iPod 101: What‘s On the Menu?

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Before you can dish it up, you've got to know what's on each menu first.

If you've got an iPod with a display, that LCD screen isn't just for looks—it serves as mission control into the inner workings of your iPod. (iPod shuffle customers can skip to the next lesson since you don't have a display screen.)

Menus allow you to navigate through your iPod content by simply scrolling the Click Wheel to highlight menu items, and pressing the Center button (the button formerly known as Select) to choose that item.

The very first time you turn on your iPod (press any front button), you'll be greeted with a Language menu that lets you choose the language in which your iPod menus are displayed. Scroll the Click Wheel to highlight your preference, then press the Center button. You should now see the main menu.

1. On iPod with color display models only.
2. On Fifth Generation iPod models only.

The Main Menu

The main menu screen content for an iPod with color display (Fifth Generation iPod shown here) and other iPods are almost identical.

The main menu is the first menu you see when you turn on your iPod, and serves as the starting point to get to what you want. The items in the screens above are the default menu items for that particular iPod model—the ones you'll see if you have not setup any menu customization yet.

If you ever find your iPod’s main menu doesn’t respond to your touch, check out the upper-left corner. If the lock icon is showing, your iPod is on hold, just slide the hold switch over to the other side, and your iPod will stop ignoring you.

Music, Photos (on iPod with color display models only), Videos (on Fifth Generation iPods only), Extras, and Settings are all menus in their own right, meaning they feature their own submenu items when you choose them. If you see a right arrow (>) icon next to a menu item, that item has its own submenu.

Shuffle Songs and Backlight aren't menus (notice that they don't have the arrow icon?)—they're player features. If you scroll the Click Wheel to Shuffle Songs and then press the Center button to choose it, one of the songs in your iPod will begin playing (if you have songs on your iPod), and all subsequent songs will be played in random order.

If you scroll to Backlight (this appears in all iPod main menus by default except the Fifth Generation iPod—you can turn on the Backlight menu display in Settings) and choose it, you'll turn on the LCD's backlight, which allows you to see your screen in the dark. iPods with a color display turn on the backlight whenever you scroll the Click Wheel or press a button. Choose Backlight again to turn it off, or do nothing for a set amount of time and the backlight will turn itself off automatically (see the Backlight Timer section in "The Settings Menu").

The Now Playing menu only appears if your iPod has a song playing or paused. When you choose it, you'll see the Now Playing screen, which details your song's name, artist, album, and how far along it is in its progress. Of course, if you're listening to an audiobook or podcast, you'll see the details for those items (book author, podcast episode, or what have you).

The Music Menu

Whether you're looking at an iPod with a color display or an older iPod you'll find identical items in the Music menu.

To view the Music menu, highlight Music in the main menu and press the Center button. This menu allows you to find all the songs, audiobooks, and podcasts on your iPod in a number of ways. From top to bottom, here are the submenu items in the Music menu along with the content that each submenu ultimately leads you to as you choose items (we'll show you how to browse your audio content in "Play That Funky Music").

  • Playlists (Music > Playlists > your playlists > songs in the playlist)
  • Artists (Music > Artists > artist's albums > songs on album)
  • Albums (Music > Albums > songs on album)
  • Songs (Music > Songs > all song titles)
  • Podcasts (Music > Podcasts > all podcast episodes)
  • Genres (Music > Genres > corresponding artists > artist's albums > songs on album)
  • Composers (Music > Composers > corresponding albums > corresponding songs on album)
  • Audiobooks (Music > Audiobooks > all audiobook titles)

The Photos Menu

If you have an iPod with a color display, you'll see a Photos menu on your iPod that'll allow you to proudly show off your pictures to anyone who passes by.

If your iPod has a color display, your music player can do double-duty as a photo viewer from the Photos menu. To view the Photos menu, choose Photos from the main menu. Depending on how you set your iPod photo-syncing settings in iTunes, your Photos menu content may vary from our screen above.

If you have photos on your iPod, you'll see Slideshow Settings and Photo Library displayed as the top two menu items. Any iPhoto (Mac), Adobe Photoshop Album (Windows), or Adobe Elements (Windows) photo albums and grouped content you've set to sync will appear below these two items. Here's where you'll wind up when you choose items in each of these submenus (we'll cover all the photo features in detail in "Show Me My Photos and Videos").

  • o Slideshow Settings (Photos > Slideshow Settings > customizable settings)
  • o Photo Library (Photos > Photo Library > thumbnails > full screen view)
  • o Synced Photo Album or Folder (Photos > synced photo album or folder > thumbnails > full screen view)

When you highlight an image and press the Center button when viewing photos as thumbnails, small graphical representations of your photos, you'll see the chosen thumbnail in full screen mode. If you press the Play/Pause button, your iPod will parade your photos as a slideshow.

