The Apple iPod Nano can be used to rent movies, play games, track your fitness, and even record video. It's impressive, but for first-time users, it can also be intimidating. So for the thousands of you out there who've purchased or received your first iPod Nano, I'm going to help you through the process of setting it up and syncing it with media from your computer.
First step: download the latest version of iTunes. It's free, works on both Mac and PC, and you can find it by going to CNET's Download.com. If you already have iTunes, make sure you're updated to the latest version, since the fifth-generation Nano requires iTunes 9 or later.
If you're new to iTunes, expect to take some time to explore its features and import your media. It's time well spent, since the organization and operation of your Nano is basically an extension of iTunes.
Next, connect your Nano 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-size media collection and you want the easiest way to just load up and go.
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 go back and change your selection down the road.
On the Nano, you also have an option called VoiceOver, where the iPod can speak the currently playing song and artist to you in a synthetic voice when you press and hold the headphone clicker. If it's not a feature that attracted you to the Nano to begin with, I say leave it checked off to save some setup time. Again, you can always go back later and enable the feature if you want it, so right now just go with your gut and check it on or off.
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 and another section for voice features.
The big 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 like the precise control that manual management gives them, but most users tend to leave this unchecked and let the iPod do its thing automatically.
On the top edge of the window you'll find a selection of tabs for your iPod, including the current summary page, music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, iTunes U, photos, contacts, and games. In each of these tabs you get to decide what media from your iTunes collection gets transferred to your Nano.
For instance in the music tab, you can decide to sync your entire music library, or just the specific playlists, artists, and genres listed 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 Nano.
The Photos and Contacts tabs are the only two sections that don't reference media contained within iTunes. Depending on whether you're on a Mac or PC, the Contacts tab (a rarely used feature) will allow you to pull data from whatever preferred contact and calendar programs you have on your computer.
For photos (shown here), users have the option to sync entire folders of images stored on your computer, or select specific subfolders within larger collections. Users also have the option of importing videos from these folders or transferring high-resolution versions of the photos for playback on a connected television (accessory required).
Let's say you're really into TV shows and dislike having to click around to find them. If you dive into the settings menu and select General and Main Menu, you'll find a list of media options you can add or remove from the main menu.
Annoyed to find your music playback shuffled every time the Nano gets jostled. Apple's "shake-to-shuffle" feature is fun at first, but can become tiresome after a few misfires. You can turn the feature off using the playback settings menu.
Another feature that wears thin after a while is the Cover Flow view that appears when you turn the Nano on its side. If you'd rather that your screen not rotate every time the Nano is held sideways, use the general settings menu to deactivate the feature.
For a video version of this tutorial, visit CNET TV.