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Archived - Playing Songs, Audiobooks, and Podcasts on an iPod

Learn how to use the controls on your iPod to play and navigate through your audio files.

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

Once you press the Play button, an iPod with a display provides the details of your aural enjoyment on its screen.

Playing Songs, Audiobooks, and Podcasts on an iPod with a Display

Playing songs, audiobooks, podcasts, and games on any iPod with a display is easy—simply choose a file from a menu and press the Play/Pause button to start play; press the button again to pause. You can use the Next/Fast-forward and Previous/Rewind buttons to navigate through songs, audiobook and podcast chapters, or playlists.

When a song, audiobook, or podcast is playing, your iPod will display the song details onscreen, such as the song name and artist (or audiobook name and author). You'll also see a progress bar that displays how long the file has been playing on the left and how much time is left on the right.

If you want to turn the volume up or down, scroll the Click Wheel while an audio file is playing; the progress bar magically turns into a volume meter, allowing you to eyeball the volume's loudness or softness. If you press the Center button when the progress bar is displayed, a diamond appears in the bar, allowing you to scroll the Click Wheel left or right to scrub (audibly rewind or fast-forward) through the audio file. Press the Center button again or wait a few seconds for the regular progress bar to display again.

Show Me How

Locating Files to Play

You can find songs to play on your iPod in a variety of different ways—by artist, album, song name, genre, and more. Now we'll take this a step further by showing you all the different ways you can navigate the menus to play songs, audiobooks, and podcasts.

First, go to the Music menu (highlight Music in the main menu and press the Center button). As we said before, the submenus within the Music menu allow you to find and play songs, audiobooks, podcasts, and games on your iPod. Here's how to play audio files when you follow the navigational path for each of the following submenus (from top to bottom) in the Music menu.

Here are some of the submenus you'll find in the Music menu—see where these will lead you in the navigation guides below.

Playlists (Music > Playlists > your playlists > songs in the playlist)

This menu gives you quick access to every playlist you have on your iPod, whether you created the playlist in iTunes or on iPod with a display.

To start playing songs in a playlist, use the Click Wheel to scroll to the desired playlist and press the Center button to choose it. For example, if you want to choose the On-The-Go playlist (the one that you can create and edit on your iPod), highlight On-The-Go and then choose it (in iPod menu speak, you'd choose Music > Playlists > On-The-Go).

The screen displays a list of all songs in your playlist in the order you set. The first song in the list is highlighted by default; press the Play/Pause button to start playing the entire playlist, or scroll to a preferred song and choose it if you'd rather start play from a particular point.

Artists (Music > Artists > artist's albums > songs on album)

If you want to search for songs by artist, choose this menu. Once you do, the Artists menu displays a list of every music artist you have on your iPod. When you highlight and choose one, you'll see another menu that lists all albums you have on your iPod by that artist. When you choose an album, you'll go to another menu that lists the songs you have from that album. From that point, you can press the Play/Pause button to start playing the album, or scroll to a particular song and start play from that point.

Some of my artists are missing!
As you browse for songs by artist, album, composer, or other criteria, you may notice that some of the artists, album titles, composers, and whatnot that you have on your iPod are missing from the corresponding menu listings, or that song names don't display correctly. This can happen if any song file is missing some information from its ID3 tag, song data included with an audio file that details the artist, song title, album, genre, and more.
 

Albums (Music > Albums > songs on album)

If you want to search for songs by album, choose Albums. The Albums menu displays a list of every album stored on your iPod, even if you have only a couple songs from an album. To choose an album, scroll to its name using the Click Wheel, then press the Center button. You'll see another menu that lists the songs you have on that album. You can then press the Play/Pause button to start playing the album, or scroll to a particular song and start play from that point.

Songs (Music > Songs > all song titles)

If you want to see a list of all the songs you have on your iPod, choose Songs. All songs in the Songs menu appear in alphabetical order. Use the Click Wheel to highlight the song you want and then press the Play/Pause button to hear it.

Podcasts (Music > Podcasts > podcast episodes)

If you have podcasts (radio-style shows that you can download from the Internet) on your iPod, they should show up in the Podcasts menu. Just choose the Podcasts menu to view a list of all your podcasts. If you don't see some of your podcasts listed here, you can find them in other relevant menus (for example, choose Music > Genres > Podcast to view all files tagged with the "Podcast" genre, or choose Music > Albums to find podcasts by title).

