How to Set Up the iPod Shuffle

Apple iPod Shuffle 4th Generation
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The major difference between the iPod Shuffle and the other iPods is that it doesn’t have a screen. Despite that difference, setting up an iPod Shuffle is fairly similar to setting up other models. If your Shuffle is your first iPod, don't worry: it's pretty easy.

The instructions in this article apply (with minor variations depending on the model) to the following iPod Shuffle models: 4th Generation iPod Shuffle and 3rd Generation iPod Shuffle. The iPod Shuffle line was discontinued by Apple in 2017.

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Start iPod Shuffle Setup

Begin by plugging the Shuffle into the included USB adapter and plugging that into a USB port on your computer. When you do this, iTunes will launch automatically. In the main iTunes window, you'll see the Welcome To Your New iPod screen shown. Click Continue.

Next, you'll need to agree to some legal terms of use for the Shuffle, the iTunes Store, and iTunes. Click the checkbox and then click Continue.

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Create or Sign In to iTunes Account

Creating or signing into your AppleID

The next step in setting up the iPod Shuffle is to sign in to, or create, an Apple ID account. You'll need this both because it's associated with your Shuffle (or any other iPod/iPhone/iPad you use) and because it's required to purchase or download music, podcasts, or other content from the iTunes Store.

If you already have an Apple ID, sign in with it here. If not, click the button next to I do not have an Apple ID and follow the onscreen instructions for creating one.

When you've done this, click the Continue button.

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Register Your Shuffle

Registering your iPod

The next step is to register your Shuffle with Apple. Fill in your contact information and then decide if you want to receive email marketing from Apple (leave the box checked if you do, uncheck it if you don't). Click Submit.

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Give Your Shuffle a Name

Naming your iPod shuffle in iTunes

Sam Costello 

Next, give your Shuffle a name. This is what the Shuffle will be called in iTunes when you sync it. You can always change the name in iTunes later, if you want.

When you've given your Shuffle a name, you'll need to decide what to do with the pair of options below it:

  • Automatically sync songs to my iPod automatically updates your Shuffle with music, podcasts, and Genius mixes each time you sync. Uncheck this if you want to manually manage your music (more on that in Step 6).
  • Enable VoiceOver will allows your Shuffle to speak menu items and song and artist names to you. If you choose this, installation instructions for the VoiceOver kit will appear in a pop-up window. Simply follow the onscreen instructions.

When you've made your selections, click Done.

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iPod Management Screen

Configuring your iPod shuffle's options

The next screen is the iPod management screen, which appears each time you sync your Shuffle. This is where you control the Shuffle's settings and what content gets synced to it.

There are two boxes to pay attention to here: Version and Options.

The Version box is where you do two things:

  • Check to see if there's a new version of the software that runs the Shuffle and if so, update it.
  • Restore the Shuffle from backup.

The Options box offers a number of settings:

  • Open iTunes when this iPod is connected: You'll probably want to keep this checked so iTunes will open each time you connect your Shuffle.
  • Sync only checked songs: Lets you control what songs are synced to your Shuffle. Check this if your iTunes library is bigger than your Shuffle's capacity (which it almost certainly will be). Learn how to sync only certain songs.
  • Enable Sound Check: Check this to turn on Sound Check. This feature equalizes the volume of your songs so some aren't very loud while others are super quiet.
  • Convert higher bit rate songs to 128 kbps AAC: Converts songs to the AAC format during syncing. This conserves space and lets you bring more songs with you. When you check this, the songs are only changed on your Shuffle, not in iTunes.
  • Manually manage music: As mentioned earlier, choose this if you want to prevent automatic syncing and manually add and remove songs on your Shuffle.
  • Enable disk use: Use the storage space on the Shuffle like a removable hard drive. Learn more here.
  • Voice Feedback: As mentioned earlier, this enables VoiceOver. It also allows you to choose the language that VoiceOver will speak in.
  • Limit Maximum Volume: Prevents the volume from being raised over a certain level. This can be good for protecting your hearing. If you enable it, slide the volume level below to set the maximum. If you want to lock this setting (for instance, if you're setting up the Shuffle for a child), click the lock icon.
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Syncing Music

Choosing what content to sync with your iPod shuffle

There are a handful of tabs across the top of the screen. Click Music to control what music you sync to your Shuffle.

  • Sync Music: Check this to add music from iTunes to your Shuffle.
  • Entire Music Library: Syncs all your iTunes music to your Shuffle. Since most people's iTunes libraries are larger than their Shuffles, you probably want to be able to choose this option. Instead, you'll want to select the next option.
  • Selected playlists, artists, and genres: Controls what music is synced from iTunes to your Shuffle. Sync playlists by checking the playlists you want on the left or everything from a given artist by checking the boxes on the right. Sync everything you have in a particular genre, or just a specific album, by clicking the bottom boxes.
  • Automatically fill free space with songs: Fills unused space on your Shuffle with music that's not already synced (obviously this doesn't work if your Shuffle is already full).
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Syncing Podcasts, iTunes U, and Audiobooks

Syncing playlists on the iPod shuffle

The other tabs at the top of the iPod Management Screen allow you to sync other kinds of audio content to your Shuffle. They are podcasts, iTunes U educational lectures, and audiobooks. Controlling how they sync is the same for all three.

  • Sync: To sync these items, click the Sync Podcasts, etc. button at the top of each screen. Do that and the other options are enabled.
    • To sync individual episodes, click the name of the series in the left-hand column. This will show all available episodes. In the right-hand column, click the boxes for the ones you want to sync to your Shuffle.
  • Automatically include: Automatically sync content that meets criteria you set: unwatched, newest, newest unwatched, oldest unwatched, and all content or just selected items.
  • Books/Podcasts/Collections: Lists all of the series in your iTunes library, and how many episodes of each you have. New or unlistened episodes have a blue dot to their left. Click each podcast/collection for the list of episodes from that series.

When you've completed making all your sync setting updates, click the Apply button in the bottom right-hand corner of the iTunes window. This saves your settings and updates the contents of your Shuffle based on the setting you just created.

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