8 Cool (and Useful) Mods for iPods and iTunes

Rev Up Your iPod with Rockbox

Compatible with: All iPods


Years in the making, open-source firmware Rockbox turns your iPod into a tweakable, customisable audio powerhouse for creating on-the-fly playlists, normalising track volume, and playing just about any audio file on the planet (including FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, and unprotected WMA). It comes with a five-band equaliser, custom fonts and themes, a real-time clock, and tons of iPod-compatible games and applications. In addition, you can choose from a huge library of plug-ins, including everything from a battery benchmark to a chess game to a Matrix-style screen saver.

Before you install Rockbox, which can be a tricky operation, bear in mind that the program's cool new features come at a price: At least temporarily, you trade in the iPod's friendly, straightforward interface for one that's noticeably Linux-like in appearance and function. Navigating the Rockbox interface is a little awkward at first, and it doesn't recognise songs, videos, or audiobooks purchased from iTunes. Furthermore, the Rockbox support forums contain the occasional scary post declaring "Rockbox ruined my iPod!" In our tests, however, Rockbox proved to be a fun and easily reversible modification.


Start by grabbing the manual for your specific iPod model. We'll assume here that you have a fifth-generation iPod Video and a Windows PC. Download and unzip the latest stable build of the Rockbox Utility, connect your iPod (making sure that it's enabled for disk use), select its drive letter, and then run the Complete Installation from the Quick Start tab. Follow the prompts until you've selected and installed some themes, at which point the utility will appear to stop working. No worries: It's just Rockbox's way of telling you that the installation is (almost) complete.

Your final preliminary task is to install the Rockbox bootloader, by way of a small utility called iPodPatcher. After running it, your iPod should reboot itself and fire up the Rockbox firmware. If that doesn't happen, reboot it yourself by holding down the Menu and Select buttons simultaneously for a few seconds.

Rockbox doesn't permanently alter your iPod. To revert to the original firmware, simply reset the player and immediately flip the Hold switch. (You can reset most iPod models by holding down the Menu button and the center Select button for a few seconds.) After it boots back to the Apple firmware, slide the Hold switch back again and use the iPod as you normally would.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

PC World Staff

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?