Naturally, Apple probably would prefer that you install iTunes software on your computer and use it to both organize the music on your computer's hard drive and transfer it to your iPod. That not only is the most straightforward method, but it also makes it as easy as possible to buy lots of music from the iTunes store. Maybe that sticks in your craw because you're a die-hard PC loyalist who resents all those snarky Apple commercials that stereotype you as a clueless techno-dweeb. Or maybe you don't really like the iTunes interface because it moves too slowly on your older PC. Or maybe the iTunes indexer crashes whenever it encounters that old mp3 of Captain Beefheart performing "Ice Cream for Crow" that you got from some peer-to-peer music pirate eons ago.
Not to worry. It's perfectly possible load music onto your iPod without using iTunes. According to Lifehacker's Adam Pash, the first step (and you do need a computer with iTunes on it for this) is to plug in your iPod, boot up iTunes, go to Edit: Preferences, and select the iPod tab. Next, select the Music tab and click OK on "Manually manage songs and playlists." This will set up your iPod as a removable hard drive, and keep it from automatically syncing with iTunes [source: Pash].
Next, you need another program on your PC to manage your music files. There are numerous choices out there -- such as MediaMonkey, SharePod, Winamp, Floola and Songbird, among others [source: Bell]. If you pick MediaMonkey, for example, you simply download and install it, let the program sort your music into genres, plug in your iPod, and then drag-and-drop whichever songs you want to load [source: Simplehelp.net].