If you're happy enough with the features your iPod offers out of the box that you don't want to install a custom firmware like Rockbox, but you'd still like to add a little personal flair to Apple's cookie-cutter look, you're in luck. Freeware application iPodWizard customizes the look and feel of your iPod's interface while still using a customized version of your iPod's default firmware on the device. That means you still get the same iPod software that you already know and love, but you can skin it to look however you want. Let's take a closer look at how to customize your iPod with iPodWizard.

What You'll Get

Before you put in the effort, it's always nice to see what you're working toward. Below I've rounded up some of my favorite custom themes, all of which you can install using iPodWizard.

Beautifully Black

iPod OS X

Northern Lights

Install Custom Themes

First, download and install the latest version of iPodWizard from the GetiPodWizard web site (as of this writing, the latest version is 1.3). This version of iPodWizard works with every iPod on the market except second and third generation nanos, the iPod classic, and the iPod touch. That means that if you've got a first through 5.5 gen iPod or first gen nano, you're ready to go with iPodWizard.

The iPodWizard Wiki already has a great tutorial detailing the process of installing new themes, so I won't go into a lot of detail. I will, however, share a few extra tips that would have helped me when I followed their tutorial.

First of all, since iPodWizard patches the firmware that's already on your device, you need to be able to tell iPodWizard where to find your firmware on your computer. Finding and downloading the latest firmware can be a pain, but if you know where to look, it should already be on your computer. To find it, go to Start -> Run and paste the following into the run box:

%appdata%\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPod Software Updates

That should take you to the directory that holds your latest installed firmware update—it's the file that ends in .ipsw. (If that doesn't work, try navigating to a similar folder manually.)

You can find themes on the iPodWizard Theme forum. It's a bit of a mess to look through, but if you pick your iPod type and sort the thread by number of views—like I did for 5th generation iPod themes—you can find a lot of the best themes really quickly.

Once you've got a theme you want to install and you've got your firmware handy, installing is a breeze. Just fire up iPodWizard, select iPodSoftwareFile from the Edit Mode drop-down, and select Open iPSW. Next, go to the Pictures tab, click the Load All button, and point iPodWizard at the folder containing the images of your theme. If your theme swaps layout and fonts, you'll need to perform similar operations on the layout and font tabs.

Once you've swapped the files you want to use with the defaults, just click the Write to iPod button. Disconnect your iPod (make sure to eject it properly first), and it should automatically reboot. When it does, your iPod's sporting a whole new look.

I'm relatively new to theming with iPodWizard, so if you're an old hand with this customization app, share you expertise in the comments.

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7 Opinions

  1. Chris M // 17 October 2008 at 00:12

    Pretty wicked! I'm still waiting for them to send the damn iPod, it's getting rather annoying now :/

  2. HoTsTePPa // 17 October 2008 at 00:38

    hang in the dude... its worth it!

    i got wind of a flipping cool ipod speaker from logitech that is due to be launched SOON.

    Trust me... when i say flipping cool... i mean the kinda thing that makes you skip a breathe! :)

  3. Chris M // 21 October 2008 at 01:18

    Ye, I'll send another follow up email to them at some point this week, because it's moving close to a month or so!

    Oh, sounds good, keep us posted!

  4. Anonymous // 10 February 2009 at 09:40
  5. Anonymous // 07 November 2009 at 08:49

    says that it doesn't support ipod classic??


  6. Anonymous // 11 March 2010 at 22:39

    What a stupid headline, when it's clear that this feature does NOT support the iPode Classics.

  7. Anonymous // 16 August 2011 at 04:38

    rename the goddamn post liar, it doesn't work with the classic..fuckstick lol srry im just a little peeved at thinking i finally found a working program for my 80g classic gues not eh? - the angry canadian