The Videos Menu

If you have the latest iPod, you can watch videos right on your player—just access the Videos menu.

If you have a Fifth Generation iPod, you can watch music videos, TV shows, movies, and even video podcasts right on your iPod. To view the Videos menu, choose Videos from the main menu. Depending on what kind of videos you have on your iPod, your Videos menu content may vary from ours. Here's what you'll find in each of the Videos menu's submenus.

  • Video Playlists (Videos > Video Playlists > all video playlists)
  • Movies (Videos > Movies > all movies)
  • Music Videos (Videos > Music Videos > Artists > artist's videos)
  • TV Shows (Videos > TV Shows > all TV shows)
  • Video Podcasts (Videos > Video Podcasts > all video podcasts)
  • Video Settings (Videos > Video Settings > customizable settings)

To watch a video on your iPod, just choose the type of video you want to watch in the Videos menu, choose a video in the resulting screen and press the Play/Pause button (we'll cover the video features more in-depth in "Show Me My Photos and Videos").

The Extras Menu

Older iPods offer some cool Extras items, but Fifth Generation iPods and iPod nano feature some extra Extras.

The Extras menu contains a whole host of features to take your iPod beyond just being your favorite music player. To view the menu, choose Extras from the main menu (we'll go into more detail about some of the submenus in "Maximize My Experience"). Here's what you'll find in the Extras menu and where each will lead you to:

  • Clock1 (Extras > Clock > the time and date, Alarm Clock, Sleep Timer, and Date & Time submenus)
  • Clock2 (Extras > Clock > world clocks > Alarm Clock, Change City, Daylight Saving Time, Delete This Clock, and Sleep Timer submenus)
  • Games (Extras > Games > Brick, Music Quiz, Parachute, Solitaire > selected game screen)
  • Contacts (Extras > Contacts > contact names > contact information)
  • Calendars (Extras > Calendars > calendar list, plus a To Do submenu and Alarms option)
  • Notes (Extras > Notes > text files in the Notes folder)
  • Stopwatch2 (Extras > Stopwatch > Timer, session logs)
  • Screen Lock2 (Extras > Screen Lock > Set Combination, Turn Screen Lock On submenus)

1. Older iPods with a color display and all monochrome iPods
2. Fifth Generation iPod and iPod nano only.

The Settings Menu

Though it's not apparent in this image, the Settings menu items in an iPod with color display differ slightly from older iPods due to some feature differences.

The Settings menu allows you to customize what your iPod displays and how. Just choose Settings in the main menu to view a slew of items that you can tweak to your liking. Here's what you'll find in the Settings menus for iPod with color display models and iPod mini, what you'll get when you choose an item, and what you can change.

  • About (Settings > About > iPod information)—This screen displays information about your iPod, including the number of songs and photos1 it contains, its capacity, how much space is left, software version number, the serial number, and the model type.
  • Main Menu (Settings > Main Menu > list of all items in each menu)—This screen lets you determine which menu items to display in the main menu screen. For example, you can put Contacts in the main menu if you don't want to keep navigating to the Extras menu to get to it. We'll show you how to customize your main menu shortly.
  • Shuffle (Settings > Shuffle)—Lets you toggle the shuffle feature to shuffle Songs or Albums, or turn the feature Off.
  • Repeat (Settings > Repeat)—Lets you toggle the repeat feature to repeat a song over and over (choose One), repeat all songs in the list (choose All), or turn the feature Off.
  • Volume Limit—Fifth Generation iPods provide an easy way to set a maximum volume limit to prevent the volume from exceeding a certain level. This works with any headphones or speakers attached to the headphone jack. For parental control, you can even assign a combination to prevent the setting from being changed.
  • Backlight Timer (Settings > Backlight Timer > duration)—This screen lets you set how long the backlight displays before turning itself off. You can choose Off, 2 Seconds, 5 Seconds, 10 Seconds, 15 Seconds, 20 Seconds, or Always On.
  • Brightness—Fifth Generation iPods let you control the screens brightness with an easily set slider. Brightness affects battery life, so you can affect playback time by lowering screen brightness.

Alone in the Dark?

You can easily turn on the LCD's backlight by pressing and holding the Menu button until the light turns on, rather than sticking the screen up to your eyeball as you hunt for the Backlight control. iPod with color display models always turn on the backlight when you press a button or scroll the Click Wheel. Of course, if you set the backlight to Off, you can turn it on with the same Menu button press.

  • Audiobooks (Settings > Audiobooks > reading speed)—This screen allows you to vary the reading speed when you're listening to an audiobook file—this is especially helpful if your book narrator is amped up on coffee or has the delivery of a turtle. You can choose Slower, Normal, or Faster to suit your listening comprehension.
  • EQ (Settings > EQ > preset equalizer settings)—This screen allows you to choose an EQ preset to make your music sound even better. The presets cover a wide spectrum of music genres, including Acoustic, Bass Booster, Classical, Dance, Electronic, Flat, Hip Hop, Jazz, Latin, Lounge, Pop, R&B, Rock, Spoken Word, Treble Booster, Vocal Booster, and, of course, Off.

