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How to add music to your Apple iPod...

You might be surprised to learn that the Apple iPod actually wasn't the first portable device capable of playing songs downloaded as digital files from the Internet. But everyone has pretty much forgotten the Eiger Labs MPMan, which in 1998 was the first digital music player on the market [source: Van Buskirk]. That's because the early portable devices, which early adopters used to play MP3 files that they'd copied from CDs or downloaded from file-sharing services like Napster tended to be clunky gadgets that could only store a few megabytes of music. More importantly, they took a certain amount of techno-nerditude and Web savvy to utilize. They were more novelties than must-haves [source: Schlender].

The iPod, introduced in 2001, changed all that. It had a five-gigabyte hard drive capable of storing the equivalent of 100 CDs and a lithium-polymer battery that could play music for 10 hours straight. The ingenious scroll wheel enabled a user to scroll through songs and playlists with ease. None of these features were completely new, but Apple packaged them in one incredibly cool-looking device.

Better yet, Apple made it very simple to load digital music onto the iPod. All you had to do was install iTunes music management software on your Mac computer and you could transfer 1,000 songs in 10 minutes, and also sync your playlists. If you didn't know how to find digital music on the Web, you could buy it from the iTunes store. (That was great for Apple, too, which quickly became a dominant digital music retailer.) Later versions made it possible to use the iPod with a PC, making it even more accessible [source: Schlender].

The iPod quickly became as ubiquitous as Starbucks and Air Jordans, and today it remains the portable jukebox of choice for everybody from pre-teen skateboarders to U.S. presidents. But while the iPod is designed to be easy to use, true digital music newbies can still find it a little bewildering. But don't worry, we're here to give you the guidance you need -- and we'll teach you a few tricks that Apple won't.
Back in the day, you needed to be a Mac person to use an iPod, but now even the nerdy PC guy in the Apple ads could do it -- provided that he has a USB 2.0 port. (By the way, in real life, John Hodgeman, the actor who plays the PC guy, is a longtime Mac head [source: Rojas].)
The most straightforward, pain-free way to put music on an iPod, of course, is to use the software that Apple wants you to use -- its proprietary music management software, iTunes. ITunes comes preloaded on Macs, and these days, it's loaded on a lot of major-brand PCs as well. If you don't have it on your PC, you can download it for free from Apple's Web site and install it. Once you do that, you can use it to sync music on your computer hard drive with your iPod, import music from CDs and the Internet, buy songs from the iTunes store, and create personal greatest-hits collections called playlists. You can also burn songs from your iPod onto a CD via your computer's optical drive [source: iPod Classic User Guide].
It's all pretty simple. When you install iTunes, it searches for music files on your hard drive and lists them in its library. Then, when you hook up your iPod to your computer for the first time, iTunes will open automatically, and the Setup Assistant will appear. To make things super-simple, set iTunes to automatic syncing. That will copy all the songs from your computer to the iPod, and then look for new ones every time you plug it in again. Unless you've got a music collection the size of the Library of Congress, this should work fine for most people. But you also can choose the option "selected playlists, artists and genres," and then drag and drop only certain songs from your computer into your iPod [source: iPod Classic User Guide].
Besides using your iPod as a music player, you can also use it to transfer songs from an old computer to a new one. The one hitch is that if you didn't buy them from the iTunes store, you have to configure your iPod so that it functions as an external drive [source: Apple Support]. But if you're going to do that, you may not want to use iTunes at all.

Naturally, Apple probably would prefer that you install iTunes software on your computer and use it to both organize the music on your computer's hard drive and transfer it to your iPod. That not only is the most straightforward method, but it also makes it as easy as possible to buy lots of music from the iTunes store. Maybe that sticks in your craw because you're a die-hard PC loyalist who resents all those snarky Apple commercials that stereotype you as a clueless techno-dweeb. Or maybe you don't really like the iTunes interface because it moves too slowly on your older PC. Or maybe the iTunes indexer crashes whenever it encounters that old mp3 of Captain Beefheart performing "Ice Cream for Crow" that you got from some peer-to-peer music pirate eons ago.
Not to worry. It's perfectly possible load music onto your iPod without using iTunes. According to Lifehacker's Adam Pash, the first step (and you do need a computer with iTunes on it for this) is to plug in your iPod, boot up iTunes, go to Edit: Preferences, and select the iPod tab. Next, select the Music tab and click OK on "Manually manage songs and playlists." This will set up your iPod as a removable hard drive, and keep it from automatically syncing with iTunes [source: Pash].
Next, you need another program on your PC to manage your music files. There are numerous choices out there -- such as MediaMonkey, SharePod, Winamp, Floola and Songbird, among others [source: Bell]. If you pick MediaMonkey, for example, you simply download and install it, let the program sort your music into genres, plug in your iPod, and then drag-and-drop whichever songs you want to load [].
Pash also suggests another free progam, Pod Player, that will play songs off your iPod while it's connected to your PC, and extract songs and upload them to your computer's hard drive [source: Pash].

·         Bell, Donald. "Best iPod-compatible iTunes alternatives." CNet. Nov. 20, 2008. (April 13, 2010)
·         "How to use MediaMonkey to manage your iPod." Undated. (April 13, 2010)
·         "How to use your iPod to move your music to a new computer." Nov. 20, 2009. (April 13, 2010)
·         "iPod Classic User Guide." Undated. (April 13, 2010)
·         "iPod without iTunes." Geektonic. January 2009. (April 13, 2010)
·         Pash, Adam. "Hack Attack: The self-sustaining iPod." LifeHacker. Undated. (April 13, 2010)
·         Rojas, Peter. "Interview with John Hodgman, the PC from those 'Get a Mac' ads." Endgadget. Oct. 5, 2006. (April 13, 2010)
·         Schlender, Brent. "Apple's 21st-Century Walkman CEO Steve Jobs thinks he has something pretty nifty. And if he's right, he might even spook Sony and Matsushita." Fortune. Nov. 12, 2001. (April 13, 2010)
·         Van Buskirk, Eliot. "Introducing the world's first MP3 player." Jan. 21, 2005. (April 13, 2010)


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