Revisiting iPod mounting issues

A colleague called this morning to pick my brain about his mother’s 2G iPod nano. The gist of that pick was that this particular generation of iPod nano refused to mount on her Mac—every other generation of iPod thrown at the machine worked perfectly well. And that nano mounted on the colleague’s computer as it should. He reinstalled iTunes on his monther’s computer with no positive results. What to do? My suggestions went like this:

Create another account. This is the hoariest of Mac troubleshooting suggestions but useful nonetheless. It’s a good idea to create a new user account with Administration privileges so that should something funky like this happen, you can switch over to the other account and give it another go. If something is mucked up in the original account but not in the new account it gives you a broad notion of where the problem lies (plus it may allow you to do what needs doing, which, in this case, may be restoring the iPod on that Mac).

Wipe out iTunes. Should that other account work it’s time to return to the original account and kill iTunes dead, dead, dead. You do this not only be removing the application but hunting down and dispatching its support files as well. Apple kindly provides this document that explains how to do exactly that. (The instructions are for iTunes 7 but apply equally, in most cases, to iTunes 8. By “in most cases” I mean that if you don’t see iTunes Helper on your Mac, don’t sweat it. Remove the other files mentioned in the document.)

Note that when wiping out iTunes, don’t wipe out your iTunes Music folder (found at ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music). By default this is where your music and videos are stored.

Once you’ve killed iTunes, restart your Mac and install a fresh copy.

Enter Disk Mode. No go? See if you can force a restore on the iPod. You can do so by entering Disk Mode. To do that, hold down Center and Menu to force the iPod to reboot. As soon as it shuts off, hold down Center and Play/Pause. In short order you’ll see Disk Mode displayed at the top of the iPod. With luck the iPod will appear in iTunes’ Source list and you’ll be able to select and restore it.

Format on a PC. I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve been able to make uncooperative iPods see the light by restoring them on a Windows PC and then re-restoring them with the Mac version of iTunes. I dunno, maybe the horror of believing it will have to live in a Windows world motivates it to behave.

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