What You Need to iPod

The iPod is designed to communicate with a Mac or a PC, which serves as the loading dock for tunes. Fortunately, it doesn’t have especially demanding system requirements. Here’s what your computer must have to use a hard drive–based iPod:

  • A decent amount of horsepower. For the Macintosh, Apple recommends 256 megabytes of RAM and at least a 400-megahertz G3 processor. For the PC, you need at least a 500-megahertz Pentium-level processor and at least 96 MB of RAM, or 256 MB if you have Windows XP. More memory, of course, is always better.

  • A recent operating system. For the Mac, you need Mac OS 9.2.2 (to use iTunes 2 with a pre–2003 model iPod) or Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later (to use iTunes 4). Of course, if you go all the way to Mac OS X 10.2 or later, you get to use a lot of extra goodies in concert with your iPod, like iCal, iSync, and the Mac OS X Address Book.

  • Windows 2000 or XP to use Apple’s iTunes for Windows software.

  • A FireWire or USB 2.0 connector. FireWire, also known as IEEE 1394, is a fast cable connection for transferring data. Most Macs made after 1998 come with built-in FireWire, but FireWire jacks are only now becoming standard connectors on Windows PCs.

    If your PC doesn’t have a FireWire connector, you can add a FireWire card to it (Chapter 2)—or use USB 2.0, which is even faster that the original FireWire connection. USB 2.0 is becoming a standard feature on new Macs and PCs, and you can install it into older machines via USB 2.0 expansion cards.


These are the requirements your computer must meet to use the iPod with iTunes. If you have an older Mac or PC and the yearning to buy an iPod, you still might be able to use it by getting a third-party music-management program that’s less fussy about operating systems than iTunes.

Get iPod and iTunes: The Missing Manual, Third Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.