The Apple iPod Touch may carry the iPod name, but in truth, it has very little in common with any other iPod in history. With e-mail, Web browsing, games, instant messaging, and access to thousands of third-party apps, the iPod Touch is practically a pocket-size computer. Setting up your first iPod Touch can be both exciting and a little intimidating. To make things a little easier for you, I'm going to walk you through some basic setup tips.
First step: Make sure you have the latest version of Apple's iTunes software. It's free, works on both Mac and PC, and you can find it by going to CNET's Download.com. Even if you already have iTunes, make sure you're updated to the latest version, since iTunes 9 or later is required.
Next, connect your Touch using the included cable to one of your computer's USB ports. If iTunes isn't already open, connecting the iPod should launch the program and kick you into a setup assistant. Here's where you can name your iPod, and designate whether you want the iPod to automatically sync your music and photo collections. Checking these is the right way to go if you have a modest-sized media collection and you want the easiest way to just load up and get going. Leaving the boxes unchecked means that you'll need to manually select what music or photos get added later on. Either way, don't think too hard about this because you can always change your mind later.
Now we come to the iPod summary panel. You can see the name and model of your iPod here, along with options for how the iPod syncs media from iTunes. For the iPod Touch, I recommend hitting the Check for Firmware Updates button, since some models didn't ship with the latest OS. Apple may charge you around $5 for the update, but it is money well spent.
Another thing to note here is that if you check the "manually manage music and videos" box, iTunes will no longer push music and video onto your iPod automatically. Instead, you'll need to drag selections and playlists from your library and onto the player's icon. Some people prefer this direct control, but most users tend to leave this unchecked and let the iPod go automatic.
On the top edge of the window you'll find a selection of tabs for your iPod, including the current summary page, applications, music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, iTunes U, photos, and info. In each of these tabs you get to decide what media from your iTunes collection gets transferred to your iPod.
For example, in the music tab, you can decide to sync your entire music library, or, just the specific playlists, artists, and genres listed in the section below. When you're happy with the selections, hit the apply button in the bottom right corner and iTunes will start moving your music over to the iPod.
The backbone of what makes the iPod Touch so great is the wireless Internet support. Many apps and features rely on a Wi-Fi connection, so let's set that up right now. Click into Settings, then select Wi-Fi. Assuming you're at home or have access to a Wi-Fi network, switch the iPod's Wi-Fi on and select your preferred network from the list.
Parental controls can be found under general settings, which can restrict the type of music, videos, or game content that can be purchased on the device, as well as disable access to Safari, YouTube, and other applications.
Another thing people want to do right off the bat is browse the iTunes music and video store or download apps and games from the App Store. You can find icons for both the iTunes Store and App Store right here on the main menu, but both stores require you to sign in with your iTunes account log-in and password--which is, of course connected to your credit card. If the Touch is a gift to your kid and you're not comfortable having your credit card involved, you can scroll down to the bottom here and redeem iTunes gift cards as a way to enable purchases.
If you like the idea of customizing the arrangement of icons on your home screen, press and hold an icon for a few seconds and you'll notice that the icons become a little wobbly. In this state you can rearrange the order of the icons or even spread them across multiple pages. Once you're finished with your changes, hit the home button.
The Music menu also affords a degree of customization. By default, the main music tabs running across the bottom of the screen include playlists, artists, songs and albums. To change these selections to something more personally relevant, select the "more" tab and then hit the edit button in the upper right corner. Now, drag your preferred selections to the bottom and arrange them in any order you wish.
To see a video version of this tutorial, head to CNET TV.