How to Set up & Sync iPod Touch

Blue, gold and red iPod touch devices

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

 When you turn on your new iPod touch, you'll notice that it comes out of the box with its battery partly charged. In order to fully use it, though, you'll have to set it up and sync it. Here's how you do that.

These instructions apply to the following models:


The first three steps apply only to the iPod touch the first time you set it up. After that, whenever you plug the touch into your computer to sync, you'll skip right to step 4.

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Initial Set Up

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The first time you set up your iPod touch, you have to choose a number of settings on the touch itself and then choose sync settings on your computer. To do this, begin by tapping the touch's On/Off button to turn it on. Next, follow the steps from the iPhone setup guide. While that article is for the iPhone, the process for the touch is nearly identical. The only difference is the iMessage screen, where you choose the phone number and email address you'll use for iMessage.

Sync Settings and Regular Syncing

When that's complete, move on to creating your sync settings. Begin by plugging your iPod touch into your computer's USB port using the included cable. When you do this, iTunes will launch if it's not already running. If you don't have iTunes on your computer, learn how to download and install it.

When you plug it in, the iPod touch will appear in the Devices menu in the left-hand column of iTunes and the Welcome to your New iPod screen shown above will appear. Click Continue.

Next, you'll be asked to agree to Apple's software licensing agreement (which will likely only be interesting if you’re a lawyer; regardless, you need to agree to it to use the iPod). Click the checkbox at the bottom of the window and then click Continue.

Next, either enter your Apple ID/iTunes account or, if you don't have one, create one. You'll need the account to download or buy content at iTunes, including apps, so it's pretty essential. It's also free and easy to set up.

Once that's done, you'll need to register your iPod touch with Apple. Like the software license agreement, this is a requirement. The optional items on this screen include deciding whether you want Apple to send you promotional emails or not. Fill out the form, make your decisions, and click Continue and we'll be on our way to the more interesting stuff.

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Set up as New Or Restore iPod from Backup

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This is another step you only have to worry about when setting up your iPod touch. When you sync normally, you won't see this.

Next, you'll have the chance to either set your iPod touch up as a new device or restore a previous back up to it.

If this is your first iPod, click the button next to Set up as a new iPod and click Continue.

However, if you've previously had an iPhone or iPod or iPad, you'll have a backup of that device on your computer (they're made every time you sync). If so, you can choose to restore the backup to your new iPod touch. This will add all your settings and apps, etc., without you having to set them up again. If you want to do this, click the button next to Restore from the backup of, choose the backup you want from the drop-down menu, and click the Continue button.

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Choose iPod Touch Sync Settings

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This is the last step in the setup process. After this, we're on to syncing. On this screen, you should give your iPod touch a name and choose your content sync settings. Your options are:

  • Automatically sync songs and videos to my iPod - This adds your iTunes music library to the iPod touch. If your library takes up more space than your touch has, iTunes will add a random selection to fill it.
  • Automatically add photos to this iPod - Add the photo albums you have saved on your hard drive in the photo management program you use.
  • Automatically sync applications - Syncs any apps you've got in your iTunes library to your iPod touch.

You can always add these items after the iPod touch is set up. You might choose not to auto-sync content if your library is larger than the capacity of your iPod touch or you only want to sync certain content to it.

When you're ready, click Done.

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iPod Management Screen

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This screen shows basic overview information about your iPod touch. It's also where you control what gets synced.

iPod Box
In the box at the top of the screen, you'll see a picture of your iPod touch, its name, storage capacity, version of the iOS it's running, and serial number.

Version Box
Here you can:

  • Check for a new version of the iOS and, if one is available, update your touch
  • Restore your iPod touch to factory settings or to a backup (like two steps ago).
  • Options Box
    Open iTunes when this iPod is connected - Check this if you want iTunes to launch and sync when you connect your touch. You may want to uncheck this if you connect your touch to multiple computers.
  • Sync only checked songs and videos - You'll want to check this if your iTunes library is bigger than your touch's storage capacity. Learn how to sync only certain songs.
  • Prefer standard definition videos - Helps you conserve disk space by syncing the smaller standard-definition version of a video when you have both HD and standard definition versions.
  • Convert higher bit rate songs to 128 kbps AAC - Converts your music to the AAC format during syncing to conserve space. This only changes the files on your iPod touch, not in your iTunes library.
  • Manually manage music and videos - This disables automatic syncing and lets you to manually add and remove all content on your device. For more advanced users only.
  • Encrypt iPod backup - Put a password on your backup files so others can't access them.
  • Configure Universal Access - Turns on accessibility options needed by users with hearing or visual impairments.

Bottom Bar
Displays your touch's storage capacity and how much space each type of data takes up. Click on the text below the bar to see additional information.

Across the top of the page, you'll see tabs that let you manage other kinds of content on your touch. Click those to get more options.

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Download Apps to the iPod Touch

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On the Apps page, you can control what apps you load onto your touch and how they're arranged.

Apps List

The column on the left shows all the apps that have been downloaded to your iTunes library. Check the box next to the app to add it to your iPod touch. Check Automatically sync new apps if you want new apps to always be added to your touch.

App Arrangement

The right side shows your iPod touch's home screen. Use this view to arrange apps and make folders before you sync. This will save you the time and trouble of doing it on your touch.

