Transferring Music to iPod Without Using PC Hard Drive | iLounge Article


Transferring Music to iPod Without Using PC Hard Drive

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Q: I have about 50 data CDs full of MP3s.  I want to get an iPod to store all my music, but from what I gather, I can only do that if all of those MP3s are on my computer’s hard drive.  I have a laptop with a small hard drive and have no way of doing this.  Can I bypass this and use my iPod as an external hard drive and play songs off of it through my computer?

- Jon

A: Yes, you can. It’ll take a bit of work, however.

With iTunes, you can manage your music automatically or manually. When you connect the iPod, you can make this choice in the iPod Preferences. If you manage music automatically, then you need to have all your music on your hard disk; iTunes copies your music library to your iPod, making a clone of it.

But if you manage your music manually you do things differently. Instead of having iTunes automatically copy and update all your songs, you drag the songs (or albums, artists, or genres) from the iTunes library to the iPod icon in the iTunes source list.

So, if you copy your MP3 files from a few CDs, add them to your iTunes library, then copy them manually to the iPod, you can then erase them from the iTunes library and from your hard disk. Depending on the size of your hard disk, you may need to do this just a few CDs at a time, but once you have finished this, you’ll have all your music on the iPod.

To play the music from the iPod, launch iTunes, connect the iPod, then select the music you want to play from the iPod’s contents. You can make playlists on the iPod in the same way as you do with iTunes.

Just one thing: you can also store your music on an external hard disk, and allow iTunes to manage it automatically. In that case, you need to connect the hard disk when you want iTunes to sync your music, but given the relatively low cost of hard disks these days, it might be a better solution. If you ever have a problem with the iPod, and need to reset it, you’d have to go through the copy-CD-to-iTunes-then-copy-music-to-iPod procedure all over again.

Kirk McElhearn is the author of several books including iPod & iTunes Garage. His blog, Kirkville features articles about the iPod, iTunes, Mac OS X and much more.

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Q:  I remember reading about a mich better work around to this question..  There is a way to “Burn”  to your HD without having to burn a cd. 

While the answer is correct, I am sure there is a better solution to this qustion. 

Whomever is out there with the soulution. please post the answer to this question.  Most of us know that media is media is media.  Thank you!

>>Q: I have a couple hundred albums in my Musicmatch Library. I just got a new iPod and when I try to drag files from my “My Music” folder to my ITunes library, I receive an error message saying, “The songs being added are in the protected WMA format and can not be converted to AAC format (required by Apple). ITunes can only convert unprotected WMA songs.

Posted by J's on December 30, 2004 at 9:50 PM (CST)


J, there is an easier way, and that is to create a virtual CD. There are a ton of shareware/freeware utilities to help you do just that, Microsoft even makes its own (free tool). You can find it at:

Basically all you do is create a virtual CD. A virtual CD is actually space on your hard drive. The benefit to this is it is accessed much faster than a CD, and, unlike the method outlined above, you won’t have to throw any blanks away. Just rip your WMAs to the virtual CD, then copy off the MP3 or AAC files to your iTunes music folder, throw away the files once copied off your virtual CD, and repeat :)

Posted by Hadley Stern on December 30, 2004 at 10:27 PM (CST)


Hadley,  thank you.  This is much better then the solution I read about.  All I can say is thank god for the internet.

Posted by J's on December 30, 2004 at 10:39 PM (CST)


Hadley,  I thought a little more about the V-CD.  You know as well as I that we could copy our whole proteceted WMP/A collection to our hard disk (as long as one had the hard disk space) it may take some time but you don’t have to be in front of your computer to “burn” it or import them.  A quick import and the collection would be in iTunes. 

If you have question on how to do this I will defere it to Hadley or someone as nice to explain the answer as he/she is much better at explaining the step then I am.  - J


Posted by J's on December 30, 2004 at 11:01 PM (CST)


If you go through the process of doing this, then you transfer them into the iPod, which EQ settings are observed when playing from the iPod?  The ones saved with the song, or the settings on the iPod?


Q: Is it possible to set up the iPod to change the EQ setting automatically according to the genre of music? For instance, if a song with the “rock” genre is playing, can the iPod be configured to automatically set the EQ as rock?

- Daniel

A: No, you can’t do this automatically, but you can set the EQ setting for individual songs. Rather than do this for every song on your iPod individually, here’s a shortcut.

