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iPod & iTunes: The Missing Manual, Fourth Edition by J.D. Biersdorfer

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Chapter 1. Meet the iPod

Even before you extract it from its box, the iPod makes a design statement. Its shrink-wrapped cardboard square opens like a book, revealing elegantly packaged accessories and software nestled around the iPod itself.

The first part of this book will familiarize you with the hardware portion of this parcel. This particular chapter takes a look at what’s inside the box for a full-size iPod or iPod Nano. If you’ve got your eye on an iPod Shuffle or have just popped one out of its bright green box and want to know what to do next, skip on over to Chapter 3 for a detailed discussion of Apple’s flashy little music stick.

Parts of the Pod

In addition to the nicely nestled iPod itself, the package’s compartments hold all the other stuff that comes with various iPod models these days: earbud-style headphones and their foam covers, the connection cable for your computer, and a software CD. You also get a pocket protector-style slipcover and chunk of white plastic called the iPod Dock Adapter, which works as a booster seat for your iPod to fit into many of the dock-based accessories out there.

What you get by way of instructions in the standard Apple box is a small square envelope that includes a Quick Start pamphlet and a couple of Apple-logo stickers. Newer iPods include some electronic documentation and short tutorials in Web page-and PDF-format (located on the iPod CD), but you have to print it out if you want to read it anywhere besides your computer screen. Good thing you have this book in your hands to fill in the gaps—and it’s always ready to flip through without having to boot up your PC.

A few other bits of paper are included in the iPod’s info packet. You’ll probably blow right past the warranty information (basically, you’re covered for one year) and the software agreement (the usual legalese that makes most people’s eyes glaze over like fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts). The software agreement includes a small section about making digital copies of music, whose sentiment is echoed right on the iPod’s cellophane wrapping: Don’t steal music.

The Screen

The LCD screen is your window into the iPod’s world. You can use it to navigate the menus, see how much of a charge the battery has left, and view the name of the current playlist or song. The display on the video-enabled iPods, whose resolution is 320 x 240 pixels (176 x 132 for the Nano), also comes with a white LED backlight, so you can use your iPod in movies, concerts, and as a flashlight to find your front door lock at night.

Note

The iPods of yore, the ones with monochrome displays, have screen resolutions of 160 x 128 pixels for full-size models and 138 x 110 pixels for the iPod Mini.

The Click Wheel

The concentric ring on the iPod’s face is the clickable scroll wheel, which you use to navigate up or down lists of menu options on the screen. It lets you jump to a specific playlist, album, artist, song, or even a certain part of a song. As shown in Figure 1-1, the presence of this circular navigational tool has been a consistent feature on all iPods (except for the Shuffle) since Apple first launched the product in 2001.

When a song is playing, you can also use the wheel to adjust the iPod’s volume: Spin the wheel counterclockwise to turn the volume down, or clockwise to increase the sound.

Of course, “spin” may not be quite the right word. The wheel on the 2001 iPods actually turned. But on the 2002-and-later iPods, including the iPod Mini, the turning wheel gave way to a stationary touch wheel and then the current click wheel, which you operate by dragging your finger around the ring. You’ve got one less moving part to go bad.

Top row, from left: The very first iPod model from 2001, the third-generation (3G) 2003 iPod, the iPod Mini, the fourth-generation (4G) click wheel model sold by both Apple and Hewlett-Packard, the U2 Special Edition iPod, and the iPod Photo.Bottom row, from left: The video-playing fifth-generation (5G) iPod, first introduced in the fall of 2005, and its trusty sidekick, the iPod Nano. Each of these is available in either traditional white or hipster black.

Figure 1-1. Top row, from left: The very first iPod model from 2001, the third-generation (3G) 2003 iPod, the iPod Mini, the fourth-generation (4G) click wheel model sold by both Apple and Hewlett-Packard, the U2 Special Edition iPod, and the iPod Photo.Bottom row, from left: The video-playing fifth-generation (5G) iPod, first introduced in the fall of 2005, and its trusty sidekick, the iPod Nano. Each of these is available in either traditional white or hipster black.

Tip

Want to personalize your Pod forever? Say it with lasers—laser engraving, that is. You can immortalize the chrome backside of your iPod with a short, two-line message of your choosing when you order an iPod at http://store.apple.com.

Just don’t make a typo.

The Buttons

The first generations of iPods had raised, contoured control buttons—Menu, Play/Pause, and so on—hugging the outer edge of the wheel.

