How to Update iPod and iTunes Software

By Tony Bove

You should always keep your iPod updated with new versions of the software that controls the device — which is iOS for the iPod touch, or the iPod system software for an iPod classic, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle. New versions often include bug fixes as well as new features.

Checking the software version

The fastest way to find out if the version of iOS on your iPod touch is the most recent version, choose Settings→General→Software Update. If a new version of the software is available, you see the Download and Install button. If your version of iOS is current, the screen tells you so, and you don’t see those buttons.

To see which version of iOS is installed on your iPod touch, choose Settings→General→About. Next to the word Version is information that describes the software version installed.

To see which version of the iPod system software is installed on an iPod nano or iPod classic, choose Settings→General→About from the iPod nano Home screen or Settings→About from the iPod classic main menu. Next to the word Version is information that describes the software version installed.

You can also determine the software version on your iPod touch, iPod nano, iPod classic, or iPod shuffle by using iTunes. Connect the iPod to your computer and select it in the iTunes source pane (in the Devices section). The Summary page appears to the right of the source pane, and the software version appears next to Software Version at the top of the page.

Updating with newer software

To update your iPod touch software from iCloud, choose Settings→General→Software Update. If a new version of the software is available, you see the Download and Install button — tap it to install the new version of the software. The installation doesn’t affect the music or data stored on it.

You need to use iTunes to install or update the software on an iPod nano, iPod shuffle, or iPod classic, and you can also use iTunes to update iOS on your iPod touch. Connect the iPod to your computer, click the iPod button, and you’ll see the Summary sync page appear. iTunes automatically checks for updates of iOS or the iPod software and lets you update your iPod without affecting the music or data stored on it. iTunes includes updates for all generations of iPods and can detect which iPod models you have.

Make sure that you use the newest version of iTunes. To check for the availability of an updated version for Windows, choose Help→Check for iTunes Updates. If you use a Mac and you enabled the Software Update option in your System Preferences, Apple automatically informs you of updates to your Apple software for the Mac, including iTunes. All you need to do is select which updates to download and then click the Install button to download them.

If an update is available, a dialog appears to ask permission to download it. Go ahead and click OK to update the iPod; you’ll be happy you did. After you update the software, iTunes continues syncing the iPod until it is finished.

You can also check for a new version of iOS or new iPod software at any time by clicking the Check for Update button on the Summary sync page.

Updating iTunes on a Mac

You can set your Mac to automatically download the latest version of iTunes when it becomes available. Choose Preferences from the iTunes menu, click the General tab, and select the Check for New Software Updates Automatically check box at the bottom of the General preferences to turn it on.

The Mac App Store can update your version of iTunes. Launch App Store on your Mac and click the Updates button at the top of the screen to see the Updates screen. Your Mac checks for application updates, and if your version of iTunes is not the current version, an iTunes update appears on the Updates screen. Click the Update button for the iTunes update.

You can also set your Mac to check for all system software and Apple applications (including iTunes). Choose System Preferences from the Apple menu, and then choose Software Update from the System Preferences window. Select the Automatically Check for Updates check box to turn it on. You can also click the Check Now button to check for a new version immediately. If one exists, it appears in a window for you to select. Click the check mark to select it, and then click the Install button to download and install it.

If you want to manually install iTunes on your Mac or manually upgrade the version you have, you can browse the Apple website to get it, and follow the installation instructions.