How to Restore an iPod Without Using iTunes

by Scott Shpak

Nothing should come between you and your favorite music, so when you're faced with a dark screen and no response from your iPod, knowing how to revive your device will put the beats back in your feets. In most cases, you can restore function to your iPod with a simple reset on the device itself, without accessing iTunes. The procedure you use depends on the model and generation of your player.

Reset Versus Restore

When it comes to getting your iPod back in action, the terms reset and restore have different meanings. A complete restore returns your iPod to the condition it was in at the time of purchase. A reset simply reboots the iPod's operating system. A reset should not affect:

  • Music, photos, videos or other data on your device
  • Most user settings, including current date and time
  • Bookmarks, On-The-Go playlists and Backlight timer

Tip

  • A true iPod restore erases all data and settings, returning the device to a "like new" state, provided there are no hardware problems. A full restore requires that your iPod be connected through its USB data cable to a computer running iTunes.

Tip

  • Don't attempt to reset your iPod if it is connected to a computer and you see one of these messages displayed:

    • Connected. Eject before disconnecting. 
    • Sync in Progress. Please wait. 
    • Do not disconnect.

    Use iTunes to eject the iPod before attempting a reset.

iPod Nano Generation 7

If you're not sure what model and generation your iPod is, Apple provides a page to identify your device.

Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button simultaneously, until the screen goes dark. The Apple logo appears momentarily, indicating the device is resetting. The Home screen appears when the reset is complete.

iPod Nano Generation 6

Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Volume down button simultaneously for about eight seconds, until the Apple logo appears. You may need to repeat this step before the reset occurs.

iPod Shuffle

Unplug your Shuffle from a computer, if it is connected, and then move the switch to the Off position. Wait 10 seconds, and then move the switch to the On position, with the green stripe showing. The Shuffle resets as it restarts.

Click Wheel iPods

Click wheels are found on several models of iPod. Laying a click wheel iPod on a flat surface usually helps the reset sequence.

Slide the Hold switch to the locked position, and then back to the unlocked position.

Press and hold the center button while also pressing and holding the Menu button for about eight seconds until you see the Apple logo. You may need to repeat this step before the reset begins.

Scroll Wheel, Touch Wheel and Dock Connector iPods

Slide the Hold switch to the locked position, and then back to the unlocked position.

Press and hold the Play/Pause button while also pressing and holding the Menu button for about eight seconds until you see the Apple logo. You may need to repeat this step before the reset begins.

Tip

  • If your iPod doesn't respond to reset procedures, plug the device into a power adapter to ensure that a drained battery is not causing the problems.

About the Author

As an operations and technical projects manager in the photofinishing industry, Scott Shpak is also an experienced audio engineer and musician, as well as Editor-in-chief, feature writer and photographer for Your Magazines Canada.