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Saturday, September 20, 2008

How to Play iPod Through PC Laptop iTunes without Copying Music Files

My assumption was that it was a pretty common problem. For those of us with two or more personal computers, there is a need to play the music your Apple iPod through every device. However, doing so is not the most intuitive process. In fact, until just a couple of days ago -- I did not know how I could play my iPod through my notebook pc computer.

The reason why is that I store all of my music on my primary home desktop computer running Microsoft Vista. I consistently dock and sync my iPod Photo (now iPod classic 120GB!) to take with me to work, the gym, and other places. But, I do not have a stereo or other type of docking station to dock the iPod at when I am at work. I went ahead and installed iTunes on my work's laptop computer, but every time I connected -- the default settings would not let me access my music -- every time I plugged it in, it would try to sync with my laptop's iTunes library which was empty. That would result in an iPod with no music on it. I had settled for simply using the iPod / iTunes driver for charging my iPod.

Was there a possible solution? Some people may suggest simply copying all the music over -- which would take too much space. Or alternatively using the disk access mode to play the unrecognizable files or possibly using a 3rd party program. While they may be viable options for you, there is a much better way -- using iTunes that you can play your iPod on any other PC other than the primary one where you store you music.

Here is how you do it:

1. Click on your iPod under devices and make sure that every option is unchecked.
Play iPod through your PC: Click on your iPod under devices and make sure that every option is unchecked.

2. Now check the Manually manage music checkbox which will automatically check the Enable disk use check box and click Apply.
Play iPod through your PC: Now check the Manually manage music checkbox which will automicatically check the Enable disk use check box and click Apply.

3. Your iPod should be ready to play through your PC. Expand the down arrow on your iPod device, click on Music, Videos, Pictures, or Podcasts and you can now access and play the tunes or playlists that are stored on your iPod.
Play iPod through PC: Your iPod should be ready to play through your PC. Expand the down arrow on your iPod device, click on Music, Videos, Pictures, or Podcasts and you can now access and play the tunes or playlists that are stored on your iPod.

Congratulations -- you are done -- and you can use your iPod now on multiple machines / devices without having to use clunky 3rd party applications or copying your music files all over the place!

Did this work for you? If so, please let me know with a comment! This should work on your iPod Classic, iPod Nano, iPod Touch, iPhone Video, and iPhone devices on any operating system including Mac, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista.

29 comments:

Andy said...

Brilliant - Thank you it's much easier to control through iTunes

Cheers again
Andy

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately it did not work for me. I have a 3rd Gen. Ipod but when it is connected all I get is the circle with the "Do not Disconnect" on it. Any advice?
aajohnf@btinternet.com

Thanks

Anonymous said...

Works like a champion. Thanks for this. With a locked down work computer using third party software is pretty much disallowed. (Someone from IT allowed me to have iTunes) Now I can have my music and work too!!!

Thanks for the help!!

Soabirw said...

This is how I've been doing it as well, but the problem I have is now on the computer that I sync my main music stash on I lose all the nice auto-sync functionality. For example, I just did a massive update on all the album art. !,400 images updating over 6,000 mp3s. With no way to sync them I have to blow away the entire iPod and re-upload everything.

I've been looking for a way to let my main computer remain auto-sync, but still be able to have iTunes on other computers read from the iPod. So far, no luck.

Ken Hanscom said...

Soabirw -- this is how I am using my iPod today on different machines. My main machine is still the automatic sync and it does not blow away the iPod. By using the methodology above just on the secondary PCs, you should be home free!

-Ken

Ken Hanscom said...

For the Do Not Disconnect scenario -- it sounds like you may be missing a setting. On my 4th Gen iPod Photo, I had this occur a couple of times, but after I got the settings right -- it was smooth.

-Ken

Soabirw said...

Maybe they changed this, but the sync settings used to be stored on the iPod and not on the local iTunes. So if you were set to auto-sync on one machine, you were set to auto-sync on all. And visa-versa. I'll have to give it a try again. Would make me very happy for this to work.

Soabirw said...

Bleh. Just tried it and sure enough, if I check Manually manage music and videos on my Windows iTunes and then plug it back into my OS X iTunes the Manually is checked as well, and visa versa. Settings are stored on the iPod.

What iPod are you using? I'm using the iPod 5G (60GB)

spat said...

This method won’t work for me either. ITunes won’t even show my device. When I plug it in it asks if I want to sync or transfer purchases. I don’t want it erased and I don’t want to de-authorize the other computer. As soon as I hit cancel it disappears from my computer too. Upsetting

Anonymous said...

This works fine but has one flaw, you do have to manage your itunes manually. For example if i have the same mp3 on my ipod and computer and i change the details or add artwork on my pc, then copy this to my ipod i will have two copies one old one new. This is then a pain to keep wiping off old and adding new. It allows you to sync your updated podcasts. It would be great be able to sync as normal and use disk use too!

mc

Paul said...

I have been experiencing the same problem as Soabirw. I can not seem to listen to my (mac-synched) 3rd Gen iPod through my work PC without destroying the sync with my mac at home. I would really like to find a solution. Someone at the Apple Store told me to try authorizing my work computer thru the 'Store' > 'Authorize Computer...' menu in iTunes, but I did not have luck with that suggestion. Anyone else?

Paul said...

there is also a discussion forum for this topic at apple here: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=8410209#8410209

William H said...

worked great!

Bill H, Salem, VA

Ben May said...

Thanks so much! this is just what I was looking for!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this info...i love to hear about different ways to work around apple's security!

Another way this can be done is by downloading Media Monkey for free. The program was developed by open software programmers and i use it on my work computer so i don't have to put all my music on that hard drive. (I like it so much better then itunes i use it at home too;)

At any rate if you install on your computer then hook up your ipod you can access files from ipod and play right from there. Check itout sometime!:)

Alika said...

Thanks, I can't believe I couldn't find this simple info on the iTunes help tab. So far, it works for me!

Daniel said...

Muchas Gracias!

Anonymous said...

OMG you are my HERO!!!!! I am pretty damn computer savvy but nothing "Apple" makes logical sense to me. Good thing I know how to Google.

Anonymous said...

well I got to work after a long time but now my ipod is blinking
'do not disconnect" and I still have the files showing on Itunes under devices. Is that normal? but I can't change the setting switches and reverse the disk option unless I unplug my ipod and play it on its own.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely brilliant, I've been trying to find out how my friend who is at sea with a new laptop can play his ipod through the notebook. Now all he has to do is follow these intructions. So so simple, thank you so much. P

fallon said...

Thank You Very much for a fast a simple solution!

Anonymous said...

you're the man!! i was seriously disillusioned with my ipod and apple in general. all i wanted to do was listen to some music from my ipod on a different computer to my original itunes library.... and now i can! haha, thanks a lot man!

irfan

Lauren said...

I just spent most the morning trying to get everything from my iPod onto my work computer. You're process took 2 minutes and I'm all set!

Thanks! Should have googled it from the start!

Leo said...

Worked for me! Thanks!

Prima said...

simple as hell!

It's worked! merci beaucoup_ =)

Anonymous said...

You're awesome. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I´ve been losing my time trying to connect to my laptop with the output jack (Windows Vista headache) until I found your advise, it works excellent!... Thank you very much from Mexico City! Good day!

Rachel said...

THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

Works great for me, and to think I've been struggling with this for so long trying to find a solution with 3rd party apps, etc. And now it works even better then I expected!