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One solution to finding missing free space on an iPod iPod
Over the weekend, I plugged in my old-style 80GB iPod for the first time in, well, a long time -- so long that the battery needed to be charged a bit before it would even sync. Once the sync started, things seemed to go well, but near the end of the photos section, iTunes displayed a message telling me there wasn't enough room to copy all my photos.

This was a bit odd, because best as I could recall, my iPod had about 20GB of free space the last time I synched. And while it had been a while, there's no way I took enough photos to fill 20GB -- especially at the iPod's resolution (I don't sync full-sized copies).

I noticed that the Other (orange) section of the Capacity gauge in iTunes was huge -- basically all the remaining space was used up by Other. Switching to the Finder, I quickly scanned through the iPod's various folders (it was set to enable disk use) with the Inspector open (Command-Option-I), and they all looked normal in size ... until I got to Photos » Thumbs. This one was over 20GB! Given my entire iPhoto library (at native resolution) is all of 45GB, I figured there was something wrong.

The fix? I first disabled photo sync in iTunes, then trashed the contents of the Thumbs folder in the Finder, and emptied the trash. Once that was done, I re-enabled photo syncing, and let the iPod sync all the photos back. When it was done, I once again had all my photos on the iPod and 20GB+ of free space on the device, and the Other section showed only 1.7GB used.

I have no idea what happened to the Thumbs folder, but if you find yourself with a similarly-overflowing iPod for no apparent reason, it's possible this folder is the culprit on your device as well.
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Create always-editable playlists on the iPhone/iPod iPod
If you're like me, you like the fact that the iPod and iPhone gives you an On-the-Go playlist that you can edit while you're on the go. There's only one flaw in this setup: Once you sync your iPod/iPhone to the computer, the On-The-Go playlist freezes into place, and turns into a normal playlist. Normal playlists aren't editable on the iPod/iPhone. Sure, you could just select all the songs from the previous playlist if you're on an iPhone, and roll them into your new one. But that, too, will freeze once synced with the computer.

Fortunately, there is a way to keep the ability to edit playlists intact, and it makes use of the (if you haven't deleted iTunes' stock playlists) My Top Rated playlist. (Note: If you use iTunes' rating system for anything other than this purpose, this probably won't work. Just so you know.) The My Top Rated playlist is a Smart Playlist, which automatically adds songs that meet its criteria. It also dynamically updates -- if you rate a song as 0 stars, it'll be removed from the playlist. This dynamic updating happens both on the computer and on the iPod.

My Top Rated will add any song that is rated above three stars. So if you go to the song's rating on your iPod and rate it five stars, it'll be added to this playlist on the iPod -- without any assistance from the computer. If you're content with just one editable playlist, then you can just use the stock My Top Rated playlist. You may rename it if you so wish. But if you want to make multiple editable playlists, you need to edit the rules to the stock Top Rated playlist (or just delete it and follow along).

Go to File » New Smart Playlist. In the window that appears, set the playlist to: Rating » Is » x Stars (where x is the number of stars you specify, 1 through 5). Leave Live Updating checked.

Now, whenever you give a song the same rating you defined in making the smart playlist, it'll automatically add itself to that playlist. And as long as you can edit ratings on the iPod and iPhone, this will mean you can always edit these playlists on any of Apple's iDevices.

There is one relatively big drawback: If you have multiple playlists, a song can only be on one of these playlists. It can't be in two at the same time, as it can be with regular playlists.
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Change an iTunes movie rating iPod
In iTunes, you can change many of the tags associated with a movie. But you can't change its rating (G, PG, etc.)--at least not with iTunes itself. But you can do it with a simple little app called MetaX.

After downloading and installing the app, right-click on the movie you want to re-rate in iTunes and select Show in Finder from the context menu. In the Finder, right-click on the movie file, select Open With, and choose from the list.

In MetaX, you will see a drop-down menu for Rating. Change it to whatever you want, then click on the Write button on the toolbar. (Note that, depending on the size of the movie file, you may have to select its Preferences -> General -> Enable Support for Large Files first.)

MetaX will proceed to rewrite the rating tag (and any other metadata you changed); this may take a while. When you go back to iTunes, the movie's rating should be updated.
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A script to keep playlists synced with iPhones/iPods iPod
I am always adding to and editing iTunes playlists, particularly the more oft-listened ones like my punk, ambient, and programs & podcasts playlists. Since I listen to a lot of stuff on my iPhone, I naturally want these playlists always available and up-to-date on my device. I can't tell you how many times I plugged in my iPhone to my car stereo and found, to my disappointment, that I forgot to drag-and-drop the most recent version of a playlist to the device.

Why not just set the iPhone to automatically update? Because I want the finite control that manually managing affords me. My experience with auto-updating: unintended results, creates more problems than it solves.

So I created a script that updates a specified list of playlists to all attached iPods/iPhones. It can run on a schedule (with cron), so I never have to worry that my iPhone won't have the most recent versions of my playlists!

  • Adds specified playlists to all iPods attached to your Mac.
  • Will skip the playlist if there's not enough space on an attached device.
  • Retains the order in which the tracks appear on the library playlist.
  • Outputs useful debug info.
You can find the latest version of the script (in case of any changes) in this entry on my site.
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Change volume on iPod touch in landscape mode iPod
At work I plug in my iPod into my speakers and let it shuffle. Since the iPod touch now has the line out at the bottom, I can no longer position my iPod in portrait mode, since the cable to my speakers gets in the way. Therefore I position it in landscape mode, which brings up the Coverf Flow view. Nice, if only it would always refresh to the album art for the "now playing song" and, more importantly to me, if it would offer a volume slider. Both features are missing in landscape mode.