  • How to Add/Remove Apps - Add apps to your touch either by checking the box next to the app in the left column or by dragging the app from that box onto the screen in the right column. To delete an app from your touch, hover your mouse over it and click the X.
  • Arrange Apps - To move and groups apps, drag the icon to where you want it. Move an app to another screen by dragging it one of the screens in the narrow far-right column.
  • How to Make/Delete Folders - To make or delete folders to hold apps, read these directions.
  • How to Add/Remove Screens - To add another screen for apps, drag an app to the last, gray screen in the narrow column on the far right. Remove screens by moving all the apps on it to other screens.

File Sharing

Some apps can transfer files between your iPod touch and computer. If you have any of those apps installed, a box will appear below the main apps box that allows you to manage those files. Click on the app and either add files from your hard drive or move files from the app to your hard drive.

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Download Music & Ringtones to iPod Touch

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Click the Music tab to access the options for controlling what music is synced to your touch.

  • Sync Music - This must be checked if you want to add music from your iTunes library to your touch.
  • Entire Music Library not surprisingly syncs all your iTunes music. This only works if your touch has enough storage to hold your library. If it doesn't, you'll get as much of your music as can fit.
  • Include music videos syncs music videos if you have any.
  • Include voice memos syncs voice recordings.
  • Automatically fill free space with songs - This fills any empty storage space on your touch with music that hasn't already been added to it (obviously this doesn't work if your touch can't store your entire library in the first place).
  • Selected playlists, artists, and genres click the button to choose what music gets synced to your iPod touch.
    • When you choose this, iTunes syncs only the music you select. Sync playlists by checking the boxes on the left or all music by particular artists by checking the boxes on the right. Sync all music in a particular genre, or from a given album, by clicking the boxes at the bottom.

The Ringtones tab works in very much the same way. In order to sync ringtones to your touch, you must click the Sync Ringtones button. You can then choose either All ringtones or Selected ringtones. If you choose Selected ringtones, click on the box to the left of each ringtone you want to sync to your touch.

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Download Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, & iTunes U onto iPod Touch

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The screens that let you select what movies, TV shows, podcasts, and iTunes U content gets synced to your iPod touch all work essentially the same way, so I've combined them here.

  • Sync - To sync any of these kinds of content, you must click the Sync Movies or Sync Podcasts, etc. buttons at the top of each screen. When you do that, other options will appear.
    • To sync individual episodes, click the series on the left. This will show all available installments. Click the box to the right of the ones you want to sync.
  • Automatically include - Check this to automatically sync content that matches these criteria: unwatched, newest, newest unwatched, oldest unwatched, and from all content or just selected items.
  • Shows/Podcasts/Collections - Lists all of the series of each type that are in your iTunes library, as well as how many episodes and, with TV shows, what seasons. New or unwatched installments are marked with a blue dot next to them. Click each show/podcast/collection for the full list of that series.
  • Include Episodes from Playlists - This applies to TV shows and podcasts only. Both of these kinds of content can be added to playlists. If you want to include episodes that are part of a playlist, check the box to the left of that playlist at the bottom of the screen.
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Download Books to iPod Touch

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The Books tab allows you to choose how iBooks files, PDFs, and audiobooks are synced to your iPod touch.

  • Sync Books - This box must be checked in order to sync books and related files from your computer. When it's checked, you'll be able to choose from the sections below.
  • All/Selected Books - Check All books to sync every book you have. Check Selected books to control which ones are synced.
  • Sorting Options - The drop-down menus in the Books box lets you sort books by file type (Books and PDF files, Only Books, Only PDF files) and by title or author.

Below the Books is the section for Audiobooks. The syncing options there work the same way as Books.

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Sync Photos

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You can take your photos with you by syncing your iPod touch with your iPhoto (or other photo management software) library using the Photos tab.

  • Sync Photos From - This box enables syncing of photos back and forth between your hard drive and your touch. Use the drop-down menu to choose iPhoto or another location that contains your photo library.
  • All photos, albums, events, and faces - Does just what it sounds like: syncs all your photo-related content.
  • Selected photos, albums, events, and faces and automatically include - Choose this to control which photos and other items are synced. It also lets you sync photos based on when they were taken (this option is found in the drop down).
    • Select that and you'll be able to select individual items in the Albums, Events, and Faces box.
  • Include videos - Syncs videos taken by the touch's built-in camera.
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Syncing Other Email, Notes, and Other Info

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The final tab, Info, lets you manage what contacts, calendars, email accounts, and other data are added to your iPod Touch.

Sync Address Book Contacts

You can sync all of your contacts or just selected groups. The other options in this box are:

  • Add contacts created outside of groups on this iPod to - Lets you decide what group new contacts should be added to by default if a group isn't specified.
  • Sync Yahoo! Address Book contacts - Does what it says.
  • Sync Google Contacts - Ditto.

Sync iCal Calendars

Here you can choose to sync all of your iCal calendars or just some. You can also set the touch to not sync events older than a number of days that you choose.

Sync Mail Accounts

Choose which email accounts on your computer will be added to the touch. This syncs email account names and settings only, not the messages.


Decide if you want to sync your desktop Safari web browser bookmarks, and/or notes created in the Notes app.


Lets you overwrite data on the iPod touch with information on the computer. Syncing usually merges data, but this option--which is best for more advanced users--replaces all the touch's data with the computer's data for the selected items.


And with that, you've adjusted all the sync settings for the iPod touch. Click the Sync button in the bottom right corner of the iTunes window to save these settings and sync all the new content to your touch. Do this each time you change the sync settings to commit them.