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Wow, iTunes + iPod = timesink…

Given that the user interface is so elegant, it’s amazing how frustrating and counter-intuitive it can be to synch iTunes and an iPod Touch.

I first synched my iPod to the “family” machine in the kitchen, which we decided would be the digital home for our CD collection. But for my birthday last December, I got a new Macbook Pro – and, not being the most avid iPod user (and not having an iPhone, either), I never bothered to put my music library on my new computer.

But today was the day. iTunes, however, has nothing better to do than state the obvious (namely, that the iPod is already in bondage to another computer), followed by the not-so-obvious: We’re not gonna let you transfer your music to this (newer) computer, neener, neener…! (Yeah, sure, Apple… as if.)

So, 10 minutes and a work-around later, the music is, however, transferred.

But then it gets interesting…

First, my old photo library was erased (it consisted of a bunch of scanned pages of my magazine articles – no big deal, I have them elsewhere, but still…), and instead I have my new iPhoto library on the iPod. Ok, fine. Would have been nice if differentiation were easy to manage (“I choose these pictures to delete, these to keep, and these new ones to add”), but it seems to be all or nothing. Maybe I’m missing something.

Next: since my iPod has a lot of storage, I wanted to add a couple of videos – instructional yoga videos by Kathryn Budig. I would really like to be able to do a handstand again someday – headstands are dead-easy, but handstands scare me: Budig’s instruction, however, makes it look possible. So, after rooting around on the Yoga Journal site for the longest time, I finally found the appropriate podcast page, but in iTunes, silly me was not immediately able to differentiate between the video and audio versions of Budig’s podcasts – it’s all under podcast. Except for one, which magically appeared in movies (I have no idea why – must have been an iTunes magic touch).


After spending quite a bit of time (ok, hours!) synching up my music and other stuff (no idea why it took so long, but it did), I saw that 1) I had audio-casts but not video-casts of a couple of items; and 2) the movie item hadn’t transferred.

So, I spent another good whack of time downloading the appropriate video format, and then – foolish me – I went into iTunes and said, Hey, go ahead, synch the movies! …even though I did get a warning panel that said, If you do, we’ll nuke all your media.

But I said yes, and sure enough, after another hour of synching I finally had the videos I wanted – but all my other media was GONE. Music? Not a peep remained. Nada.


Ok, back into iTunes, and after clicking around a bit I figured out how to manually synch all my music back on to the iPod, which had been so cruelly erased. Tick, tick, tick, another huge chunk of time (well, relatively speaking) for several thousand items to repopulate the iPod.

Now I wonder if I’ll ever be able to add another movie without once again wiping my music library off my iPod and having to re-synch the whole thing again.

Ok, other than that, it’s pretty swell, this portable media stuff. Amazing, really. But a lot harder to figure out than it should be.


  1. Amen (except that it’s not only Apple that does this)

    Comment by melanieb — July 8, 2010 #

  2. I’ve tried to get myiTunes libraries synched on one iPod, and have encountered similar frustrations. Of course, I thought it was just me, not smart enough, not with it enough, not appreciative enough of Apple’s magic. In the end, I think I gave up on having any of my music organized according to the way I want to have it. which means that I rarely use my iPod, which means that I am not likely to buy a new one, or go for any other Apple gadget that is not just a computer.

    Comment by maria — July 8, 2010 #

  3. I agree, there is nothing harder than trying to think like iTunes does … but there are apps that let you live without iTunes, and handling synching is even easier on a jailbroke iPod.

    Comment by Zo — July 10, 2010 #

  4. There are indeed some tricky questions when you sync your iPod with iTunes. But once you get used to it, it’s pretty ok. And I love my iPod. 🙂

    Comment by Emily — July 13, 2010 #

  5. There are many, many, many ways to think about digital assets, and iTunes represents just one or two of them.

    Anyone remember Microsoft’s PlaysForSure™?

    Paragraph 3 .. I feel so badly for their customers:

    Comment by Davin Greenwell — July 15, 2010 #

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