How to Control the 3rd Generation iPod Shuffle

The Third Generation iPod Shuffle
image credit: Apple Inc.

The way you control almost every iPod model is obvious: use the buttons on the front. But that doesn't work with the third-generation iPod Shuffle. It doesn't have any buttons on it. There's a switch, a status light, and a headphone jack on the top of the Shuffle, but otherwise, the device is just a plain stick. So how do you control it? 

How to Control the Third Generation iPod Shuffle

There are two things you need to pay attention to when it comes to controlling the 3rd Generation iPod Shuffle: the status light and the headphone remote.

The status light on the top of the Shuffle gives visual feedback that confirms your actions. The light turns green to provide most feedback, though it also turns orange in a few cases. 

Rather than using buttons on the iPod itself, the 3rd Generation Shuffle uses the inline remote control built into the included headphones (​third-party headphones with remotes also work). That remote includes three buttons: volume up, volume down, and a center button. 

While three buttons may seem limited, they actually provide a good set of options for the Shuffle, since it doesn't have too many features anyway. Use a headphone remote to control the third-generation iPod Shuffle in these ways:

Raise and Lower the Volume

Use the volume up and down buttons (surprise, right?). The status light blinks green when the volume is changed. It blinks orange three times when you hit the highest or lowest volume to let you know you can't go any further.

Play Audio

Click the center button once. The status light blinks green once to let you know you've succeeded.

Pause Audio

After audio is playing, click the center button once. The status light blinks green for about 30 seconds to indicate the audio is paused.

Fast Forward Within a Song/Podcast/Audiobook

Double-click the center button and hold it. The status light blinks green once.

Go Back Within a Song/Podcast/Audiobook

Triple-click the center button and hold it. The status light blinks green once.

Skip a Song or Audiobook Chapter

Double-click the center button and then let it go. The status light blinks green once.

Go Back to the Last Song or Audiobook Chapter

Triple-click the center button and let it go. The status light blinks green once. To skip to the previous track, you must do this within the first 6 seconds of the song. After the first 6 seconds, the triple click takes you back to the beginning of the current track.

Hear the Name of the Current Song and Artist

Click and hold the center button until the Shuffle announces the name. The status light blinks green once.

Move Between Playlists

This is probably the trickiest thing to do on this Shuffle model. If you've synced multiple playlists to your Shuffle, you can change the one you're listening to. To do this, click and hold the center button, and keep holding even after you hear the name of the artist and song. When a tone plays, you can let go of the button. You'll hear the name of the current playlist and its contents. Click the volume up or down buttons to move through your list of playlists. When you hear the name of the playlist you want to select, click the center button once.

Leave the Playlist Menu

After following the previous instructions to access the playlist menu, click the center button and hold it. The status light blinks green once.

How to Control Other iPod Shuffle Models

The third-generation iPod Shuffle is the only Shuffle model that is controlled only by a remote on the headphones. Reaction to this model was generally lukewarm, so Apple re-introduced the traditional button-wheel interface to the 4th generation model. No tricks to controlling that one.