The care and feeding of iPods

Between September 2005 and July 2011 I was a regular contributor to MacFormat in the UK.

Whereas I’m posting the published articles for my MacWarehouse writing, with the MacFormat ones I’ve decided to post the text as submitted, including any comments that I included for design. I am, however, allowing myself a few small edits for clarity.

The particular one is my twelfth column, written in August 2006. This is presented purely as a historical record as much, if not all, of the information contained in it may well have changed in the meantime.

Unlike most of my old postings, which generally still have some relevance today, this article shows just how much things have changed in the past 11 years. Once a major consumer electronics product, the classic iPods that this article was about went extinct in  September 2014.

The care and feeding of iPods

I get a lot of people asking me about problems with iPods. Most people see them as being a simple consumer electronics device, just like your personal tape player or CD player was, but an iPod is an awful lot more than that. Just like a PC, or shudder to say it your Mac, things can ad will go wrong with you iPod that aren’t caused by problems with the hardware that will mean a repair.

Resetting your iPod

The first thing to try if you are having problems with your iPod is to reset it, don’t worry it won’t cause you to loose any songs but you may have to change some settings from their default. This can be very useful if the Pod is frozen in some way but I also use it to fix a problem that occasionally happens with my iPod whereby it suddenly thinks that there is nothing on it, scary the first time that one happens. There are different ways to reset your iPod depending on which model you have. Make sure that the locking switch is off by moving it back and forth a couple of times and ensuring that the orange part is hidden. If you have an iPod that uses a click wheel press and hold down both the Menu and centre buttons together. You may have to hold the buttons down for a good few seconds before the iPod reboots, you can let go of them once the Apple logo appears on screen. For earlier iPod hold down the Menu and Play/Pause buttons instead. If it won’t reset try again with the iPod connected to a charger.

Restoring your iPod

If you can’t reset your Pod the next step is to restore the OS on it, this will wipe all of your music plus everything else that you have on your iPod, effectively making it like it was when you first took it out of the box. Before you start make sure that you have your power supply handy unless you connect your iPod via a 6 pin FireWire cable. Connect your iPod to your Mac and then launch the latest iPod updater. If you have already downloaded it you will find it in /Applications/Utilities/iPod Software Updater and at the time of writing the latest version was dated 28th June 2006. If you don’t have the latest version of the updater you can download it from  (2017 note: this now takes you to the download page for iTunes as it has superseded the iPad Software Updater for update purposes). Once you launch the updater you will have two choices, Update and Restore. If Update is not dimmed try updating the software on your iPod first but if you already have the latest version of iPod software installed our only choice will be to restore it. If your iPod connects to your Mac via a 6 pin FireWire cable that will be all you have to do but if you use a USB cable or a 4 pin FireWire one you will need to plug the iPod into a power adapter for the restore to finish.

Maximising battery life

More recent iPods have batteries that last a lot longer than older ones, and you can buy replacement batteries that you can fit yourself but there are a few things that you can do to help make your batteries last longer. When you have finished listening to your iPod don’t just wait for it to switch itself off after a few minutes but switch it off yourself. But wait; there isn’t a power switch. There is, but it is just hidden. Press and hold down the Play button for a few seconds and the iPod will power off. Once you have switched off your iPod slide the hold switch across to prevent it accidentally being switched back on if you knock it whilst it is in its case or your pocket. Turn your backlight timer down as far as you can. This controls how long the backlight stays on after you last touched a control. From the main iPod menu chose Settings > Backlight Timer and then set the length of time that you want the backlight to stay on for. If you use the Equaliser in iTunes to add more bass treble to songs set your iPod’s EQ to Flat, if you haven’t used iTune’s Equaliser then set your iPod’s EQ to off. The iPod EQ is in Settings > EQ. Make sure that your iPod goes through one complete charge cycle at lest once a month. Due to the way that the Lithium batteries in the iPod work this doesn’t mean that you have to let your iPod go completely flat once a month, although that will work, all you have to do is to make sure that you run it on battery power for at least the amount of time that it would take for it to go flat, and this doesn’t have to be all in one go so it shouldn’t be too difficult to do unless you end to only use your iPod when it is in it’s dock or when it is connected to a car charger or similar. If you do mainly use your iPod when it is connected to a power source of some kind then it is a god idea to ensure that you run it flat once a month.

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