Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer - The Definitive Guide | iLounge Article


Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer - The Definitive Guide

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Probably the single most frequently-asked question of our editors here at iLounge is “How do I copy music from my iPod back to my computer?”

Although Apple’s iTunes program is very good at keeping a computer-based library synchronized to an iPod automatically, or for manually transferring tracks from your computer’s iTunes library onto your iPod, it provides extremely limited functionality for transferring information in the opposite direction—from your iPod back to your computer.

One of the likely reasons for Apple to have taken such a restrictive approach to this is to combat piracy and thereby maintain good relations with the music labels that are currently selling their content via Apple’s iTunes Store. In reality, however, there are any number of legitimate reasons why a user may want to copy music from their iPod back to their computer, such as recovering from a catastrophic system failure, or easily transferring a large iTunes library over to a new computer.

Unfortunately, with the exception of tracks purchased from the iTunes Store, which we’ll discuss further later in this article, iTunes provides no method for transferring your music and other media content from your iPod back to your computer. It has therefore fallen to third-party developers to pick up where iTunes left off in this regard, and there are today a number of very robust and full-featured utilities that will do everything from basic copying of media content back to your hard drive all the way through to rebuilding your entire iTunes library using the information on your iPod, complete with playlists, ratings, and play count information.

In this tutorial, we will begin with a background on how music is stored on the iPod in the first place, and then look at the options available for copying music and other media files from the iPod back to your computer, both on an individual basis and en masse for a complete disaster-recovery scenario.

It should be noted that the information in this article applies to all past and current models of iPod, including the iPod nano, iPod mini, the iPod shuffle, and now even the iPod touch and iPhone. However, there is no guarantee that future generations of iPod will continue to support these methods. Further, this information does not apply to content stored on the Apple TV, since despite its integration with iTunes, a different synchronization technology is used for this device and there are presently no methods to recover content from the Apple TV without hacking into or physically disassembling the unit.

Under the Hood—How Content is stored on the iPod

Before we get into the details of how to copy media content from the iPod back to your computer, it’s important to begin with a discussion of how that content is actually stored on the iPod. An understanding of how the iPod stores its content will make it more clear as to what the various recovery or copying options actually do, and help decide on what the best option is for a particular situation.

Unlike many other portable media players, the iPod stores its content using a database methodology. iTunes copies the content itself to a hidden directory structure on the iPod and then updates a database stored on the iPod. It is this database that is used both by iTunes and the iPod interface itself to index and catalog the content that is stored on the iPod.


For the most part, this database information is gleaned from the internal header tags within the media files themselves, in much the same way that iTunes indexes and catalogs your media library. Information such as the track name, artist, album, genre, and a myriad of other information that you can find for each track in iTunes is actually stored in each file, and the name of the file has no bearing on what iTunes or the iPod sees or how it catalogs any given media file. In fact, the only time the file name is ever used by iTunes is if the tags themselves are not present (or if the file format does not support tags, such as with WAV files).

The iPod database also contains additional information about your music that is not normally stored within the tracks themselves. This includes your playlists and the listing of their content, as well as track metadata such as rating, play count, last played time, skip count, last skipped time, and more.

This particular means of storing information on the iPod has both advantages and disadvantages. The major advantage to this approach is that music is catalogued in such a way that it is easily and rapidly accessible from the various menus on the iPod itself, without having to search through individual track information or build a separate cache. The disadvantage is that the music must be tagged properly in order for this to work, and of course this obscures the actual layout of the music files themselves, making it more difficult to find and copy specific tracks from the iPod back to the computer.

Fortunately, a number of third-party utilities have been developed that can read these iPod databases directly, and use them to not only locate specific tracks to recover, but in some cases even recover playlists and other additional metadata such as rating and play count.

On the iPod itself, all of the internal iPod information is located in a hidden folder called iPod_Control. Most of the information in this folder pertains to internal iPod operations, such as device configuration and settings and the library database described above. However, beneath this iPod_Control folder is a Music folder that contains all of the individual audio and video files that are stored on that particular iPod. The only information not stored here is photos, which we will discuss separately later in this article.

The files in the Music folder won’t necessarily be organized in any meaningful way for a human, since they are expected to be accessed via the iPod’s library database, which contains all of the information and other metadata for each track cross-referenced with the location of these individual files.

The times they are a-changin’—The 2007 iPod models, the iPhone and the iPod touch

Traditionally, as far as your operating system is concerned, the iPod has simply appeared to your computer as a removable storage device—basically an external hard drive. In fact, iTunes itself basically just accesses traditional iPod models in much the same way—media files are copied to the device as an external hard drive, and iTunes simply accesses the iPod’s database directly and updates the information contained in it using normal file access methods.


Essentially, the traditional iPod models are “dumb” devices when it comes to synchronization with iTunes. The device itself doesn’t “participate” in the synchronization process… iTunes itself does all the work, and the iPod just sits there connected as an external hard drive. When the sync is finished and the iPod is ejected, it returns to normal use, and since iTunes has updated the iPod’s database, any new tracks that have been added will appear in the appropriate places.

This method allowed early iPods to work quite effectively without requiring complicated technology, but it had the obvious disadvantage that since the iPod wasn’t involved in the synchronization process, any failure on the part of iTunes to properly update the iPod’s database would lead to odd and inconsistent behaviour. This was most commonly observed when disconnecting the iPod prior to an iTunes sync being completed—iTunes wouldn’t be able to update the database, and since the iPod itself didn’t know what was going on, it would be left with an inconsistent or incomplete database of track information.

The iPod classic and iPod nano (video) released in September 2007 retained this same approach to synchronization with iTunes, but added an extra “checksum” in the iPod database to help ensure that it would be left in a more consistent state in the event of a problem occurring during synchronization with iTunes. Unfortunately, these changes broke compatibility with a number of third-party iPod management applications, since they needed to update the checksum when updating content on the iPod. There were some rumours at that time was that Apple had added “encryption” to the iPod database to deliberately break third-party applications. However, there is no truth to these rumours, and in fact applications that simply read the iPod database (such as many of those we will discuss further on in this tutorial) have been mostly unaffected by these changes. From an iPod recovery point of view, there are no significant differences between the 2007 traditional iPod models (iPod classic and iPod nano (video) ) and previous generations.

