking the boxes to the left of them.
  • Include full-resolution photos - If you select this, the full resolution, highest quality versions of your photos will be synced to your iPod. You can access them on your iPod if disk mode is enabled.
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Manage on Your iPod with iTunes


Some iPod models can play movies. If you have one of those models, these options will also appear across the top of the management screen.

iPod Models That Play Movies

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Create an Apple ID

change apple id email or password


In order to download or buy content from the iTunes, use apps, or do a few other things (like using Home Sharing), you need an iTunes account.