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How to Manage Multiple iPods on One Computer

Readers have been e-mailing me asking about managing multiple iPods on one computer, so I figured it was time I address the question with you all. For a time my boyfriend and I were managing both our iPods off his computer, simply because I was so excited the day I got it I didn't stop to consider I should do it on my own computer (yes, even geeks have such moments). While it worked, it became stressful and we both travel a great deal for work, so his computer wasn't always around when I needed it.

Geek Tip: iTunes can easily differentiate between multiple iPods and manage settings for all of them. When you use multiple iPods with one computer, assigning each an obvious name will help avoid confusion. If you need to change an iPod’s name, double-click on that name in the "Source" menu and enter a new one. For help setting this up,

  • By default, iTunes is set to automatically update all songs and playlists. If you want to better control this option, or if you’re connecting an iPod that’s synced with one computer to another system and don’t want to overwrite all the music on it, you should switch to the manual mode.
  • Connect the iPod, click on the No button if iTunes asks whether you want to link that iPod to the new library (you’ll be asked only if the iPod has been previously linked to another computer), click on the iPod icon near the bottom right-hand corner of the iTunes window, and select Manually Manage Songs And Playlists in the resulting window.
  • If you're using a Mac you can set up multiple OS X user accounts, each with its own iTunes library and settings. A downside of this approach is that, by default, iTunes stores its music in each user’s Home folder, which means that duplicate copies of shared songs will be maintained for each person.
  • Need more iPod help? Check out my guides:
    Syncing Your iPod Music on a PC and a Mac
    How to Sync Your iPod to Two Computers


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BradMullet BradMullet 9 years
We've been using multiple iPods off one computer for ages, because we keep all our music on one machine, but it can be frustrating when the other person is logged on to it and you need to change your music! Ah well!
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