On the other hand, the iPod touch and iPhone introduced a completely new synchronization protocol for communicating with iTunes. Since these devices are running an OS X based operating system much like a computer, they no longer have to be passive targets for iTunes, but can participate in the synchronization process.  With the iPod touch and iPhone, iTunes essentially hands the information off to the device for processing, and the device updates its own database. This ensures proper database integrity in the event that a problem occurs during synchronization, since the operating system on the iPod touch or iPhone can ensure that the database has been properly updated, even if the device is pulled from the cradle in the middle of a sync. This in fact was an important feature for the iPhone—the ability to pull the device to answer a call if it rings while syncing with iTunes.


The result of these changes on the iPod touch and the iPhone are that most of the traditional methods for recovering content will not work.  Fortunately, many software developers have stepped in to fill this void as well, and in the past few months several existing applications have been updated and a few new ones released specifically to handle recovering content from iPod touch and iPhone.

Disaster Recovery

So you have a nice big 160GB iPod with your entire media library loaded onto it, synchronizing automatically with your iTunes library, when suddenly the unthinkable happens… Your computer’s hard drive decides that it’s been spinning for long enough, and gives up on you.

You now suddenly find yourself in the position where your only copy of your music library is on your iPod itself, and you need to get those tracks back off the iPod onto your computer, so you can rebuild your iTunes library.

In a situation where you’ve been using automatic synchronization with your iTunes library, and you suddenly find you no longer have an iTunes library to sync with, there are a couple of additional considerations that are important to keep in mind.

Automatic iPod synchronization from iTunes is, for the most part, a one-way experience. Some information does come back in the other direction, such as ratings and play counts, but the bottom line is that iTunes considers the library on your computer to be “authoritative”—meaning that the iPod mirrors the iTunes library, rather than the other way around.

The unfortunate downside to this is that if you have an empty iTunes library on your computer, an iPod that is automatically syncing to it will happily mirror the content of your empty library. In other words, everything on the iPod will be deleted and replaced with, well… nothing.

The good news, however, is that this is only really a problem if you’re actually using the same library as you were syncing with before. iTunes is intelligent enough to notice when an iPod that you connect was previously associated to a different iTunes library database, and prompt you with a warning as to what you want to do next:


If you are trying to recover your music from your iPod, you obviously do


want to select Erase and Sync. Simply click Cancel instead, and your iPod will remain connected to your computer, but the auto-sync process will not run.

So what about those situations where you are connecting your iPod to your existing iTunes library? For example if you accidentally deleted a few tracks from your main iTunes library that you want to recover from your iPod. In this case, the iTunes automatic sync will run without notification since it’s the same library database. Fortunately, iTunes offers a solution for this as well:  Simply hold down the SHIFT+CTRL keys (on Windows) or CMD+OPT keys (on a Mac) while you are connecting your iPod to your computer. Keep holding these keys down until your actually see your iPod show up in the iTunes source list.  This will prevent iTunes from running any kind of automatic sync when it detects the iPod, but the iPod will again remain connected and ready to work with.

Swinging Both Ways…

Keep in mind that if you’re planning to use the features described in this article to use your iPod to transfer music between a Mac and a PC, your iPod itself needs to either be Windows-formatted so that both your Mac and PC can access it, or you will need to use a program like MediaFour’s MacDrive to allow you to read your Mac-formatted iPod under Windows.

Note that this is not an issue with the iPod touch or the iPhone. These devices are not accessed as an external hard drive (see above), and the format therefore doesn’t matter. Under the hood, they’re always Mac formatted, since they’re running OS X.

Next Page: Transferring Purchased Content and Copying Manually from the iPod….

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Here is another well-featured and more important free product : Floola (

Posted by romzzz on July 10, 2007 at 4:58 PM (CDT)


My favorite is iPodDisk.  It mounts the ipod like a drive with all the albums and artists.  By far the best in my opinion

Posted by brmac on July 10, 2007 at 6:20 PM (CDT)


Holy moly, what an awesome article!
Haven’t even yet completely read it, but i’m sure it’s gonna be worth it.

Too bad it didn’t come two weeks earlier, when i myself had to rebuild my iTunes DB from my iPod as my external HDD was dead.
I successfully rebuilt the complete DB using SharePod, a MP3 Tagger and loads of time ;)

Posted by Manuel Grabowski on July 11, 2007 at 7:32 AM (CDT)


iPodDisk is for Mac.

On PC, your best bet is CopyTrans as it does not only copy your songs to your computer but also all useful data such as ratings, playlists and imports all that to iTunes.

Posted by Bob1234567890 on July 12, 2007 at 10:19 AM (CDT)


Very good article!

I was wondering why XPlay and Anapod Explorer were not rated or mentioned?

Posted by melanchete on July 15, 2007 at 7:01 AM (CDT)


Although they are both excellent tools in and of themselves, XPlay and Anapod Explorer are designed as full iPod management tools to replace iTunes, and are therefore somewhat beyond the scope of this article.

Although Yamipod also provides this type of functionality, it was included due to its wide cross-platform support and its free availability.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on July 15, 2007 at 12:39 PM (CDT)


I’ve recently transferred my itunes music files to an external HD & have also uninstalled & reinstalled itunes. itunes can access my songs but has wiped all of the playlists, playcounts etc. I was thinking of downloading copytrans to sort this out, but is it possible to use this just to update playlists etc. or will i have to copy all of my music files & then delete the originals? Thanks for your help!

Posted by aaaaaaaaandy on July 18, 2007 at 7:12 PM (CDT)


My hard drive died and I am in desperate need of this article.  It is not clear to me whether or not any of the software included in the article will allow you to recover videos, pictures, tv shows and games that are currently on my 30g ipod.  Please help!

Posted by Middie on July 26, 2007 at 12:21 AM (CDT)


I get the following error when using CopyTrans. All my songs/artists/playlists show on the screen and I desperately need to copy the contents of my iPod to my itunes…ideas anyone?

System Error: 0002 ERROR_FILE_NOT_FOUND
CopyTrans Error: Source song not found on iPod.

Posted by outghost on July 27, 2007 at 12:21 PM (CDT)


My iTunes doesnt have an “add to library” option. It has both “Add to Library from File” and “Add to Library from Folder”. I use iTunes 7. When I try to use the “Add from Folder” option, I get to the Ipod_Control folder and I can not go any further into it to get to the Music folder. Any ideas? Right now I’m going in to that folder from My Computer and copying all the folders into my iTunes Music folder and copying them in one folder at a time and its taking forever!!! Thanks.

