The 20 Best iPod Utilities

The 20 Best iPod Utilities

With a new generation of iPods on the market this holiday season, your
reliable old iPod may not seem as shiny as it once did. But with the
help of third party applications and utilities, you can unlock tons of
useful functionality you never knew was there and revive that aging
iPod so it doesn’t look quite so bad next to its successors. Whether
new or old, the following 20 iPod utilities can help you get the most
from your iPod.

Transfer (and Play) Music to and from Your iPod

While syncing music to
your iPod has always been a breeze, pulling music off your iPod isn’t
quite at easy—unless you’re using one of these handy apps, that is.

  • floola1.pngDitch iTunes with Floola (Windows/Mac/Linux):
    Floola is a freeware, cross-platform application that makes it easy to
    copy music and videos to and from your iPod from and to any computer.
    In all, Floola can actually work as a full-on iTunes replacement that
    can run from your iPod’s hard drive. And because it’s cross
    platform, Floola makes for an excellent all-around iTunes replacement
    if you’re not a fan of iTunes. For another cross-platform solutions,
    you might give YamiPod a try. (Read more about a self-sustaining iPod)
  • senuti1.pngRecover Your Library or Transfer New Songs to iTunes with Senuti (Mac):
    The freeware, Mac OS X only Senuti integrates tightly with your iTunes
    library to extract music from your iPod to your iTunes library and
    works particularly well for importing music that isn’t
    already in your iTunes library. Of course it’s also a godsend if you’ve
    had a hard drive failure and your only music backup is your iPod, but
    its playlist support and ability to scan your existing library so you
    avoid importing duplicate songs. (Read more)
  • ipod-folder.pngDead Simple iTunes Library Recovery with iPod -> Folder (Windows/Mac):
    If all you want to do is recover your music library from your iPod back
    to your computer, iPod -> Folder is probably the simplest way to do
    it. Just fire it up, point it to your iPod, point it to a folder on
    your computer, and let it rip. It even has a “Include MP3 files only”
    option in case you’re borrowing tunes from a friend’s iPod and you
    don’t want their DRM-infected files. (Read more)
  • mypodder.pngSync Podcasts to Your iPod from Any Computer with myPodder (Windows/Mac/Linux):
    Whether you’re a lover of podcasts who can’t wait to get to your home
    computer before getting your latest podcast fix or you just know you’ll
    need a few new podcasts to listen to for the commute home, myPodder can
    automatically download, manage, and sync any podcast to your iPod no
    matter whose computer you’re using. (Read more)

Converters: Video and Audiobook

Yes, you could purchase TV shows and movies from iTunes, but if you’ve
already got the DVD or you’ve downloaded a video that happens to be in
the wrong format, why should you shell out more cash to
Apple—especially when you can easily convert them for your iPod using
free apps?

  • handbrake1.pngRip DVDs for Your iPod with HandBrake (Windows/Mac/Linux):
    The cross-platform freeware application HandBrake is the go-to
    application when you want to rip a DVD for your iPod or iPhone (or PSP
    or PS3 or AppleTV…). Just pop in your DVD, pick what you want for
    your iPod, and start ripping. (Read more)
  • videora.pngConvert Videos for Your iPod with Videora iPod Converter (Windows):
    If you’ve got a video file on your computer that your iPod doesn’t
    support, fear not. Just plug it into Videora and let it do the heavy
    lifting for you. It even transcodes YouTube videos—all you need to do
    is give it the URL. (Read more)
  • isquint.pngConvert Videos for Your iPod with iSquint (Mac):
    Make any video iPod-compatible with iSquint. Just drag the videos you
    want to convert into the iSquint queue, choose the encoding quality
    (which will also determine file size and time required to encode), and
    let it rip. You can even tell iSquint to automatically add the video to
    your iTunes library once it’s done encoding. (Read more)
  • Convert YouTube Videos for Your iPod with Zamzar:
    Web site Zamzar is probably best known for converting pretty much any
    file format to any other file format (and it can be used for pretty
    much any iPod video conversion if you prefer it), but you may not have
    known that it also provides a simple method for converting any YouTube
    video for your iPod. Just enter the URL of the video, choose to convert
    it for your iPod, and it’ll email the finished product to you once it
    complete the conversion. (Read more)
  • ipodifier.pngMonitor Folders and Automatically Convert Videos with iPodifier (Windows):
    iPodifier transcodes files just like Videora and iSquint, but if you’re
    a frequent video downloader or you’re rolling your own DVR, iPodifier
    can be set to monitor a folder for new videos—like your BitTorrent
    downloads folder, for example—and automatically transcode them for your
    iPod. (Read more)
  • mp3-to-audiobook.pngMP3 to iPod Audio Book Converter (Windows):
    If you love a good audiobook but your book isn’t in the right format
    for your iPod, this handy little app will convert your MP3s to the iPod
    audiobook format (M4B) so you get all of the audiobook features like
    playback speed adjustment and “start from last position” functionality
    without the tedium of doing it yourself. (Read more)