Here are two workarounds; first the simple solution:
  • Shuffle songs
  • Click the Home button to return to the main iPod touch screen
  • Double-click home button to display the 'music widget' with volume slider.
The widget will still be in portrait mode, though I can live with that. The second solution is a bit more complex, but works in landscape mode:
  • Shuffle songs
  • Open a photo
  • Landscape your iPod
  • Double-click the Home button to display the 'music widget' with volume slider.
The widget will now be in landscape mode. This is one of those hints where I hope someone will say, "you fool, there is a much better way!"

[robg adds: This works on the iPhone, too, as you would expect.]
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Fix non-displaying album art on iPods iPod
A while back, I purchased a 30 Gig iPod. I naturally put all my music and some videos on the iPod, but it wasn't until recently that I wanted to add some artwork to view while my songs were playing. I went to the web and got some photos of my artists and began adding the artwork to my playlists.

After checking the necessary options to display album art on the iPod, I found that nothing was displaying. I then found that by unselecting then reselecting the Show Artwork on iPod option, the album art copied correctly then next time I synced it.

[robg adds: This is actually a common method of resolving many album art problems with the iPod; if some albums don't display art, or if some display the incorrect art, doing the above usually fixes it. It will take a few minutes for iTunes to rebuild the album art database, but you should have all your art after that.]

Update: it seems that some people are having problems with this. I've posted a comment below being more precise than the hint, but another thing that helps some people is restoring the iPod from the main iPod screen in iTunes. Album art is stored in a special database on the iPod, not in the actual files, in spite of what you may read elsewhere (it's stored in the files, or in an Album artwork folder on your Mac, but iTunes creates a database when it "Optimizes album artwork").
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Work with iPod notes without iPod connected iPod
Do you use your iPod for notes? Do you want to be able to manage your notes while your iPod isn't plugged in? Well, here's how you can manage your notes on your computer and have them appear on your iPod. What you'll need:
  • An iPod with disk use enabled.
  • A couple of AppleScripts.
Step 1: Copy the notes folder on your iPod to your home folder. So, you should have a folder at "~/Notes/". This folder should be a duplicate of the notes folder on your iPod.

Step 2: Save the following as an AppleScript:
property myipodname : "My iPod"
property shellscriptname : ""

on adding folder items to theFolder after receiving theItems
if shellscriptname is equal to "" then
if myipodname contains " " then
set shellscriptname to myipodname
set current_name to shellscriptname
set search_string to " "
set replacement_string to "\ "
set AppleScript's text item delimiters to the search_string
set the text_item_list to every text item of the current_name
set AppleScript's text item delimiters to the replacement_string
set the shellscriptname to the text_item_list as string
set AppleScript's text item delimiters to ""
end if
if myipodname contains "'" then
set shellscriptname to myipodname
set current_name to shellscriptname
set search_string to "'"
set replacement_string to "\'"
set AppleScript's text item delimiters to the search_string
set the text_item_list to every text item of the current_name
set AppleScript's text item delimiters to the replacement_string
set the shellscriptname to the text_item_list as string
set AppleScript's text item delimiters to ""
end if
end if
repeat with i in theItems
tell application "Finder"
set thename to name of i
end tell
if thename is equal to myipodname then
do shell script ("rm -r -f /Volumes/" & shellscriptname & "/Notes/")
do shell script ("cp -R -f ~/Notes/ /Volumes/" & shellscriptname & "/Notes/")
end if
end repeat
end adding folder items to
Edit the myipodname property to reflect the name of your iPod -- it has to be exact. If your iPod's name is My iPoD then you cannot enter my ipod. We'll call this script Sync Notes.scpt; save it to /Library » Scripts » Folder Action Scripts.
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How to use a new iPod with an old Mac iPod
The newest generation of iPods requires iTunes 8 or higher. iTunes 8 requires Windows XP service pack 2 or higher, or MacOSX 10.4.9 or higher. So what do you do if you have an older Mac which can not run, or otherwise is not running OS X 10.4.9 or later? Or perhaps you just don't want to upgrade your entire OS just to use a new iPod. Here is one possible solution...

Since Apple writes software that supports very old Windows operating systems from six or more years ago, but does not support its own Mac OS systems from just three or so years ago, the answer is to run Virtual PC on your older Mac, and run Windows XP service pack 2 or higher on it. There, thanks to Windows, you can install iTunes 8 with no problems. You'll have to transfer your library over to the windows side, and you'll have to launch Virtual PC every time you want to update your iPod -- but at least you can use a new generation iPod on an older Mac.

Sad, but it works.
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Change audio book playback speed on new nano/Classic iPod
When listening to an audio book on the new nano (and, I assume, the new Classic), if you press and hold the center button, you get access to a "contextual" menu of sorts where you can change the audio playback speed -- you can choose between Slower, Normal, Faster, and Cancel.

On older iPods, you had to go to the Settings menu to change the playback speed.
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Print PDFs directly to iPod touch (and iPhone) iPod
I frequently want to print copies of maps, directions or other things to take with me on the road. Since I found the app Air Sharing for my iPod touch, I can save the docs to PDF, and then copy them to my iPod touch for offline viewing. I put together an Automator workflow [65KB download] that allows me to do this directly from the print dialog box.

To configure the workflow, put the (unzipped) downloaded file into the /Library/PDF Services folder. Open the workflow in Automator, and then set the IP address of your iPod touch or iPhone in the first line of the AppleScript action, and set the save to location in the last action to the desired location on your iPod touch/iPhone. (Note that you need to have the iPhone/iPod touch mounted via Air Sharing to use this workflow.) Finally, save the workflow with whatever name you want to appear in the PDF print button menu.

Now all you have to do to get an item onto your iPod/iPhone is to select Print to iPod (or whatever you called the workflow) from the PDF drop-down button in the Print dialog box.
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