Posted by givemenoise on July 30, 2007 at 11:11 PM (CDT)


ok, my problem is that i’m going to be moving to california in a month or so. I can take my Ipod with me but the computer is my mothers. My uncle will have a computer and I may get a laptop. I’m wondering how I can transfer my library to a different computer.

Posted by Ronaldbbbb on August 2, 2007 at 3:03 PM (CDT)


Hi, good article but having some small problems.

Managed to get into my ipod’s music folder, which then had a 49 F folders (ie F00 to F49) inside of which are all the music files.

Problem: my itunes is now empty. I tried ‘File Add Folder to Library’ and itunes does nothing?

I picked the entire music folder first, then tried individual F folders, and still nothing happened.

I tried this both on the copy I took of my ipod (to safeguard it in case something happened when I connected to an empty itunes and lost everything!) and also to the actual files on my ipod…

Any ideas?

Thanks - Pete

Posted by petemw2506 on August 6, 2007 at 11:58 AM (CDT)


Have you done any reviews on CopyGear for Mac OS X?  I am wondering if this is the way to go for my new MacBook.  Thanks - Jon

Posted by iJoni on August 7, 2007 at 8:59 PM (CDT)


Also if you have any review on iRepoX.  Thanks - Jon

Posted by iJoni on August 7, 2007 at 9:28 PM (CDT)


I used ipod access to transfer my music from ipod to my laptop.  Now I get an error message stating the majority of songs could not be used because the original file could not be found.  Can I utilize this material?

Posted by scalpeldoc on August 8, 2007 at 11:11 AM (CDT)


my friend just bought an ipod and wants to transfer the music from my ipod to his pc. what software does he need? we have pc’s

Posted by lazysalvadorean on August 14, 2007 at 4:55 AM (CDT)


I have never bonded my video ipod to any machine let alone my own macbook but now i want to back up the audio files I have on the Ipod but am afraid they will get wiped when I bond my ipod to the macbook, has anyone any ideas?

Posted by anthonycronin1 on August 15, 2007 at 12:56 PM (CDT)


Great article! Though I didn’t make time to read it all, I don’t recall seeing any mention of having to remove the hidden attribute from the Music folder prior to trying the “Add folder to Library…” step? For iTunes 7 anyway, it wouldn’t import it with the folder properties hidden attribute set (used the Windows folder method because I don’t trust other software much).

Does anyone else think that it’s a pretty pathetic attempt to combat music/software piracy by simply using hidden folders?!?  HA! What a joke…though I laugh now, I won’t be surprised if upcoming iTunes releases start using some sort of nasty algorithms or encryption. It’ll just make it harder to crack and extract.

Again, great article, a real lifesaver!

Posted by gimmie5 on August 19, 2007 at 3:08 PM (CDT)


FYI, for those of you who are trying the “brute-force method” of copying your media files back manually, I found that you have to make sure the folder that contains your music (the iPod_control/music folder in this article) is not a Hidden Folder.  If it is, iTunes will not allow you to “Add Folder to Library.”  If you right click on the folder (even in your iPod), and select Properties, you can uncheck Hidden as a property and then it should work fine.  I just successfully got my entire library back!

Posted by waterguard on August 20, 2007 at 6:09 PM (CDT)


Thanks JDH - this article saved me untold hours of reloading my iTunes with 150 CDs and 20 DVDs!

I have a problem still - iTunes Video library does not recognize the 20 movie files that were copied over from the iPod. I asked CopyTrans to copy ALL files and I found the movie files in the iPod Music folder.

I’d appreciate your insights on how to fix this.



Posted by JCPA on August 27, 2007 at 3:09 PM (CDT)


My Ipod is formatted for Windows because all my music is on there, but I’m going abroad soon and only taking my laptop which is a mac.  I want to move all the files on my laptop over so I can re-format it. 

Will Ipoddisk work for that?  Or will it only read mac formatted Ipods?

Posted by kpleary on September 4, 2007 at 4:50 PM (CDT)


*I want to move all the files on my Ipod over to the mac.*

Posted by kpleary on September 4, 2007 at 4:51 PM (CDT)


Last step…
I was able to see all my music files and then when I went to do the final step in Itunes - Add to Library… Itunes could not see the files…so deflated.
I was able to transfer them to my desktop and then tried again… still itunes can not see the files? What is the trick to finally and safely bring my music into the library? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by al*c*a on October 10, 2007 at 8:50 PM (CDT)


My Ipod was formatted using Mac.
The Mac is no longer and I want to transfer my Ipod data base onto my Windows/XP desk top.  I can seem to find where any of the software listed with allow you to transfer Mac data over to a Windows system.  Can anyone advise?  Thanks!

Posted by HeyMsDarla on October 13, 2007 at 5:11 PM (CDT)


Great software, last pc completely crashed and the only copy of my tunes were in the ipod, now they are back in my itunes on my new pc. Well reccomended.

Posted by christiebhoy on October 21, 2007 at 6:27 AM (CDT)


Thanks so much.  Your article and especially the step-by-step instructions on how to salvage a hard drive crash (no backup of my music files)was a lifesaver!  I was able to successfully export all my music from the iPod to my new hard drive, immediately backed up the music files to an external drive, then allowed iTunes to “erase and sync” the new library with confidence.

As noted by a couple of earlier posters, don’t forget to “unhide” the iPod Control folder(s) or the files will not copy over using the listed procedure.

Posted by mhowie on October 21, 2007 at 10:48 AM (CDT)


As posted before by al*c*a, I also followed the instructions exactly and although I could see the hidden folders through Finder, iTunes could not see them.  The instructions to select File, Add to Library through iTunes does not work.

You guys need to update your guide.  Please do, we need your help!  :)

Posted by skadiwolf on November 4, 2007 at 10:42 AM (CST)


It seems that the iPod / iTunes tools mentioned do not work in iTunes 7.5 to copy AudioBook files from iPod to iTunes.  The File/Add Folder to Libarary function and the Transfer Purchases function both act as NoOps if the only content on the iPod is AudioBooks which were imported as .m4b type files.  If anyone has ideas about recovering such files to my PC, I’d like to hear them.

