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iTunes: iPod not recognized in iTunes and Mac desktop

Symptoms

Can't see your iPod in iTunes or the Finder? The sections below contain steps that may help you fix your issue. 

Resolution

First, try the steps in the iPod Troubleshooting Assistant (choose your iPod model from the list). If you still see the issue after using the troubleshooting assistant, follow the steps in this article.

You may need to try these steps instead:

See if your iPod shows an exclamation point folder or sad iPod icon

If your iPod shows a folder with an exclamation point or a sad iPod icon on its screen, follow these steps.

Check your iPod cable

  1. Use the cable that came with your iPod. Some third-party cables may not work with iPod.
  2. Make sure that nothing is in or blocking your computer's FireWire or USB port.
  3. Make sure that the cable is completely plugged in.
    Note:
    If you're using an iPod shuffle (4th generation), make sure that the small end of the USB cable is inserted securely in the iPod shuffle's headset jack.
  4. Try another known-good FireWire or Apple 30-pin to USB Cable.

If switching cables fixes the issue, then you should replace the original cable. You can order a replacement iPod cable at the iPod Service website.

Disconnect all other USB and FireWire devices

Your Mac can power USB and FireWire devices that don't have their own power sources, but if you have too many devices connected to your computer, your Mac may not recognize your iPod. To see if this is the case:

  1. Disconnect all devices from your computer's USB and FireWire ports.
  2. Connect your iPod to your computer's USB or FireWire port using the cable that came with the iPod.

If your Mac recognizes your iPod, you might consider buying a powered USB or FireWire hub to connect your nonpowered devices. You can buy a hub from the Apple Store.

Check for the USB Low Power Notice

With any model of iPod (except for iPod shuffle), if you connect the device to a low-powered USB port (such as one on your keyboard or bus-powered USB hub), the USB Low Power Notice may appear.

If you click OK, your iPod won't appear. You should connect your iPod to one of the computer's USB ports or to a powered (connected to an electrical outlet) USB hub.

Connecting iPod (3rd generation), iPod (Click Wheel), and iPod photo through USB requires Mac OS X 10.3.4 or later. Use Software Update to get these updates. Apple recommends using the latest version of Mac OS X.

See if your Mac is sleeping

Your Mac must be awake to recognize iPod, and you should wake your Mac before you connect your iPod. If you connect your iPod while your Mac is sleeping, and then wake the Mac, your iPod may not appear.

Try alternate ports

  1. Verify that your connections are secure.
  2. Try another known-good FireWire or USB port on your computer or on a different computer.

If this fixes the issue, consult your computer's service and support guide to find out how to get the computer's port repaired. If your computer doesn't recognize any USB or FireWire devices through any port, follow these steps.

Check the iPod system requirements

Verify that your Mac meets the iPod system requirements. Select your country and model of iPod to review the system requirements.

Third-party FireWire and USB cards and PC cards may not work and aren't supported by Apple.

Check your iTunes and iPod Support installation

  1. Install the latest version of iTunes on your computer. Make sure that iTunes is installed on the startup disk and not on another volume. 
  2. Download iTunes and reinstall it.

Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6 only: If the issue remains, insert your OS X installation disc. In the Finder, select your OS X installation disc and double-click Optional Installs. When you see a list of software to install, select iPod support and finish the installation. Restart your Mac and test.

Check the ports on your iPod

  1. Make sure that nothing is in or blocking the dock connector or FireWire port on your iPod.
  2. Make sure that you completely plugged in the dock connector or FireWire cable.

If the above steps don't resolve the issue, your iPod may need service. You can arrange for service at the iPod Service website.

Can your iPod sync using FireWire or USB

Use this table to determine if your iPod charges and syncs using USB or FireWire. If you're not sure which model of iPod you have, you can use this table.

iPod (Scroll wheel) - -
iPod (Touch wheel) - -
iPod (dock connector)* -
iPod mini
iPod mini (2nd generation)
iPod (Click Wheel)
iPod photo
iPod Special Edition Harry Potter
with color display 20 GB
iPod Special Edition U2 20 GB
iPod (5th generation) -
iPod (5th generation late 2006) -
iPod Special Edition U2 30 GB -
iPod Special Edition Harry Potter
(5th generation) 30 GB
-
iPod classic -
iPod nano (1st through 3rd generation) -
iPod nano (4th generation and later) - -
iPod shuffle (1st through 4th generation) - -
iPod touch -
iPod touch (2nd generation and later) - -

*To sync iPod (dock connector) using USB, you must use an iPod Dock Connector to FireWire and USB 2.0 Cable.

Last Modified: Apr 16, 2014
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  • Last Modified: Apr 16, 2014
  • Article: TS1410
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