iPhone and iPad

5 Great Ways to Put Your Dusty Old iPod to New Use

Tim Brookes 19-01-2012

old ipod usesHow long has your old iPod been in a drawer, unloved and dusty? Probably since the day you upgraded to a fancy new touch version or decided your smartphone would suffice from now on.


But wait! Your old iPod is still a more than capable device that eats MP3s for breakfast and even takes advantage of a few old-school apps. If you’re short on uses for your old white chum these days, read on…

First: Make It Awesome

This is somewhat of a precursor to all these steps, and may be required depending on the state of your old jukebox. The older your device, the worse the battery condition is going to be and the more bad sectors will be found on the hard drive. You can actually replace both the battery and the hard drive, and the process isn’t too difficult with the right tutorial.

Luckily there are detailed instructions regarding battery replacement over at iPodHowToVideo and batteries for your specific model can be ordered from retailers like iPodJuice and iPodBatteryDepot. If you’re unsure about doing this (or would rather pay someone else to do it) then Apple offers their own battery replacement service. This will of course cost you considerably more than doing it yourself, and depending on the age of your device, service may not be available.

As for the hard drive – those of you with “dead” iPods might benefit from Josh Highland’s advice in this blog post and for a comprehensive guide to upgrading your hard drive (i.e. putting in a larger capacity drive) then there’s a detailed article all about it over at Command Tab.

old ipod uses


Finally you might want to Rockbox your iPod. Rockbox is replacement firmware that comes with many benefits over the stock iPod firmware. No longer will you need to transfer music using iTunes, simply connect your iPod as a drive and play using a file-tree view. Rockbox supports lots of filetypes including FLAC and WMA and even comes with custom themes, a few basic apps and games to keep you happy.

A while back I wrote an article all about Rockbox Why You Should Ditch Your MP3 Player's Firmware In Favour Of Rockbox Read More , and I couldn’t recommend it more.

Car Jukebox

If you’re after a car jukebox then your old iPod is more than up to the task. I’d recommend upgrading the hard drive as per the steps above, though a new battery isn’t strictly necessary as your car should keep the jukebox powered for the time you’re using it.

ways to use ipod


Every FM car radio is compatible with an FM transmitter, and you won’t even need to buy a fancy iPod-compatible iTrip or equivalent (cheap 3.5mm converters on eBay will do fine). Many cars also accept 3.5mm line-in or even a basic cassette converter (for the decidedly old-school amongst you).

Turn It Into A….Something

Modern smartphones might make your grim greyscale LCD look particularly outdated, but that doesn’t mean old iPods can’t still be useful in their own right. Arguably the most basic thing you could use an old iPod for is a storage drive, which is as easy as enabling disk mode. You can then use it to store files, boot portable apps or do anything else a normal USB hard drive can do.

There are also a number of good apps, and though many of these are made somewhat outdated compared to our always-on-the-go smartphones, some might still prove handy.

ways to use ipod


Are you going away with no Internet or 3G for a while? You might want Wikipedia in your pocket How to Install Wikipedia on Your iPod Read More (or bits of it). Would a dedicated dictaphone be handy? Pick up an old iTalk or Belkin Voice Recorder on eBay. Those of you with iPod Photo or Video models can even download maps!

If you’re particularly artsy or good with your hands you could even get creative and integrate your iPod into something. I suggest an old 1980’s boombox for instant modern-meets-retro chic.

An “I Don’t Want To Ruin My iPhone” Device

Why drop your expensive iPhone 4S in the mud when your iPod will do the job just as well? As an insurance policy, an old iPod can be taken all sorts of places (and fiddled with) whilst your expensive smartphone remains safe and dry in your bag or pocket.

Going on a filthy hike through the mountains? Keep your mobile phone hidden from the elements and save your battery by further butchering your iPod. It deserves it! This applies to all sorts of places that might ruin your favourite gadget – building sites, the garden, music festivals, the beach…


ways to use ipod

If you’re really concerned you could even buy (or improvise) a super-tough case, who knows you might find some iPod Armor pretty cheap on eBay by now.

Relive Your Earlier Days

If your device has been lying dormant for years, then there’s a good chance it’s packed with music you may no longer have. If this is a problem, a simple recovery with iPod to Folder (you’ll need iTunes installed for drivers and it works on both Windows and Mac) should allow you to simply grab a backup of the files.

old ipod uses

Mac users can use an even more powerful tool called Senuti which makes transferring music and videos (if your iPod plays them) even easier. You can then rock out to all the awful music you thought would change the world when you were young.


Hopefully your old MP3 player still has a bit of life left in it. Spare hard drives and even batteries aren’t as expensive as they once were, and by the time you’ve improved both storage and charge capacity your iPod will be better than ever. Good luck, and enjoy reviving an old friend.

Do you still use an old iPod? Which version have you got and what new uses have you put it to? Share your ideas below.

Images: Gutted iPod (Josh Highland), In-Car iPodiPod 1G

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  1. Victor Z
    July 11, 2012 at 5:17 am

    I am still using my iPod classic 80G, and that's enough for me

  2. Stern Ben
    January 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I have been using an 4GB ipod nano first generation for over 5 years and love it.  I just replaced a battery ($5 + postage + $5 to the technician who did it).  I download podcasts - not music:   NewYorker fiction (a monthly short story read and discussed), Scientific American 60-second science , NPR weekly puzzle with Will Shortz, and a few others.    I listen when I exercise walk on the beach and have the wireless connector for the car - for trips out of the city.   
    That was one of the best birthday gifts I ever got.  And it was my grown kids who got it for me.

  3. Joseslepian
    January 19, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Sounds good -- I'll have to try one or more of these. Only problem ... where and when did I last see my iPod?

  4. Anonymous
    January 19, 2012 at 4:08 am

    I've been collecting old iPods for a while now, and while they have many uses, I really like using an old iPod when I'm out and about. I recently traded my Wii for a 1st generation iPod in great condition, and which still has about two hours of battery life on the original battery. I get lots of weird looks on the bus when I'm dancing to The Propellerheads in my seat.

    My favourite USE for an old iPod is a very practical one - until we recently got a new MacBook, we had a cranky eMac with a broken optical drive. How to install a new version of OS X, or recover from a lost system folder? I put a fully functioning Tiger install DVD on my wife's old iPod Mini, using a friend's computer. Since it's Firewire, I could boot from it (you couldn't boot from a USB device on PowerPCs), and then restore my system folder or do a completely fresh install. I came up with this when I got my wife a new iPod Nano 3rd generation, which required Tiger, and she was stuck on Panther. Despite having a broken battery connector, it functioned fine after a minute or two of being plugged in, and was a handy thing to keep in a desk drawer.

  5. Sandy Bridges
    January 19, 2012 at 3:01 am

    My old iPod shuffle won't function anymore. Whenever I plug it in my laptop, it doesn't detect a device at all.

  6. Joel Lee
    January 19, 2012 at 2:46 am

    I have a useless iTouch sitting in my drawer. It hasn't seen any activity for months.

    Here are some more uses that you could've listed: 1) paperweight, 2) something to throw at burglars!