Posted by dvhirst on November 27, 2007 at 5:20 PM (CST)


I thought i’d recommend another progra for your ‘Third-Party Software’ list.

iDump -

I’ve been using it for about a year now, and everytime I format my computer, I use iDump to get all my songs back from my iPod. I even use it to give some of my songs to my friends. It’s free and works great. You should consider adding it to your list.

Posted by nematzz on December 20, 2007 at 12:03 AM (CST)


My Ipod/Itunes is using windows XP. When I try and connect my Girlfriend’s Ipod to download my music (not purchased) on Itunes to her Ipod Nano, Her Ipod Nano does not show up in Itunes, even after reset?
Please help.
thank you

Posted by jptravels4fun on December 22, 2007 at 5:47 AM (CST)


Fantastic article!

U made me and my nano friends.

Thanks…to an angle in disguise

Posted by Nano_K on December 23, 2007 at 2:27 PM (CST)


I could not enable disk use from the new i-tunes version…do you think apple has disabled this feature!!!

Posted by mu on December 30, 2007 at 8:51 AM (CST)


I wonder what the drawbacks are to the method I used when I changed computers - prior to getting rid of my old computer, I saved the entire iTunes file from my hard drive onto a external hard drive.  Then, after downloading iTunes on the new computer and authorizing it using my account, I simply replaced the iTunes folder on the new computer with the one from the external drive.  The only difficulty I had was with music that I did not purchase through iTunes - for these I created a separate file and used the import feature in iTunes; I had to delete the ones that wouldn’t sync with the iPod with the ones that synced with the new folder.

Am I missing something??  Seems like all the complicated steps of transferring music are not necessary….someone who is more tech-literate than I please help if I am setting myself up for a disaster later on.

Happy New Year…

Posted by Consigliere on January 2, 2008 at 4:43 PM (CST)


hi, i managed to transfer my music from ipod to pc using the ‘brute force’ method, adding the ipod music file to the library and copying files to my itunes music folder as i did so. It worked fine, except that only about half the songs have transferred across. There doesn’t seem to be any rationale behind which songs have transferred - even within individual albums some songs have appeared and some have not, so i don’t think it can be to do with formats.

Any ideas why this might have happened and what I can do about it?

Posted by Theopeterson on January 2, 2008 at 5:56 PM (CST)


Great article!!

My question is… i have a pc formatted ipod mini and need to transfer the songs onto a new mac. (obviously i do not have access to my old itunes on my pc)  What software is best to use??  i am not a very computer savvy person.  please help!!

Posted by okniruzd on January 9, 2008 at 9:32 PM (CST)


If you are trying to recover your music from your iPod, you obviously do not want to select Erase and Sync. Simply click Cancel instead, and your iPod will remain connected to your computer, but the auto-sync process will not run.

I tried this and I can’t ‘see’ the iPOd in My Computer. When I try to run the recovery programme - SharePod it doesn’t find the iPOD. Can anybody help?

Posted by John Gerard on January 13, 2008 at 9:47 AM (CST)


I manually installed the music from my ipod to my pc using your instructions and now all of my songs are coming up “original file could not be found”. What did I do wrong and how do I fix this? The only way I can play the songs on my pc is if I have my ipod connected as a disk. The only way I can see to fix it is by selecting one by one “convert selection to AAC” and even some songs are not able to do it. I hate itunes. -_- If I had actually paid for my ipod (it was a gift) I’d want a full refund for the headache it’s been.

Posted by HeatherWillson on January 17, 2008 at 7:40 PM (CST)


heather, I think you need to redo whatever you did to get your music from ipod to pc - except this time:

go to edit, click preferences. Then on the advanced tab, make sure the “Copy files to iTunes Music Folder when adding to library” is ticked.

Then redo what you did, and the files should store in your library folder, and will play on your pc.

Right now, either you have changed the location of the library, and iTunes does not know where the songs are, or they haven’t been copied at all (more probable).

Posted by o.m.w on January 20, 2008 at 3:58 PM (CST)


Is it possible to get ipod games of your ipod and onto your computer thanks

Posted by preliveson on February 2, 2008 at 2:03 PM (CST)


thankyou for that. i switched my computer on this morning to find that everything i owned had gone without a trace. im not ashamed to say i was almost in tears and was ready to re-download all of my 300 songs and movies etc, so this what a big big help.:D I did however loose my movies and tv shows etc and songs that werent on my ipod but im glad that i at least got the majority of my music back

Posted by jackie0hh on February 11, 2008 at 5:50 AM (CST)


I recently tried the Brute-Force Approach, and I couldn’t get the whole folder to transfer.  I can only transfer 1 file at a time.  This will take too long as I have several thousand to transfer.  I was able to move the f01, f02, etc folders on my hard drive music folder, but they do no appear as songs on my iTunes.  Any suggestions?

Posted by Zeketradamus on February 29, 2008 at 1:59 AM (CST)


Can anyone give me a free program to do it on an ipod touch please?

Posted by haggarddie on April 11, 2008 at 8:42 PM (CDT)


Great article. It was really helpful. However, I’m having a few problems, maybe someone can help?

I tried a bunch of programs (like the ones listed in the article), but they didn’t work. I really want to get one of my playlists on my computer too (and other stuff like the last time played), so I finally just ended up buying CopyTrans, which seemed like a really good program. When I run it though, only some of the songs were transfer. Also, sometimes it will say the iPod’s no longer connected halfway through even though it’s still connected (and it’s in Disk mode). I emailed CopyTrans and they said there were probably errors on my iPod and I had to buy another program that would fix all the errors, but it’s $40 and I’m not willing to pay that much on something I don’t even know will work.

I’m sure there’s a program that’s free that can fix errors? Any ideas? Or suggestions for other good programs that work?

Btw, I tried manually moving my music, but that doesn’t work either and the iPod doesn’t stay “connected”. Thanks for any help!

Posted by fivergirl on April 13, 2008 at 1:21 PM (CDT)


THANK YOU!!!! This article was incredibly helpful… especially the pictures;) I have an 80g iPod, and got a new laptop… before I read this article, I was trying to transfer my library from my pc to the laptop with an external hard drive without success. I was able to use the “brute-force method” and after reading every portion of the article and the comments and questions left here by other users, I was able to recover my entire library straight from my iPod.
There were a few small details like the “hidden file” selection in comment #19 that were totally key. Once I saw that, I realized how to get my music to finally play without having to leave the iPod plugged into the computer. Before that I could see my list, but nothing would play without the two being connected. Yay!!

