Last week I was listening to a playlist on my 4G iPod when I noticed it skipped a song. To investigate, I plugged it into my Mac and tried playing the same one through iTunes, but instead a little exclamation point popped up next to it in the list, indicating that the file was damaged or missing. Further investigation showed that 28 of 399 songs had the same problem, and Disk Utility didn't think anything was suspect.
The immediate thought I had was to try playing every file in my iPod, but this is time consuming (even if you only play one second of each, it adds up), and there doesn't seem to be a way to group the !s through sorting.
The best solution I found is to select all of the iPod's songs and use the Get Info window to set the rating on every file to 1 (be careful that you don't edit anything else). When it's finished, sort the list by My Rating to group the corrupt tracks together (in my case, they all had 0 stars).
(This will, of course, remove all useful ratings from your iPod. If you find them valuable, you can do the same trick with any field, like Comments or BPM. This is also an option if the corrupt song files have ratings, too.)
Finally, select all of the corrupt songs, copy, then delete. The corrupt songs will be deleted from your iPod while their track names will be saved to the clipboard. You can paste this into TextEdit so you know which files need to be re-copied. Unfortunately, you'll be on your own in remembering which playlists they belonged to.
If you're running out of space on your iPod and have an iPod that can display album art, here's a quick tip that can buy you back some room. Instead of using the album art that is embedded in the audio file, the iPod is actually using its own database file to store album art. Depending on the size of your iPod and the total amount of songs you have on it, this Database can grow quite large.
To reclaim that space, simply go into the iPod preferences in iTunes and uncheck the 'Display Album Art' option. When I did this on my 60GB iPod 5G that had about 20MB free, I was able to reclaim over 1.5GB (yes, that's GB).
I have tested and verified this with a 60GB iPod 5G and a 4GB iPod nano that were formatted for a Mac. However, this should work with all iPods that can display album art and regardless of Mac or PC format.
[robg adds: From an older hint and its associated comments, you might also see some space savings by unchecking the Artwork tag in the Get Info box -- apparently the MP3 tags also contain information on the artwork, even though the iPod is using a database to track it. Given the age of the hint, I'm not sure if it's still relevant or not; please comment if you have more info on the subject.]
iPod batteries die -- we all know that. Generally about two to three years after you start using them (depending on the intensity of your use), the battery will no longer hold a charge for long, if at all. Batteries can be replaced, of course, but it's not necessarily a simple procedure, and it might not be worth it on an older, smaller-capacity iPod.
I've written an article explaining some ways to use the iPod after the battery dies, assuming you don't want to try to replace the battery. To sum up, you can use it to provide music as long as it gets power (from a car, or from an AC adapter); you can use it as a source for iTunes on any computer; or you can use it as a hard disk for backups, providing you with a pocket-sized backup drive that you can shuttle between home and office. More details are available in the article.
This is a rather simple, slap yourself in the forehead type hint, but I thought it is worth a quick reminder for those of you out there who have a mixed iTunes library of music and videos, as well as multiple iPods.
My iTunes library is around 45GB, which is perfect to completely load my 60GB iPod video (white!), but I also run around with a 6GB iPod mini for the fun of it. For the past few days, I have been killing myself trying to figure out why my "Unrated" smart playlist, set to a max size of 4GB, would not transfer all 4GB over to my mini.
Then it hit me. The playlist had videos in it, which iTunes (intelligently) wouldn't transfer over to the video-less mini. A quick edit of my Unrated smart playlist to add the rule: Kind / does not contain / video, and poof! All 4GB happily Firewired over to my mini.
So, remember kids, if you have videos in your library (like the full iTunes collection of the Colbert Report...), remember to modify all your smart playlists to avoid video files and keep your iPods happy.