    Whether you want to hear your music booming on the bottom or hear the singer's words loud and clear, you'll find plenty of presets in the EQ menu.

  • Compilations1 (Settings > Compilations)—Lets you enable the Compilations menu in the Music menu (choose On) to browse songs that are grouped in compilations (if you have compilation albums). Choose Off to disable this menu.
  • Sound Check (Settings > Sound Check)—If you use the Sound Check feature in iTunes (it makes all songs play at the same volume) this lets you toggle the same feature On or Off for iPod play (Sound Check must have been activated in iTunes when you copied songs to your iPod for this iPod feature to have any effect).
  • Contrast2 (Settings > Contrast > contrast slider control)—This screen lets you adjust the contrast of your iPod mini (or older iPod with monochrome display) screen. Scroll the Click Wheel right to make the screen darker, or left to make the screen lighter.
  • Clicker (Settings > Clicker)—The clicker is the sound you hear when you scroll the Click Wheel. By default, the Clicker is set to Speaker to make the sound emanate from the internal speaker on your iPod (and no, you can't play music through this speaker). You can also set this to Headphones (plays the sound only through connected headphones), Both (plays the sound through the speaker and headphones), or Off (gets rid of the sound altogether).
  • Date & Time (Settings > Date & Time > Set Time Zone, Set Date & Time, Time, Time in Title)—This screen allows you to set the time and date on your iPod, as well as how this information should be displayed. Choose the Set Time Zone submenu to choose your time zone. Choose the Set Date & Time submenu to set the date and time (of course!). The Time menu item lets you set the clock for 12-hour or 24-hour time. The Time in Title item lets you choose to have the time displayed in the menu title after briefly displaying a menu's title (choose On) or not (choose Off).

    Your iPod also functions as a fine timepiece so you can keep track of the hours and days you spend in la la la land.

  • Contacts (Settings > Contacts > sorting and display preferences)—This screen includes two menu items. Sort lets you set the criteria for the order in which your contacts appear in your iPod—either by first name (choose "First Last") or last name (choose "Last, First"). Display lets you set how your contacts' names are displayed in the Contacts menu (choose "First Last" or "Last, First").
  • Language (Settings > Language > languages)—All iPods with a display are multilingual, meaning you can change the default language that appears in your iPod menus and screens. You can choose English, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, or other language. Don't worry; your iPod will still display song titles in their native language no matter what default language you set (for example, English song titles, artists, and albums will still appear in English even if you switch the language to Japanese or Spanish).
  • Legal (Settings > Legal > copyright, trademark, and other licensing information)—Here's where we give credit where credit is due. This screen displays all the copyright, trademark, and licensing information for the companies who've helped make iPod what it is. And it's a nifty place to go if you enjoy staring at the Apple logo.
  • Reset All Settings (Settings > Reset All Settings > do it or abort)—If you get a little too carried away with all your menu customizing, settings tweaking, and whatnot, this screen is your ticket to putting everything back to where it was when you first got your iPod. Choose Reset to reset all menus and settings back to the defaults (this doesn't affect any of your audio files, photos1, contacts, and other data), or Cancel (or press the Menu button) if you want to abort your mission.

1. iPod with color display models only
2. iPod with monochrome display models only

Customize My Menu

If you prefer to order stuff that's not on the main menu, choose Settings > Main Menu (right) and create your own custom main menu (left).

We just gave you the grand tour through each of the menus on your iPod, but just because we lined up all the menus in this manner, it doesn't mean that you have to stick with our program. In fact, you can customize the content that appears in the main menu to get to the stuff you care about even faster. Here's how.

  1. 1. Choose Settings > Main Menu. All main menu items (the stuff that appears in the main menu screen by default) appear near the left edge of the screen. Their submenu items appear as indented text below the corresponding menu (see the right screen in the image above).
  2. 2. Use the Click Wheel to scroll to any submenu item that you'd like to be able to access from the main menu.
  3. 3. Press the Center button to change its Off status to On. This submenu will now appear as a main menu item.
  4. 4. If you want to turn off a main menu item, scroll to an item whose status is On and choose it to turn it to Off. For example, you might want to turn off the Extras menu and turn on Contacts and Calendars if those are the only Extras items you use.

Don't worry about turning off stuff and not being able to access that menu again. None of the Settings menu items appear in Settings > Main Menu, so you can't paint yourself into a corner. If you decide to, say, bring back the Extras menu because you miss Solitaire, just turn on Extras again in Settings > Main Menu (or turn on the Games submenu).

Take me to the iPod Anatomy index                             Take me to Lesson 3: Charging the Battery

Published Date: Feb 18, 2012