This December 2020 blog post tells you how to factory reset and replace the firmware on an Apple iPod Nano 2nd Generation A1199.
Warning: The instructions in this blog post wipe and modify the Apple device and you use the instructions at your own risk. If you break the Apple iPod Nano or other problems occur from following instructions in this blog post, don’t blame me!
I purchased an Apple iPod Nano 2nd generation via eBay for a very cheap price as part of a job lot and I was uncertain at the time of the purchase whether the music player worked or not!
When I first put it on charge it turned on, but the screen was very dim and thankfully after unplugging and then putting it back on charge the brightness increased.
After looking at the back of the device it stated A1199 and mentioned 2GB and looking at Apple’s website, it mentions the model details, including it being from September 2006.
First of all I factory reset the device and used it with my Apple iTunes account and then I decided to use an alternative firmware.
Please note: I used Windows 10 and iTunes 126.96.36.199 when writing these instructions.
How to factory reset an iPod Nano 2nd Generation A1199
- Make sure the Nano is fully charged before you continue.
- Run iTunes and then plug the iPod in the PC.
- Click on the iPod icon next to the drop-down list in the top-left area.
- Click ‘Restore iPod…’ and then ‘Restore’.
- Don’t disconnect the iPod yet and instead when iTunes says ‘Welcome to Your New iPod’, you can go through the ‘Get Started’ options and then later sync with your iTunes.
I ended up with the iPod being able to transfer music I had purchased via iTunes. I transferred a selection of songs, plugged in my Fresh ‘n Rebel headphones and enjoyed the music.
How to install a third-party firmware on an iPod Nano 2nd Generation A1199
Next I wanted to look at using the iPod Nano without iTunes and I turned to Rockbox, which is a free firmware that has been ported to a lot of music players. I think Rockbox is a great and thank you to all involved with it. You can reboot Rockbox back into Apple’s own firmware which is useful.
How to install Rockbox on the iPod Nano 2nd Generation A1199
- Download Rockbox from here or via a link here.
- Extract the files from the compressed zip file.
- Download the ipodcatcher.exe application from here or here.
- Extract the ipodcatcher application from the zip archive.
- Connect your iPod to your PC and wait a minute.
- Now run the ipodcatcher application.
- When it sees the device, press i to install the bootloader.
- After installation, press enter to exit the application.
- Now copy the .rockbox directory to your iPod’s main directory.
- Now safely eject the iPod from the computer.
Playing mp3 via Rockbox on the iPod Nano 2nd Generation A1199
- Create a directory such as ‘music’ on the iPod Nano. *
- Copy the mp3 files across to the iPod and then safely eject the device.
- Via Rockbox on the iPod, go to ‘Files’ then ‘music’ and you should see your mp3 files listed , which you can select to play.
* I placed the music directory alongside .rockbox, Calendars, Contacts etc.
I quite like the mp3 player in Rockbox and moving your finger around the nano’s wheel whilst playing a song, increases or decreases music volume.
There is quite a bit I’ve not looked at yet in Rockbox, such as the applications and games.
How to restart into Rockbox from the original firmware on the iPod Nano 2nd Gen
- Press the menu and centre buttons together and release when the screen goes dark. *
How to shutdown Rockbox on an iPod Nano 2nd Gen
- Press the play / pause button until you see the shut down message.
Other instructions for Rockbox can be found here.
I’ve not tried removing Rockbox yet, but I think you run ipodcatcher again and perhaps afterwards you delete the .rockbox directory.
I paid 88p (British GBP) for the old Nano and I don’t regret my second-hand purchase. I know the device is very old, but the battery on the one I purchased seems to be okay and I slip the device into my pocket and stroll around listening to music.
I hope this blog post has helped somebody and if you’ve found these instructions helpful, please leave a comment.