Inside iPod

Don’t destroy the elegantly designed box while opening it; you might want to place it prominently in your collection of Equipment That Ushered in the 21st Century. Before going any further, check the box and make sure that all the correct parts came with your iPod.

The iPod box includes a CD-ROM with the iTunes software for the Mac and PC and the FireWire and USB cables you can use to connect your iPod to a computer. All models come with a FireWire-compatible power adapter for connecting either the older iPod or the newer iPod-in-dock to an AC power source.

With most models, you also get a set of earbud headphones and a remote controller that connects to the iPod by wire. The accessories don’t stop there — you might also have a carrying case and some other goodies. Optional accessories are available at the online Apple Store. You also need a few things that don’t come with the iPod:

  • A PC or Mac: With a Mac, iTunes requires Mac OS X 10.1.5 or newer for connecting with FireWire (OS X 10.3.4 for connecting via USB), a 400 MHz G3 processor or better and at least 256MB of RAM. You also need QuickTime, which you can download from the Apple Web site for free (but most Macs already have it).

On a PC, iTunes requires Windows 2000 or XP, a 500 MHz Pentium-class processor or faster, and 256MB of RAM. You can alternatively use the iPod with MusicMatch Jukebox and a 300 MHz or faster PC with at least 96MB of RAM running Windows Me, 2000, or XP (with at least 128MB of RAM).

  • FireWire or USB connection on a PC: All Macs provide FireWire, so you’re all set. PCs running Windows must have FireWire also called IEEE 1394) or USB 2.0.
  • iTunes 4.6 or newer: You can download Mac or Windows versions for free from the Apple Web site. The CD-ROM that’s supplied with newer iPods should have both versions of iTunes as well, but some may have iTunes 4.5 — which is fine, because version 4.5 works (it just doesn’t have all the features of 4.6), and you can download the 4.6 version at any time to replace it. CD-ROMs supplied with some older iPod models provided MusicMatch Jukebox instead. You can use MusicMatch Jukebox if you don’t meet the requirements to run iTunes.
  • Optional: Mac users can install iSync, which is a free utility program from Apple for synchronizing your iPod (and PDAs and cell phones) with your address book and calendar, and iCal for creating and editing your calendar. Both are available for free from

If you have a Mac, the choice is easy: FireWire has been a part of every Mac since at least 2000, and it’s much faster than the USB connections typical on Macs. However, differences exist between iPod generations. Current (third-generation and fourth-generation) models offer a special cable with a flat dock connector to connect the dock — or the iPod itself — to the Mac’s FireWire port.

The dock includes a cable with a flat dock connector on one end and a FireWire (or optional USB) connector on the other. (An optional cable is available from the Apple Store that offers USB). You can connect the FireWire or USB end of the cable to the computer (to synchronize with iTunes and play iPod music in iTunes) or to the power adapter.

The connection on the bottom of the iPod is the same as the connection on back of the dock. Plug the flat connector of the cable into the iPod or dock, and then plug the six-pin FireWire connector on the other end to the FireWire port on your Mac (marked the Y symbol that resembles a radiation symbol), or plug the USB connector to the USB port on your Mac.

The full-size third-generation iPods don’t support USB 2.0 on the Mac, but iPod mini and fourth-generation models support it if your Mac offers USB 2.0, and a USB cable is provided. You need OS X 10.3.4 for connecting via USB 2.0 to a Mac.

First-generation and second-generation models offer only a standard FireWire connection, so you can use a standard Mac-style FireWire cable to connect the iPod to the Mac’s FireWire connection. Plug the six-pin connector of a standard FireWire cable into the iPod, and plug the six-pin connector on the other end to the FireWire port on your Mac. (The six-pin connector is marked by the Y symbol that resembles a radiation symbol.)

Connecting iPod with a PC using FireWire or USB cables

If you have a Windows PC you can use FireWire (called IEEE 1394 in PC circles), or USB 2.0, which is available on most current desktop PCs and laptops. FireWire/IEEE 1394 expansion cards are available in various formats: Some offer the standard six-pin port found on Macs, and some offer a four-pin port that is also used in camcorders.

If your card has a six-pin port, you can plug your iPod cable directly into it. For cards with four-pin ports, Apple provides the FireWire cable adapter, as shown in Figure, and you can hook it up to the Mac-standard six-pin connector at the end of your FireWire cable.

The FireWire cable adapter for connecting to a FireWire card that has a fourpin port.

The small four-pin connector on the adapter plugs into the four-pin port on the FireWire card. Then plug the other end of your cable to your iPod or your dock. You can purchase a special FireWire/IEEE 1394 cable that has a six-pin plug on one end and a four-pin plug on the other — look for it in well-stocked electronics stores that sell digital camcorders, as many camcorders use such a cable.

The FireWire cable adapter is supplied with full-size iPods but not with iPod mini. You can purchase one from the Apple Store. If you use USB 2.0 with your PC, you can use the USB 2.0 cable supplied with your iPod or iPod mini. The USB 2.0 cable that has a flat dock connector on one end and a USB 2.0 connector on the other.

Apple also offers a combination FireWire/USB 2.0 cable with a dock connector on one end and a cable that forks into two connectors — one for FireWire and one for USB 2.0.

iPod Power Supply

All iPods come with essentially the same requirement: power. Fortunately, it also comes with a cable and an AC power adapter that works with voltages in North America and many parts of Europe and Asia. First-generation and second-generation iPod models offer a Mac-style FireWire connection on the top of the iPod.

The power adapter also sports a FireWire connection, so all you need is a standard six-pin FireWire cable to plug in. Third-generation and fourth-generation models and iPod mini can use a dock that offers FireWire and USB connections. The dock can also connect to your home stereo through a line-out connection.

A FireWire connection to a Mac provides power to the iPod and recharges the battery as long as the Mac isn’t in sleep mode. A FireWire connection to a FireWire/IEEE 1394 card in a PC might not be able to provide power — check with the card manufacturer. The smaller 4-pin connections for FireWire/IEEE 1394 cards typically don’t supply power to the iPod.

If your iPod shows a display but doesn’t respond to your touch, don’t panic — check the Hold switch on top of the unit and make sure that it’s set to one side so that the orange bar disappears (the normal position). You use the Hold switch for locking the buttons, which prevents accidental activation.

You might notice that the iPod’s display turns iridescent when it gets too hot or too cold, but this effect disappears when its temperature returns to normal. iPods can function in temperatures as cold as 50 degrees and as warm as 95 degrees (Fahrenheit) but work best at room temperature (closer to 68 degrees).

If you leave your iPod out in the cold all night, it might have trouble waking from sleep mode, and it might even display a low battery message. Plug the iPod into a power source, wait until it warms up, and try it again. If it still doesn’t wake up or respond properly, try resetting the iPod.