Posted by snazzybettie on April 26, 2008 at 9:36 PM (CDT)


I just got my first 160 Gig I-pod I love it but my friend loaded it all up for me with his music. I am looking for a recomendation on what softward application to use to back up everything on my external hard drive as well as manage all my none I-tune purchases music. Please help.

Posted by Croket on May 2, 2008 at 9:42 AM (CDT)


On Leopard (10.5.2), did the terminal command to “unhide” the files, could see them in Finder, but not in iTunes.  Tried various approaches from creating alias links, etc - no luck.  Can’t import directly from the iPod until I resolve.  Any help (updated guide perhaps?) would be greatly appreciated.


Posted by Floatbag on May 5, 2008 at 3:15 PM (CDT)


I tried the “Brute Force Method” and when i get to the Add to Library option, the hidden folders on my iPod remain hidden (as in, the iPod_control). I did the command through the Terminal, and the folders show up when I’m viewing them in Finder, but not through iTunes. Help!

Posted by sirallanv on May 5, 2008 at 8:36 PM (CDT)


I have a Touch ipod. I deleted all my albums. I clicked ‘Manage Manually’ box before I deleted everything. When I connect my ipod, my music is still there. I need it back to my itunes. Help please.

Posted by Jacie on May 7, 2008 at 4:48 AM (CDT)


Thanks for this guide. I downloaded Senuti 0.50.1 but that didn’t work, it left me on “Insert your iPod” screen. After fumbling with that, I searched and found a 0.50.2 version. It worked pretty well (It couldn’t recover 1 album, but no problem.) It did recover the rest of my 181 albums though. I’m not sure how long it took, as I wasn’t really expecting it to work, but surely under 1 hour.
Again, thanks for the guide, if it weren’t for it, I wouldn’t have discovered Senuti… (I’ve been searching the whole day and don’t remember hearing Senuti being mentioned) Well, it’s 3:30am, now I can rest. LOL

Posted by Jacie on May 7, 2008 at 6:28 AM (CDT)


note: i couldn’t add folder from my ipod directly… i had to copy the folder to my harddrive, and then change that folder (and subdirectories and files) to NOT be hidden [use file>properties], then I could add folder in itunes.

Posted by UPDATE instructions on May 7, 2008 at 10:53 AM (CDT)


I think the best software to retrieve ipod data is TuneAid (  Mac and PC and iPhone and Touch supported

Posted by lazy on May 9, 2008 at 6:05 AM (CDT)


This is great. However there are a few more things I had to do to get this transfer done.

1. Copy & Paste the Music folder from the Ipod over to another location on the new computer

2. Right click newly copie Music folder and choose Properties, uncheck box for Hidden File. This unhides the file! Itunes will not copy a hiddlen folder to it’s library.

I guess the real point here is you not only have to choose “view Hidden files” you also have to go into the folder’s properties and unselect “hidden file”

Posted by libby on May 11, 2008 at 5:28 PM (CDT)


If you are using a pc, copying files from ipod to pc is SIMPLE. Open the ipod from your list of drives. You’ll probably see 3 folders because the one with your music is hidden. Go to TOOLS, folder options and view tab. Select show hidden folders.
Copy those folders to another folder and import that folder into Itunes. I don’t know why anyone would use software to do this. It’s pretty simple.

Posted by mo on May 14, 2008 at 12:51 PM (CDT)


Great article, thanks. I’d love to see a similar one for Podcast (receiving) software. iTunes just seems so limited.

Posted by iPhoner on May 14, 2008 at 2:47 PM (CDT)


Back in January (‘08) my system crashed and I had to run a recovery on my pc.  After finding this article I put the process of transferring the music from my ipod back on to my computer off for three months because this guide seemed so long and stated that the manual process was “involved”.
But, just to piggyback on mo’s post on May 14 - The article is great and I am glad I now know how the ‘innerds’ of my ipod work but, I feel like I had to read through too much just to get to literally the 3 - 4 simple steps of the “brute-force method”.  Software is DEFINITELY not necessary.

Posted by Princess on May 15, 2008 at 5:21 PM (CDT)


I tried several solutions.  On my XP box with iTunes 7, I just used iDump.  Worked like a charm first time.  FREE!!!  Rockin’ good.

Posted by iWasPizzedOffUntilNow on May 15, 2008 at 7:15 PM (CDT)


Quote: “Software is DEFINITELY not necessary.”

Thanks for your feedback, but as with anything there are pros and cons to each method, and it’s important to understand that this third-party software does exist for a reason, since it fills certain gaps.

Software is not strictly necessary if you’re just concerned about getting all of your content back in a full-recovery scenario.

However, this method will not retrieve any of your other library database information such as ratings, playlists, or play counts. Further,  the direct approach is not particularly useful if you only want to retrieve specific files from your iPod on an as-needed basis, since the files are not organized in such a way that you’d easily be able to find them by anything other than track name.  Retrieving all of the tracks from a specific album for example, would be difficult without the use of third-party software that can read the iPod database and identify these files.

Note that the direct approach also requires that you have a reasonable degree of comfort working with your computer, which many iPod users do not.  Ironically, it’s more cumbersome on a Mac, since more steps are required to get access to hidden files and folders.

For users who don’t care about this extra metadata and have enough of an understanding of file-systems and how to access hidden files to be comfortable with it, the manual (“brute force”) method is the most straightforward solution if all you care about is doing a full recovery and getting your content back.

For many people, however, the other information like playlists and content ratings is equally important.  Third-party software is required to recover this information.

Also keep in mind that this only works for the traditional iPod models.  The iPhone and iPod touch will most definitely require third-party software for the average user, however, since even if you’ve “jailbroken” your iPod touch or iPhone, you still do not have access to it through “Disk Mode” and have to rely on other tools such as an SFTP client.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on May 16, 2008 at 7:12 AM (CDT)


It is actually quite simple to get your iPod contents back onto your computer in the event of a hard drive failure or purchasing a new computer and it seems to go unnoticed by even the most savvy users.

