How to use Songbird to manage your iPod

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!

  1. 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.
  2. using songbird to manage your ipod
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  3. 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.
  4. using songbird to manage your ipod
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  5. 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.
  6. using songbird to manage your ipod
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  7. 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).
  8. using songbird to manage your ipod
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  9. 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).
  10. using songbird to manage your ipod

  11. Select your iPod and confirm that the tracks were successfully uploaded.
  12. using songbird to manage your ipod
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  13. 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.
  14. using songbird to manage your ipod
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28 thoughts on “How to use Songbird to manage your iPod”

  1. Pingback: 10 Alternatives to iTunes for managing your iPod – Simple Help

  2. Pingback: Songbird mit iPod synchronisieren - PS3 Forum - PS3inside

  3. I downloaded songbird and for me to then have to search the net and come accross your instructions just gives me a bad feeling to start wiht .. not a very good start indeed where i have to go and look for information how to use the damn software.

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  7. Neil from Beachwood, Ohio

    I have looked at several alternatives to iTunes for managing my iPod. The best I have found is a combination of Media Monkey and Sharepod.

    MM is a full-service music library manager that has many of the features of iTunes without the disadvantages of that eccentric disk hog. It comes in two flavors–free and “gold”. The free version is not significantly crippled and should be good enough for most users.

    Sharepod is a small util that you install directly onto the iPod. It is good for quickly copying files to or from your PC, and making quick backups of all the tracks on your iPod.

  8. when it was loading I accidently clicked cancel when it was installing the ipod device support so now I dont know how to sync music on to my ipod

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  10. Pingback: Songbird Blog » on Songbird + iPod

  11. I’m using Songbird 0.4 for Ubuntu Fiesty Fawn and when I connected my iPod, Songbird didn’t recognize it. I had to manually scan for media in the File menu and was able to play music from my iPod.

    I have installed iPod Device Support for Songbird during installation itself. I think it may be a bug.

  12. How do you create a playlist and then actually import the playlist to IPOD?? All SongBird allow you to do is simply drag and drop from a “playlist”…but does not allow you to actually create a playlist on the “your ipod” display.


  13. Pingback: Songbird » Wie man Songbird zum Managen von iPod nutzt

  14. I could get around the erasing of the music by simply clicking no on the linking thing. That doesn’t prevent anything else from happening and it lets you keep your music. How do you create a playlist that ports to your ipod?

  15. In the iTunes screenshot, there’s a slider to set the percentage of space allowed to non-song. Using iTunes and a 4th generation iPod (20 GB black and white without photo capability), I don’t see this slider. I can only disable/enable disk use. Could this be problematic? I also don’t see a few of the other options such as convert bit rate, sound check, and maximum volume. Is the iPod attached to that computer a newer generation?

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  19. Pingback: 10 Alternatives to iTunes for managing your iPod - Simplehelp

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  21. Nice write up. I wrote the iPod extension for Songbird. Things will go smoother if iTunes is not installed. It does a few things automatically (like unmounting the iPod unless “disk mode” is enabled) that aren’t practical to prevent from Songbird.

    However, iTunes is required for some operations. As an example, you may only authorize your iPod to play iTunes DRM tracks from iTunes. Songbird can copy iTunes DRM tracks to the iPod, but they will only play on the iPod if it has been authorized by iTunes to do so. Fortunately, the authorization must only be done once for each iTunes account.

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