Beginning with the 2003 iPods, Apple made all the buttons nonmoving, touch-sensitive parts. This design offered two advantages: It kept sand and dirt from derailing the iPod’s parts, and it let a red–orange glow backlight the names of the buttons when it was dark out. Many iPodders complained, though, that the new layout made it more of a thumb reach to hit the Previous and Next buttons without bringing in a second hand.

Owners of the iPods made in 2004 and beyond don’t have to worry about that; their buttons are actual, clickable spots on the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions on the scroll wheel. (Apple also ditched the red–orange glow effect.) If you’re old enough to own an iPod, your thumb can probably reach them.

In any case, no matter which model you have, no matter where the control buttons have migrated, they all work the same way once you find them.

Starting from the center, here are the controls:

  • Select. The big round button in the center of any iPod is the Select button. Like clicking a mouse on a desktop computer, you press Select to choose a highlighted menu item. When a song title is highlighted, the Select button begins playback.

  • Menu. On early-model iPods, the Mini, and the current group of click wheel models, the Menu button is at 12 o’clock, up at the top of the circle. On third-generation iPods from 2003, Menu is the second button in the row of controls.

    Pressing the Menu button once takes you to the iPod’s main screen. The latest iPods give you six options: Music, Photos, Videos, Extras, Settings, and Shuffle Songs. The iPod Nano’s menu is the same, except there’s no Videos category. Older iPods in various states of software updates (Section 12.10) have variations on these menus, and the iPod Shuffle has no menu at all because it doesn’t even have a screen.

    The Menu button is also your ticket home: If you’ve burrowed deep into the iPod’s menu system, pressing the Menu button repeatedly takes you back one screen at a time until you’re back where you started.

    Note

    The Menu button also controls the white backlight for the iPod’s display screen. Hold it down for a few seconds to turn the backlight on or off.

  • You press the Next/Fast-forward button once to advance to the next song in the playlist. You can also hold it down to fast-forward through the current song to get to the good parts.

  • The Previous/Rewind button, of course, does the opposite: Press it once quickly to play the current song from the beginning; press it repeatedly to cycle back through the songs on the playlist. Hold it down to rewind through the current song, just like the Rewind button on your old tape deck.

    Tip

    Here’s another great way to navigate the song that’s now playing: Press the Select button and then use the scroll wheel to zoom to any part of the song you want; when the selection diamond reaches the spot you want, press Select again. This technique, called scrubbing, gives you more control and greater precision than the Previous and Next buttons.

  • The Play/Pause button, marked by a black Play triangle and the universal Pause symbol crafted from upright parallel lines, plays or stops the selected song, album, playlist, or library. It’s also the iPod’s Off switch if you press it for 3 seconds. (The iPod also turns itself off automatically after 2 minutes of inactivity.)

    Tip

    These buttons, used in combination, also let you reset a locked-up iPod. Details in Chapter 12.

Places for Plugs

Here are the various switches and connectors you’ll find on the top and bottom of your iPod:

  • Dock connector port. Starting in 2003, Apple made the iPod’s main data and power jack a flat 30-pin connector on the bottom of the device, shown in Figure 1-2. At the time, the company was including a small white charging dock inside the box with all new iPods, so this jack is often referred to as the dock connector port. You also used to get both FireWire and USB 2.0 cables in the iPod boxes of the past, but these days, new iPods can’t even use FireWire to transfer data and music. As of late 2005, the entire iPod line is USB 2.0-only, which means you only get the USB cable in the box.

    You’ll find much more detail on this syncing business in Chapter 2.

  • Headphone port. On the iPod’s top, you’ll find the jack where you plug in the earbud-style headphones that come with your iPod. If you have an iPod Nano, though, the headphone port is on the bottom of the player (Figure 1-2).

    Fortunately, this is a standard 3.5 mm stereo plug. In other words, you’re free to substitute any other Walkman-style headphones, or even to play the music on the iPod through your home sound system (see Chapter 10). Some older iPods also have a small oval notch next to the headphone port that accommodated a remote, which could be used to control the music without fumbling with the player’s main controls.

  • Hold switch. With all the control buttons on the front of the iPod, it’s easy to hit one accidentally while you’re putting it in or taking it out of your pocket or purse. To prevent such unintended button activity, slide the iPod’s Hold switch over to reveal a bright orange bar. You’ve just disabled all the buttons on the front of the unit, preventing accidental bumps. (A small lock icon appears on the iPod’s screen when the Hold button is on.) Slide the switch back to turn off the Hold function.

Tip

A common moment of iPod panic occurs when the device’s control buttons don’t seem to be working. Check the top to make sure the Hold switch isn’t on. If your iPod model includes a remote control, check the Hold button on the remote as well.

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