Extracting files from iTunes

Q: I am looking to copy tracks, videos, and PDF booklets from my iTunes Library to a file on my drive, for manual backups, file transfer, and other uses. I see there are a lot of programs available that will copy from an iPod to hard drive but not from iTunes Library. Any suggestions?

– Michael

A: The reason that there are programs to help users extract songs from an iPod to a computer is that Apple doesn’t necessarily want that to become commonplace, as it’s a facility for mass piracy.

However, the files in your iTunes Library are more necessarily already yours, and Apple hasn’t limited what you can do with them at all. In fact, transferring files out of your iTunes Library is easier than you’d think. To do so, either:

  1. The difficult way: Select the track, video, or PDF booklet you’d like to locate on your hard drive, choose “Get Info” from iTunes’ “Edit” menu, and on the bottom of the “Summary” tab, you’ll find the file’s location on your hard drive. Navigate there in Windows Explorer (PC) or the Finder (Mac), and copy the file to a temporary location for your use.
  2. The easy way: Select the tracks, videos, or PDF booklets you’d like to copy to another location on your hard drive, and simply drag them out of the iTunes library window and drop them onto your desktop or any other folder in Windows Explorer (PC) or the Finder (Mac). iTunes will automatically place copies of the files in this location, and you’re free to use them without fear of harming iTunes’ copy.
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