Despite the ever-increasing power and functionality of iPhones, iPods are still fantastic portable media players that can hold vast music libraries in a small form factor. iPods were designed for you to listen to music and other media files on the go, but it's still possible to access this content on your computer.
Here's how to tweak an iPod setting and play music directly from the iPod through your computer's speakers.
Banjo Brown / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
The information in this article applies only to iPods that include the iPod Classic, Nano, and Shuffle. To play music from an iPhone or iPod touch on your computer, you don't have to tweak any settings, because they're iOS devices.
Play Your iPod Music on a Computer
Accessing music from your iPod is handy if you're away from home. Play your music at work, at a friend's house, while traveling, or anywhere else without having to copy your music library. Here's how:
Connect your iPod to a computer using the sync cable.
Select the iPod's name in the Devices section of the iTunes source pane.
On the Summary page, check the box labeled Manually Manage Music and Videos.
When you manage an iPod manually, syncing won't occur automatically when you connect the iPod to a computer. You'll need to manually add and remove media content on that iPod.
Select OK in the warning dialog box.
Select the iPod's name in the iTunes source pane under the Devices section.
Select the triangle next to the iPod's name to see its playlists and other content.
Select Music to reveal a list of songs on the iPod.
Select an item in the iPod's song list and then select the iTunes Play button.
Enjoy your music!
When you manually manage your iPod, you must eject it properly before unplugging the device from your computer. Right-click on the iPod in the left-hand column and choose Eject or select the Eject button.
Using a Friend's iPod on Your Computer
Through this process, you can even play a friend's iPod through your computer, or play your iPod on a friend's computer, but there are a few differences in the process you should be aware of.
Connect your friend's iPod to your computer.
You'll see a message asking if you want to delete this iPod's contents and sync it to your library. Choose Cancel.
If you're asked to sync photos from your friend's iPod to your library, select No.
Your friend's iPod will appear in the Devices section of the source pane.
Select Music to display the iPod's contents.
At first, the content will appear to be grayed out, and you won't be able to play any songs.
Select your friend's iPod in the Devices section. The Summary page will appear.
Select Manually Manage Music and Video.
Select OK to confirm this setting change and then select the Apply button.
If you see a message asking if you want to sync photos, select No.
In the Devices section of the source pane, select your friend's iPod and select Music. You'll now be able to access any songs in their library and play it through your computer.
Another bonus of playing your iPod on a computer is that while the iPod plays, its battery is also being charged.