To play a podcast episode, scroll to a podcast title, press the Center button, scroll to an episode in that podcast subscription, and press the Play/Pause button. Just like when it plays songs, your iPod displays the podcast details and progress on the screen (if you have an iPod with a color display, you may see artwork as well). If a podcast contains chapter markers, you can use the Next/Fast-forward and Previous/Rewind buttons to skip around.

When you press the Play/Pause button to play a podcast, the podcasts's details and progress are displayed in the Now Playing screen (iPod with color display models may show artwork too).

Genres (Music > Genres > corresponding artists > artist's albums > songs on album)

If you're in the mood for a particular style of music, choose the Genres menu to see a list of various musical styles (Rock, Pop, R&B, Punk, Jazz, Blues, and what have you). When you choose the style of music you want, you'll see a menu that lists all artists on your iPod that match that style (as long as the files are tagged properly).

Once you choose an artist, you'll get a menu that lists all albums you have by that artist on your iPod. Choose an album and you'll get a menu that lists the corresponding songs. You can then press the Play/Pause button to play the album, or scroll to a particular song and start play from that point.

Tip: Wish that you could hear a mix of all artists in a particular genre? Create a Smart Playlist in iTunes that sorts songs by genre and add it to your iPod. Find out how "How to create a Smarat Playlist with iTunes."

Composers (Music > Composers > corresponding albums > corresponding songs on album)

For you classical music fans, the Composers menu will help you find songs by composer instead of by artist (as long as your files have this information in their ID3 tags). This comes in handy when you want to, say, see all the songs you have by Beethoven, instead of having to scour the Artists menu to find all the various symphony, orchestra, and choir listings that play Beethoven songs. Of course, if you don't have classical music on your iPod, you can check out all the folks responsible for writing the tunes you have too.

Just choose a name in the Composers menu and you'll get another menu that lists the albums that contain songs written by your chosen composer. Choose an album and you'll get a list of the specific songs written by the composer. You can then press the Play/Pause button to play all the songs in the order listed, or scroll to a particular song to start play from that point.

Audiobooks (Music > Audiobooks > all audiobook titles)

If you have audiobooks (spoken word audio files) in Audible file format (.aa) on your iPod, you can easily get to them by choosing Audiobooks. All book titles will be listed in alphabetical order in the Audiobooks menu. Just highlight a book and press the Play/Pause button to either start the book from its beginning (if this is the first time you're playing the audiobook) or from the spot where you last left off (iPod and iTunes include a bookmark feature that automatically bookmarks the spot when you stop or pause an audiobook file).

As with songs and podcasts, the Now Playing screen will display your audiobook's details, progress, and, if you have an iPod with a color display, any artwork attached to the file. You can use the Next/Fast-forward and Previous/Rewind buttons to skip chapters, or hold down either of these buttons to scrub forward or backward, respectively, through the audio to get to the good parts.

Playing Songs, Audiobooks, and Podcasts on iPod shuffle

iPod shuffle allows you to play your audio files in a couple different ways—you can play songs, audiobooks, and podcasts in the order in which they appear on your player, or let iPod shuffle work its namesake magic for you (that is, shuffle the files by playing them randomly).

Show Me How

If you want iPod shuffle to play audio files in the order in which they appear on the player, move the switch on the top of the iPod shuffle to the play in order (circular arrows) position. If you want iPod shuffle to play songs in random order, move the switch to the shuffle (crossed arrows) position.

This iPod Shuffle is set to shuffle.

To play music, an audiobook, or podcast, just press the Play/Pause button. To skip to the next song (or a different song if you're in shuffle mode, or a different chapter if you're listening to an audiobook or podcast), press the Next/Fast-forward button. To fast-forward through the audio, hold down the Next/Fast-forward button. To go back to the beginning of a song (or the previous chapter), press the Previous/Rewind button; press this button twice to go to the previous song or hold it down to rewind through the file.

To stop play, press the Play/Pause button during play. To turn off iPod shuffle, move the switch to the Off position (you shouldn't see green beneath the switch).

Last Modified: May 14, 2009
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  • Last Modified: May 14, 2009
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