1.) Link your iPod to a computer (don’t allow it to sync)

2.) Open the iPod from MyComputer (PC Users)

3.) Enable the ability to see hidden files and folders (Tools—>Folder options—>View (tab)—>Show hidden files and folders (Radio button)

4.) Copy the hidden folder on your iPod to your hard drive, now all of the media contents are on your computer, ( Note: Make sure once you copy the folder from your iPod to your computer you select the highest level folder and right click and unhide the folder and all of its contents) now it just a matter of sorting it out and adding it your computer. The easiest way to do this is to open the top folder (Containing all of the F## folders that the music is stored in) and do a file find to that specific folder (Ctrl+F) in the search filed use the term *.mp3 or *.mp4 (or *.___ whatever the extensions/file type you are looking for, in my case I limit all my music files to mp3’s so its easier to search.) By using the * before the .ext you will search for all of the file types with that particular extension contained in the folders. Once the search has completed do a select all and the a Cut and past into a new single folder. Add that folder to your iTunes library and you are back up and running on a new machine…..simple…and free, no software is needed and it takes about 15 minutes, even with the 160 gb iPod…..Enjoy.

If you are looking for specific songs or albums or artists you can easily manage this as well (in response to other posts) if you elect to view the files in your folder in the “detail method” and then right click at the top of the folder where the different categories are you will be able to add the ability to sort by artist, album, etc. as long as the files were given the proper tagging in your iTunes library, all of that information that allows iTunes to sort your music is carried on the mp3 file itself and will then carry to your new iTunes library on a new machine.

Posted by NoNeedForSoftware on May 18, 2008 at 8:25 AM (CDT)


So, you don’t need a software ? But how do you retrieve the ipod library data ?  To retrieve all data like playlists, ratings, playcounts etc you need a software. Your technique can retrieve only tracks but looses all others data. Personnaly I TuneAid.

Posted by To No NeedForSoftware on May 18, 2008 at 11:54 AM (CDT)


ok i transfered everything and it did fine on my new computer. now when i hook up my ipod it only choose 80 of my songs to put on the ipod. it says theres not enough room. .... help

Posted by sidney on May 18, 2008 at 3:32 PM (CDT)


I recently had to buy a new Ipod due to my old one being damaged. I went to my local APPLE store and they have reccommended this site, which I have to say is great, and really useful!
I need to transfer all my existing music/videos from my damaged Ipod onto my new one. I do not have all of these on my Itunes libary, so I used your reccommened third party source of SHAREPOD. This worked well, until I realised that I did actually have some of this music in my Itunes libary, and did not want to duplicate things on my Ipod. I had already managed to move ‘my top rated’ playlist to my Ipod so I did not think it would be much of a problem. I erased everything that was on my Ipod off my libary, and started to use SHAREPOD to move all my music over. I connected my new Ipod and was advised that it wouldn’t work as it had to be updated and would only run using the newest version of Itunes, which I downloaded. I am now not able to move any of my music that I have copied over from my old Ipod,into my Itunes libary, onto my new Ipod. If I try moving it, it displays a white explaniation mark my the name of each track and when I try to drag this to my connected new Ipod and advises me that it cannot be copied as they cannot be found and are not the original copies.
I have just read that sometimes it takes a while for these third party sources to update, but can you please advise if this is the problem?? Are you normally able to copy music files back onto an Ipod even if they are not the original copies??????


Many thanks!

Posted by Dan on May 19, 2008 at 5:23 PM (CDT)


Took me a few times to read and try this but it worked like a charm. Thanks for saving my 500+ songs and gettin gthem back on to my new Hard Drive. Thanks so much for a great article.

Posted by Brian on May 20, 2008 at 8:11 PM (CDT)


I like a number of people on this site have had difficulty with the brute force method once reaching the Add to library stage… has anyone found an answer to that yet?

Posted by newtoamac on May 27, 2008 at 9:24 PM (CDT)


Has anyone tried the Lenogo iPod Touch to PC Transfer software? I found it at

I need to transfer my songs and video from my iPod Touch to my PC running Vista. Will this do the job?

Posted by James Preston on May 28, 2008 at 1:48 PM (CDT)


I have been experiencing the same problem as many posters.  I can follow the “brute force” procedure until the point where you click on “Add Folder To Library” and highlight the “Music” folder.  This is the point where I and many posters got stuck.

What you need to do at this point is right click on on the “Music” folder, and uncheck the “hidden folders” box.  The files magically show up you can then move the files from your iPod to your hard drive.

Thanks to Libby who made this point a few posts back.

Posted by jackson on May 29, 2008 at 9:05 AM (CDT)


how does one right click on the mac wireless mouse??

Posted by newtoamac on May 29, 2008 at 10:29 PM (CDT)


Please disregard my last message.  Have just found the mouse preferences and discovered how to enable right click…  Please excuse me I’m well and truly past the age of being able to switch from PC to Mac with ease!!

Posted by newtoamac on May 29, 2008 at 10:57 PM (CDT)


Wish I’d found this a week ago.

I just paid £20 for Media Widget from bootstrap to retrieve 3.5k tracks from my 2003 G3 model.

I bought it after the helpdesk suggested this would solve the issue of the demo version not working (doh!)

No joy, and after 3 attempts at helping they’ve gone radio silent for 5 days.

Bang goes £20

Hope the article above helps or I’m down to ripping 350 CD’s again.

Posted by Paul on May 30, 2008 at 11:38 AM (CDT)


I have a 5th gen ipod with approx 2,000 photos, my computer has had the original photos erased. my only copies are on the ipod, is there anyway of transfering from ipod to computer

Posted by nigel cook on June 2, 2008 at 7:36 PM (CDT)


this article was helpful, but my problem is two-fold.  i just bought a mac that i am trying to restore the musc on my pc-formatted ipod to.  i understand the programs that open up the ipod for copying, but havent come across anything that solves the difference in formatting issue.

any suggestions?

Posted by andrew on June 3, 2008 at 2:40 AM (CDT)


@nigel: Page 4 of this article talks about tools that can retrieve photos from the iPod back to your computer. Keep in mind, however, that unless you’ve stored the full resolution photos in the first place, the copies you’re going to get back will very likely be a lower resolution than the originals. How low will depend on your model of iPod, with the older 1G/2G iPod nano being the worst, and the 5G iPod or iPod classic being the best.  Best-case scenario, however, is still only going to yield pictures in the 720x480 range or thereabouts.  It’s better than nothing, but definitely not a substitute for a proper backup of your photos.

