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How to Prevent iTunes from Syncing an iPod

written by: C.D. Crowder•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 12/29/2010

By default, iTunes automatically syncs your iPod when you connect it. If you don't want automatic syncing, change your settings to prevent iTunes from syncing an iPod until you're ready.

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    The Purpose of Syncing

    To make adding music a simple process, iTunes automatically syncs your iPod when you connect it. This includes music, videos and apps. Syncing prevents you from having to manually add individual videos, music or apps. In manually adding, you may miss something. Automatic syncing adds everything.

    However, if you are using a guest computer or only want to add certain items, you may want to prevent syncing when you connect. You can choose to prevent iTunes from syncing an iPod just on certain categories such as music or all categories. One main downside of automatic syncing is the fact that anything you add or delete from your computer will be added or deleted from your iPod.

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    Changing Settings

    iTunes Window Do not connect your iPod until you change your iTunes settings. If you have multiple devices, you can set individual device settings as you connect devices. If you do connect your iPod, you can stop the sync process by closing iTunes immediately.

    Open iTunes. Open the Edit menu. Select Preferences from the bottom of the menu. Check the Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically. Press OK to save your settings.

    If your iPod is new and you are connecting it for the first time, connect your iPod and follow the iTunes setup prompts. When the summary pane appears, ensure the Manually manage music and videos option is selected.

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    Connect Your iPod

    Connect your iPod using the USB cable provided with your iPod. Any available USB port on your PC will work. If you encounter any problems, ensure your iPod is connected to a port on your computer instead of a USB hub. At this point, you can choose your sync options. You can choose which devices on your system to sync, including which categories to sync. All of these options are chosen from the Preferences window under Edit. To automate part of the sync process, check the items you want to sync and turn on automatic syncing. Once synced, turn the feature back off.

    Manually sync items to your iPod by dragging them to your device under the Devices section. You can drag single items, albums, playlists or entire sections. If you want to drag multiple items at once, select them one by one while holding down the Command key on a Mac or the Ctrl key on a PC.

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    Things to Remember

    If you are using someone else's computer, turn off automatic syncing before you connect. Your iPod could be completely erased and replaced with content from the other computer. If you really want to use automatic syncing, keep the files you don't want in a separate library or folder from the iTunes library folders. You can choose which folders to pull from within iTunes. You can switch from manual to automatic and back again at any time.

    The best way to keep track of which songs and videos you've added is by manually adding the content to your iPod as soon as you add it to your library. You can also manage it by making a note of the last date you added content.