I have to say this up front – Songbird is still in “Developer Preview”, which according to the developers means it’s “an incremental release to our proof-of-concept”. I think that’s their way of saying the software is somewhere between Alpha and Beta, which is to say it’s not at all a ‘finished’ product. While using Songbird to sync my iPod I came across all sorts of problems, so I can’t warn you strongly enough to proceed at your own risk. There’s a very good chance that all of your songs will get wiped from your iPod, so if that’s not something you’re willing to risk, don’t proceed.
This tutorial will take you though the steps to use Songbird to sync the music on your computer to your iPod.
Something else I should mention before you get started – I can’t say for sure that this is the only way to get Songbird to work with your iPod, it’s the way I got it to work. Certain factors may allow you to skip some steps (for example – if you don’t have iTunes installed, all of the steps that involve iTunes can be ignored). In fact, I suspect that Songbird works ideally in an environment where iTunes isn’t even installed. Update: The author of the iPod for Songbird plugin, Erik Staats, dropped by (see comments below) and confirmed that “things will go smoother if iTunes is not installed”. Erik also brings up an important point – you may only authorize your iPod to play iTunes DRM’ed tracks from iTunes – Songbird can transfer them to your iPod, but they won’t play unless iTunes has authorized them. Thanks Erik!
- If you have iTunes installed, plug in your iPod and open iTunes – if it doesn’t auto-launch. Select your iPod and then choose the Settings tab. Remove the check from the box labeled Open iTunes when this iPod is attached and place a check in the box labeled Enable disk use (per the iPod plugin for Songbird page). Move the slider all the way over so that the maximum amount of “Data” is available. This will erase all of the songs currently on your iPod. Click Apply.
- Exit out of iTunes, and install Songbird. During the installation make sure to leave Songbird iPod Device Support checked. If you’ve already installed Songbird, but didn’t install the iPod plugin, you can download and install it from here.
- When Songbird launches, if you’ve previously used your iPod with iTunes, it will ask you if you want to change the library over to Songbird. Click Yes.
- Open the Songbird preferences and select the iPod tab. Decide how you want Songbird to update your iPod (update all songs and playlists, only certain playlists, or manually).
- Drag some songs from your library to your iPod (listed in the left column of Songbird). You should see a small status indicator displaying the uploads in progress (bottom left corner of Songbird).
- Select your iPod and confirm that the tracks were successfully uploaded.
- If you have iTunes, the next time you open it and your iPod is connected, it will probably ask if you want to erase the new library and sync with iTunes. Click Cancel if you want to continue using Songbird as your iPod manager.