How to Use Multiple iPods & iPhones on One Computer: Playlists

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These days, it's extremely common to a single household will have multiple iPods, iPads, or iPhones. That situation can get a little tricky if everyone in the house all shares just one computer. Syncing different content to different devices all from the same computer can be a complex and messy proposition. After all, you want to make sure you end up only with the content you want on your device.

So, how do you handle multiple iPods on one computer? Luckily, iTunes has no trouble managing multiple iPods and iPhones regularly synced to the same computer.

Options For Managing Multiple iPods and iPhones on One Computer

This article covers managing multiple iPods on one computer using playlists. This is best when you're just syncing music. If you need to sync other kinds of data, too, you may want a more comprehensive option. Other approaches include:

Which method you use for syncing data to all of your family's devices depends on a number of factors. To get an overview of each option and tips for which is best for you, check out How to Use Multiple iPhones on One Computer.

How to Manage Multiple iPods and iPhones Using Playlists

Once you've decided that playlists are the way you want to keep all of your devices in sync, follow these steps:

  1. When you set up each iPod, iPhone, or iPad be sure to give each one a unique name so they're easy to tell apart (you'll probably do this anyway, but it's good to remember).
  2. When you set up the each device, you'll have the option to Automatically sync songs to my iPod (or other device) during the initial configuration process. Leave that box unchecked.
  3. Next, in iTunes, create a playlist for each person who is going to sync their device to this computer. Give the playlist that person's name or something else clear and distinct that will make it obvious whose playlist it is.
  4. Fill each playlists full of the songs each person wants on their iPod or other device. This makes it easy to ensure that everyone gets only get the music they want on their iPod or iPhone.
    1. One thing to remember: Whenever you add new music to iTunes and want to sync it to an individual iPod or iPhone, the new music must be added to the correct playlist.
  5. Sync each iPod, iPhone, or iPad with iTunes. When the device management screen appears, go to the Music menu. In that section, check the box next to Sync Music at the top.
  1. Check Selected playlists, artists, and genres. In the left-hand box below, you'll see all the playlists available in this iTunes library. Check the boxes next to the playlist or playlists you want to sync to the iPod. For instance, if you’ve created a playlist for your son, Jimmy, select the playlist called "Jimmy" to sync only that music to his device when he connects it.
  2. If you want to make sure that nothing other than the playlist syncs to the iPod or iPhone, make sure no other box in any of the windows (playlists, artists, genres, albums) is checked. It's OK to check things in those windows - just understand that will add music besides what's on the playlist you've selected.
  3. Click Apply at the bottom right of the iTunes window. This syncs the playlist selected in step 6 to the device that's connected to the computer.
  4. Repeat this for everyone in the house with an iPod or iPhone and you'll be all set to use multiple devices on one computer!