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

Keep everyone's music separate

family looking at laptop

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If your household has multiple iPods, iPads, or iPhones and everyone shares one computer, use iTunes to manage multiple iPods and iPhones and regularly sync these devices to the same Mac or PC. When you use iTunes to sync different content to different devices from the same library, you'll have the content you want on your device.

Instructions in this article apply to iTunes 9 and later.

Options For Managing Multiple iPods and iPhones on One Computer

One way to manage multiple devices on a single computer is to create playlists. This method works best when syncing only music. If you need to sync other kinds of data such as apps, videos, and TV shows, you may want a more comprehensive option. Other approaches include:

The method you use to sync data to 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, learn how to use multiple iPhones on one computer.

How to Manage Multiple iPods and iPhones Using Playlists

To use playlists to keep your devices in sync:

  1. When you set up each iPod, iPhone, or iPad, give each device a unique name.

  2. During the initial configuration process, clear the Automatically sync songs to my iPod (or another device) check box.

  3. In iTunes, create a playlist for each person who is going to sync their device to the computer. Give the playlist that person's name or something else that shows whose playlist it is.

  4. Fill each playlist with the songs each person wants on their device. Sort the music to ensure that everyone gets only get the content they want on their iPod or iPhone.

    When new music is added to iTunes and you want to sync it to an individual iPod or iPhone, add the music to the appropriate playlist.

  5. Sync each iPod, iPhone, or iPad with iTunes. When the device management screen appears, go to Music and select the Sync Music check box.

    The Device Management screen in iTunes with the Music heading and Sync Music box highlighted
  6. Check Selected playlists, artists, and genres. Then, in the Playlists section, select the playlist or playlists you want to sync to the iPod, iPhone, or iPad.

    To make sure that nothing other than the playlist syncs to the iPod or iPhone, clear the other check boxes in the Sync Music section.

    Music screen in iTunes with Selected playlists button highlighted
  7. Click Apply to sync the selected playlist to the device that's connected to the computer.

    Music settings in iTunes with the Apply button highlighted
  8. Repeat this for every iPod or iPhone, and you'll be set to use multiple devices on one computer.