Importing CDs on MacBook Air

Q: I have recently bought a MacBook Air. However, because my music library from my old Macbook exceeds the MBA memory, I was told by a computer expert to get a 160G iPod classic to hold my music, so I could load new music directly onto the iPod. However, we are running into many problems. Namely, you cannot plug the external optical drive into a hub. It only works when directly connected to the MacBook Air.

Thus I cannot have both devices plugged in. Any suggestions?

– Mark

A: Actually, iTunes does not allow you to directly transfer tracks from CD onto your iPod anyway—they must first be imported into your iTunes library and stored on your local hard drive. If you’re managing the content on your iPod manually, you can of course erase those tracks from your local hard drive as soon as they’ve been transferred to the iPod in order to conserve disk space, but they do need to temporarily be placed on your computer’s hard drive before they can be transferred to your iPod.

With that in mind, the solution is simply to connect the MacBook Air SuperDrive to your computer and rip several CDs onto your local hard drive. You can then disconnect the SuperDrive and connect the iPod and transfer these tracks to the iPod itself.

Ensure the iPod is set to Manually manage music and videos (found on the “Summary” tab for your iPod settings within iTunes) and you can simply drag-and-drop these tracks from your iTunes library onto your iPod.

Once these tracks have been transferred onto your iPod, you can erase them from your local iTunes library simply by deleting them normally. They will remain on your iPod, since you are managing the content manually rather than using automatic synchronization.

Anytime you want to rip any additional CDs to your iPod, simply repeat the above process—importing them to your MacBook Air’s local hard drive (which is where they will go anyway), and then switching the SuperDrive out and connecting your iPod in its place, and then transferring those tracks to your iPod and removing them from your MacBook Air’s local drive.

Note that some will suggest that you could use a traditional iPod as an external hard drive to also store your iTunes library and use automatic synchronization, however this is not recommended, as you’re unnecessarily using up twice the space and twice the USB bandwidth—essentially synchronizing tracks that live on the iPod as disk mode files back onto the iPod as iPod-playable tracks.