@andrew: If you’re going from a PC to a Mac, there should not be any formatting issues. A Mac can read a PC-formatted iPod without any problems, so just treat the iPod as if it were Mac-formatted and otherwise follow the information in this article.  The formatting problem only exists when going from a Mac to a PC, since Windows cannot read a Mac-formatted iPod without the help of third-party software.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on June 3, 2008 at 8:46 AM (CDT)


here is a prob i had and i figured it out myself:

i imported ipod_control just fine, but the files were read-only and would not ad onto the library. whe you want to add, go to add folder, preferences, and uncheckthe read only and they will all copy.

Posted by jessica roberts on June 3, 2008 at 11:52 PM (CDT)


So, I tried the brute force method, but realised that it would probably take forever. Me being computer illiterate, I get the great idea of putting all the small files in F001 etc. into one big folder named ‘All Music’ and then transferring them together. Now the folders are gone, and the contents of the first three original Music folders with them. I know they haven’t disappeared completely because the iPod’s memory is still at the same level. How do I recover them again?

Thanks, guys.

Posted by dude1234 on June 4, 2008 at 6:50 AM (CDT)

39974  this worked great from another post…easy as pie.  Only takes 100 songs at a time to transfer to your pc, but just start it again and i think you can do another 100 or whatever.  I was trying to add songs to my ipod after a windows reinstall and it didn’t work without erasing everything…clearly didn’t wanna lose all my songs on my ipod.  So i copied all my ipod songs to my computer using the link i mentioned.  Then just put everything back on ipod plus the songs i was originally trying to add.

Posted by Michael C on June 7, 2008 at 11:56 AM (CDT)


I really need a program, which can move my pictures from my ipod nano to my computer. I’m running vista. But I can’t find anything, which is free. Some ideas?

Posted by Johanne on June 9, 2008 at 7:11 AM (CDT)


I downloaded ipod rip 3.9.1 for windows and started copying to the i-tunes library when it was done i looked up the copied songs in the i-tunes library but only a few were copied successfully, tried it again and again and noticed that i get a dialogue box stating “this is an aiff file, do you want to copy” which i click yes..apparently any song after that dialogue box does not go to the i-tunes library but only to the hard drive. I exauhsted all 10 free transfers that this software gives you and did not find it a very user friendly one. I bought a 160GB apple ipod and do not know how else to copy songs from my older ipod.what a ripoff this whole thing is. may have to return it now.

Posted by Dani on June 9, 2008 at 8:37 PM (CDT)


How do you get an acount to start with ?
i have itunes ect .. and im trying to put the music from my ipod on the computer as i had a new hard drive installed and only some music was backed up. i want to know how to get an acount or if i already have one how can i find out ?

Posted by Sabrina on June 10, 2008 at 4:26 PM (CDT)


i cant put songs on my ipod ?!
it says it is synced with another itunes but you can usually do it but i had a new itunes installed and i dont want to loose all my music just to sync it to this itunes what do i do ?

Posted by Sabrina on June 10, 2008 at 4:28 PM (CDT)


What does “incorrect perameter” mean? This is what happens when I try to force copy the folder on my Ipod. I cant transfer from the Ipod to the iTunes by the brute force, I tried the EhPod software and that says im out of memory.

Looks like the songs will stay on my Ipod forever!!!!!!!

I hate technology!

Posted by Steve on June 11, 2008 at 3:58 PM (CDT)


I’m trying to take my movies and songs from my IPOD back to my itunes. I tried the “brute force” method, but I only could get the files back to my external drive and not into itunes. So I then purchased Copytrans ...when I started the software it looked like only 1/2 my data was copied and when I went to itunes nothing was there. The Copytrans website did not have any suggestions on my error and there is no support number to contact…did I just waste $$$ and more importantly time???
Can anyone direct me to someone that can support Copytrans?

Posted by jo on June 12, 2008 at 7:19 AM (CDT)


hey i just wanted to say that this was INCREDIBLY helpful! My harddrive crashed like 8 months ago and I’ve had my ipod with my old library and a whole new library but had been scared to sync my ipod for fear of losing the old stuff- long to short, this was easy to follow and helped soo much. i read the entire thing, very well written and essential to my quest for rehabilitating my music libraries!!! it was a relief that i didn’t have to purchase anything and now I really understand how it all works. It’s so nice to have everything in my ipod and my itunes now! thanks so much!

Posted by kayt on June 14, 2008 at 3:40 PM (CDT)


Thank you very much! You have just actually confirmed what I wanted to know. I knew that the older iPods are recognized as hard drives by a PC and so I was able to copy some songs before. Now I have a new iPod 160gb classic and would like to move my songs from my 3rd Gen 20gb to my iPod classic and also into my new computer. I will try this!

Very well written! You rock! ;-)

Posted by Deux on June 20, 2008 at 1:02 PM (CDT)


Just want to join the choir hear and give a hearty, “Jesse David Hollington is my F’ing HERO!!!”

My harddrive bit it a few months ago and I’ve been using a docking speaker system since then in fear of losing the content by synching with my new computer.  I just transfered almost 5,000 songs onto my new computer, and can’t believe how easy it ultimately was. 

One note in case anyone’s having a problem, though:  make sure you change the properties of the “Music” folder to unselect the “Hidden” box.  Itunes couldn’t find the folder to add it to the library until then.


Posted by Enrique on June 20, 2008 at 2:32 PM (CDT)


My new third generation nano won’t load up songs from my windows (XP) PC.  I restore it to factory settings and it will sometimes load more but never full nor consistent…..any help or suggestions what is wrong?  It is only 5 days old so it can still go back to the factory…thanks…

Posted by Graham Rempe on June 21, 2008 at 5:29 PM (CDT)


I know I am not that dumb but I am new to MAC. I am trying to copy my windows formated IPOD to my new MAC. I am using the brute force method and I can see the hidden files on my IPOD. However when I choose File add to library, it is looking for a folder I cannot see the ipod_control/music folder.

Now I know everyone is saying to uncheck a box that says hidden in the properties but that is on windows. I have already exposed the hidden files for MAC right? When I do the file add to library it does nothing, even when I select a folder. It did for some reason copy a bunch of short audio files to my music list on my itunes. Now I have to figure out how to get rid of these. I sure could use some help. I know I am almost there.


