Q: I ran into a problem with my computer hard drive and had to format the drive. I did not lose my music library, only my iTunes playlists. I was wondering if there is any way for me to get all my playlists off my iPod back into iTunes without having to rebuild all of them again?
A: While recovering music from the iPod is a question that gets frequently asked and is covered in our iPod 201 article, Copying Music from iPod to Computer, recovering playlists requires a slightly different approach.
Playlists are stored only within the iPod’s music index, but can be restored through the use of a third-party tool that can read this index and regenerate this information for you. Two such tools that we have had positive experiences with are CopyPod (Windows only, $19.90 USD, limited trial version available from their web site) and iPodRip (Windows & Mac, $14.95 USD, limited trial version available from their web site). Both of these utilities offer the ability to restore your entire iPod music library, portions thereof, or the “reverse-sync” music and playlists back to your iTunes library.