In iTunes, create a smart playlist where the Genre is Rock. Click this playlist to display all the songs it contains. Select all the songs (Ctrl-A on Windows; Command-A on Mac), then display the Info window (Ctrl-I on Windows; Command-I on Mac).

Click the Equalizer Preset menu near the bottom of the Info window and select Rock (or whatever EQ setting you want to use). Click OK to close the window and apply this setting.

The next time you sync your iPod, iTunes will re-copy all those songs with the EQ setting you have chosen. When you play them on the iPod, the EQ will change for whatever songs you have applied EQ settings to. You can repeat this operation for other genres you have in your library.

Naturally, this will only work for songs you already have in your iTunes library; while new songs will get added to the smart playlists, they won’t take on the EQ setting on their own. So you will want to check this playlist from time to time to update new music you add. It is a bit of a hassle, but it does the trick!

Posted by smurff on December 31, 2004 at 9:27 AM (CST)


Q: I have a 4G 20BG iPod with all the latest firmware, and I want to set my iPod into ‘forced firewire’ mode (I have a 6 pin firewire PCI card that doesn’t seem to be giving my ipod any power), so I reset and hold ‘back’ and ‘foward’ during the apple logo. However, this has no effect, and just goes back to my original configuration, without entering forced firewire mode. What can I do to get my iPod to draw power from my firewire card? (I have usb1.1, and on the first day I bought the ipod it seemed to draw power from it, but now it doesn’t draw power from either the usb or firewire)

Posted by *-* Dazed Dude *-* on January 1, 2005 at 9:08 AM (CST)


What does the “Sound Enhancer” do in iTunes?


Posted by dpittenger on January 2, 2005 at 12:25 AM (CST)


How can one create a virtual CD on the Mac onto which one can record/convert protected AAC or audible files as AIFF files? 

Here’s my dilemma.  As you probably know, any iPod can be activated for only 2 audible accounts at any one time. I’ve already got my iPod actived for 2 accounts and want to add books from a third account (yes, all of these are MY accounts). The only way I can see to do this would be to burn the third account’s books to CD (preferably virtual CD) and then import them as mp3s back into iTunes and thence onto my iPod.

It woud be a lot more efficient and less costly to do this burn to CD to a series of virtual CDs instead of to physical CDs but I can’t figure out how to do it.  Is there a way?

Posted by mpet on January 2, 2005 at 12:51 PM (CST)


The problem with the virtual CD solution is that you end up decompressing the original WMA files and recompressing them when you rip them as AAC files (or in another format). This results in a loss of quality; it may be very apparent with some tracks, especially if the original files are highly compressed.

Posted by Kirk McElhearn on January 4, 2005 at 2:03 AM (CST)


Hi, I’m a noob at IPoding and the whole audio genre, but I’m a technical professional so “geek-speak” doesn’t scare me.  That said…

I want to download high-quality music files, archive them in a high quality, non-DRM format and then rip them to whatever resolution and format that makes sense at the time - AAC or MP3 at 128/192/256.

From what I can understand, Apple iTunes music store only offers music in 128Kb AAC.  This is too low for archiving.  RealNetworks uses 196Kb AAC, which seems reasonalbe (but not great) for archiving.  So the first, major question is, when can you download high quality, legal music from?  RealNetworks?  Others?

Thanks and regards,


Posted by Dan_Public on January 4, 2005 at 1:19 PM (CST)


I had a bunch of music on my computer on Ares and then Ares got deleted and all that music got lost i was wondering if theres a way to update mt ipod without losing all my old music that i had on Ares.


Posted by 600041 on January 4, 2005 at 7:08 PM (CST)


Reference Jon’s question above concerning copying MP3 files on CDs to iPOD.  Is it necessary to first drag the files to the library or can you skip that step and drag them directly to the iPOD icon?

Posted by mcman on January 5, 2005 at 11:25 AM (CST)


i just recently got my ipod mini, and i’m a bit of a novice when it comes to using it.  i just have a question related to transferring my current mp3 music library into itunes.  is it just a simple drag file method to transfer my existing music to itunes, or do i have limitations/things to do first before i can do that…my friend uses livewire and is able to transfer them to his itunes, i currently use ares, but move all my music files to a separate music folder in my desktop.  thanks!

Posted by joy. on March 8, 2005 at 12:25 PM (CST)

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