Posted by Jerry on June 21, 2008 at 10:06 PM (CDT)


I have been able to access the files in the Ipod_Control file for quite some time but what I have yet to figure out is how to sort through the F files. All of the music is randomly sorted and does not use the name of the song/artist/album for the listing. Instead my PC gives me a random 4 count set of letters. Anyone know how to get around this and how to sort it with the names or the song or artist? I have changed the settings multiple times but I am still not coming up with anything. I get a few names here and there but majority are the 4letter codes. Any suggestions?

Posted by Meigan on June 22, 2008 at 10:12 PM (CDT)


I have tried TuneAid 3.0, works great ! All my library is back to my iTunes :)

Posted by charlie on June 25, 2008 at 6:35 AM (CDT)


I used this program to access a mac formatted ipod on Windows XP SP2.
I wanted to extract the music before reformatting the iPod for Windows use.

What worked for me was:
*Install HFSExplorer 0.19 and use autodetect (control+L) to find the Mac formatted iPod connected via USB (detected as Harddrive1/Partion1)
*Navigate to Ipod_Control/Music folder
*Recreate Ipod_Control/Music folder layout on target drive of your PC (drive F on my WinXP machine)
*Hightlight a folder (ie: FOO) and click extract
*When prompted for location navigated to F:\Ipod_Control\Music - which appeared in the File Name window as well.
*Click OK and viola!  Folder and contents extracted perfectly.

I was confused at first and kept trying to type in a file name on the last step and got errors, but once I just accepted F:\Ipod_Control\Music as the file name, it worked like magic!

It recreated the FOO folder and copied all the contents to it.

Hope this helps someone who might be have otherwise struggled with the documentation as I did at first.

What a wonderful software package. Absolutely Free.

Posted by MacFormattediPod Contents to PC easy and free on June 26, 2008 at 10:51 PM (CDT)


Hi - Hope you can help here and direct me to a thread.

I reformatted my PC and lost the library of songs.  Then synch’d to the shuffle and transfered an empty library to the shuffle.  How can I get back my purchased songs from i-tunes into my PC Hard Drive or library to put back on the shuffle?  Looking foreward to hearing from you.  Best wishes Lance

Posted by Lance Quartermaine on June 27, 2008 at 2:54 AM (CDT)


fab !!

I was starting to dispair !!
But I now have a full library again !!

once you have found all those nasty random codes inside the FOO folders, copy them all to a new folder on your PC, then itunes lets you add this folder back on !

Posted by cjoliii on June 28, 2008 at 3:55 AM (CDT)


Thank you!  My computer crashed and had not backed up music.  I had all my dad’s music on my ipod.  He passed away it is all I have of his.  I was able to get the music back on my mac and now it is backed up.  This article really made my day wonderful.

Posted by Rbrock on June 28, 2008 at 10:39 PM (CDT)


My previous computer was reformatted and i recently got a new laptop. all my files in my previous computer are deleted and now the only copies i have of some of them are in my 80gb ipod classic. it contains pictures, videos and songs. can anyone provide me a step my step way of how i can transfer all the songs, pictures and videos without it being deleted from my ipod? i want to transfer it to my new laptop with of course a new itunes library.but im still afraid that it would sync to the empty library. PLEASE HELP!

Posted by tiffany on July 2, 2008 at 5:04 AM (CDT)


Thanks a lot!  I was able to copy my music from my ‘03 iPod to my iTunes using your advice.  Much obliged!

Posted by Michael Leone on July 3, 2008 at 4:59 PM (CDT)


Does this article apply to vista?

Posted by tiffany on July 10, 2008 at 6:05 AM (CDT)


Thank you so much for taking the time to write this, you’re awesome and now i’m going to upgrade to the classic generation 6!

Posted by ava logan on July 11, 2008 at 1:13 AM (CDT)


my question: it looks like no one asked this, but if I have some copies of music (it’s on my ipod AND in itunes) and I am using the ‘brute-force’ method, will it automatically copy ALL the songs, or will it recognize there are two of the same song?

to maigan: ““Once in the iPod_Control folder, you will see a number of sub-folders, including a Music folder. Despite the name, it is in this folder that all of your audio and video files actually reside…

>>>Unfortunately, you’ll notice that the folder names and even the file names do not in any way represent the specific content.<<<

Fortunately, however, the internal ID3 tags are still intact, so any application that can read these tags can easily sort this back out. In fact, you can take these tracks and simply reimport them directly into iTunes via the File, Add to Library option and it will happily sort them all out for you, even renaming and restructuring them in the process if you have the Keep iTunes Music folder organized setting turned on in your iTunes advanced preferences. “”

Posted by Mari on July 11, 2008 at 9:26 AM (CDT)


If you’re someone like me who hacked thier iPod, the most succesful free program is CopyTrans. Do not settle for anything else!!!

Posted by Chad Colbert on July 11, 2008 at 3:56 PM (CDT)


this article was a lifesaver!!!! pay extra attention to post #19!!!!!!!! you need to go in to the ipod control folder and make your music folder & all of the subfolders inside that folder non-hidden!!! veey veey important!! there is no need to download crap onto all the other crap you have on nyour computer becasue doing this manually is simple and easy and a no-brainer!!! DONT BOTHER DOWNLOADING ANYTHING!! i swear it’s too easy.

Posted by christyjo on July 13, 2008 at 6:43 PM (CDT)


I downloaded Senuti program and it worked perfectly fine, but there is no way to exit out of the program. i wish to delete the program to get it off of my new mac, but i can’t seem to figure that out. HELP!!!!! anyone out there with an answer?!

Posted by Kelly Fishman on July 15, 2008 at 7:07 PM (CDT)


Attention Mac Users: I have a solution! Just like you, I got stuck in the process when hitting “Add to Library.” iTunes wouldn’t read the hidden file folder.  Mac users don’t have the option to remove the hidden feature.  Anyway, follow this: Go into the Music folder and click on each F subfolder (F00, F01, etc.).  The good news is that if you select all, and then hit open (make sure you open the mp3 files with iTunes), iTunes will begin to copy the files, and your music and cover art will be restored to iTunes.  The bad news (I think) is that each file needs to be converted to the AAC format (under the Advanced tab).  It’ll take some people forever to convert the files, but at least you’ll have your music back! Best of luck!

Posted by derek on July 18, 2008 at 8:47 PM (CDT)

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