Miscellaneous iPod Utilities

  • iscrobblerIntegrate Your iPod with with iSproggler (Windows) and iScrobbler (Mac):
    If you’re a fan of the music recommendation service and you
    happen to do most of your music listening on your iPod, you can
    automatically upload your iPod listening habits to the site with
    whichever application matches your operating system. Just install,
    enter your username and password, and forget it. (Read more)
  • Take Control of Your Shuffle with iPod Shuffle Database Builder (Windows/Mac/Linux):
    Add songs to your iPod shuffle by simply dragging them to your shuffle
    without touching iTunes—making it much more like a non-iPod MP3 player
    that lets you manage your music using your filesystem. (Read more)
  • ipodbackup.pngBackup Your Home Folder to Your iPod with iPodBackup (Mac):
    iPodBackup saves an encrypted image of your Mac’s home folder to your
    iPod with incremental, secure backups—great for those of you who iPod
    have several spare gigs of storage leftover even after you’ve synced
    your iTunes library. (Read more)

Upgrades for Older iPods

A number of third party applications and utilities exist to expand the
functionality of your existing iPod by modifying or installing new
software onto your iPod. For example:

  • ipod-video-to-classic.pngUpgrade Your iPod Video to an iPod classic (Windows): When Apple released the iPod classic, they gave it a simple visual refresh that one would think
    could easily be retrofitted to older iPods, but for whatever reason
    Apple’s not letting your run the fancy new interface on your older
    iPod. A replacement firmware for your video iPod brings the splitscreen
    interface of the updated iPod classic to your older video iPod. Read more)
  • wikipod.pngPut Wikipedia on Your iPod with Encyclopodia: (Windows/Mac/Linux)
    The open source Encyclopodia project brings the giant repository of
    knowledge that is Wikipedia to your iPod. Searching Wikipedia on the
    iPod is a bit of a chore (you have to type out your words with the
    clickwheel), but once you get used to it it feels pretty good to carry
    Wikipedia in your pocket. This one’s for decidedly older iPods, since
    it won’t work on 5G iPods or above, nanos, and, of course, shuffles. (Read more)
  • ipod-linux.png

  • Install Linux on Your iPod with iPod Linux: Had enough of the default iPod interface and want to jazz things up a little bit so you can do things like install and play games for free
    on your iPod? Replace the default iPod firmware with iPod Linux (or
    hell, use the graphical dual boot interface and run both). iPod Linux
    is supported on mostly older iPod generations. (Read more)
  • rockbox.pngReplace Your iPod Firmware with Rockbox:
    Supporting every iPod through the 5.5G video iPods, Rockbox is an open
    source firmware replacement for the iPod (and other MP3 players).
    Rockbox can sport everything from support, album art, a port of
    the video game Doom, a Game Boy emulator, video player, and tons more. (Read more)

iPhone and iPod touch Only

Okay, so if you do happen to have one of the fancier new iPods, you do
have access to a few other fairly exciting third-party developments.

  • Install Applications on an iPhone:
    This video demonstrates how to “jailbreak” your iPhone or iPod touch
    running the current firmware (1.1.2) so you can install third party
    applications (many of which are really impressive). If you’re still
    running 1.1.1, installing applications only takes one click.
  • stream-ipod-to-any-itunes.pngWirelessly Stream Music from Your iPod touch or iPhone to Any iTunes Library:
    Assuming you can install apps on your iPhone/iPod touch (see above),
    you can also stream your ‘Pod’s music library wirelessly to any
    computer on the same network. That means next time you want your friend
    to listen to a new song on your iPod you can ditch the headphones and
    do it on a proper set of speakers.

Did we miss a favorite of yours? Let’s hear what iPod apps and add-ons make your iPod—new or old—sparkle.

Adam Pash is a senior editor for Lifehacker who can’t leave well enough alone when it comes to iPods. His special feature Hack Attack appears every Tuesday on Lifehacker. Subscribe to the Hack Attack RSS feed to get new installments in your newsreader.

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