Recovering lost iPod serial number


Q: My iPod was stolen and the person I know has it denies it’s mine. I want to prove it is mine by matching the serial number but how can I get my iPod serial number off my computer or from iTunes without plugging in my iPod?

Recovering lost iPod serial number

– Monica

A: The good news is that iTunes does store your iPod’s serial number within its configuration files. While this information is not particularly easy to find, it is certainly possible.

If you’re using a Mac, the fastest way to do this is to open the Mac “Terminal” application and type in the following command and press ENTER:

defaults read | grep Serial

Note that iTunes keeps track of every iPod you’ve ever connected to this computer, so if you have used more than one iPod with this iTunes library, they will all be listed in these results. If you see more than one serial number listed, you may have to go through the preferences in more detail to determine which iPod serial number you’re looking for. In this case, you can issue the following command in Terminal to display the entire contents of the preferences file, one screen at a time:

defaults read | more

This will provide a detailed block of information for each iPod you’ve had connected to your computer, similar to the following:

. .   000A27001BEB2E03 . . .  {
. . . . Connected = 2009-05-14 23:58:17 -0400;
. . . . "Device Class" = iPod;
. . . . "Family ID" = 15;
. . . . "Firmware Version" = 318;
. . . . "Firmware Version String" = "1.0.3";
. . . . "Games Platform ID" = 4;
. . . . "Games Platform Version" = 1;
. . . . Language = "en-US";
. . . . "Serial Number" = XXXXXXXXXXX;
. . . . "Software Version" = 168001536;
. . . . "Updater Family ID" = 31;
. . . . "Use Count" = 223;
. .   };

Information such as the last date the iPod was connected and the number of times you’ve connected it (Use Count) should help you to identify which iPod you’re looking for.

If you’re using Windows, this information is stored in a file named iPodDevices.xml which is stored in the “C:\Documents and Settings\(your user name)\Local Settings\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes” folder. This is a hidden folder, but you can locate this file via the Windows Search tool simply by searching to “iPodDevices” and making sure the option to “Search in Hidden Files and Folders” is selected.


Once you’ve located this file, you should be able to open it in Internet Explorer simply by double-clicking on it. The format is slightly different, but laid out in a similar fashion to that shown above.


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Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.