Restoring a deleted playlist in iTunes

Q: Help! I’ve accidentally deleted a very special manual playlist from iTunes. It’d taken me hours and hours to create and meticulously rearrange, but I didn’t back it up on the computer. There is, however, a copy on my iPod still – is there any way to get it back without simply looking at the iPod and manually recreating the list in iTunes?

– Steve

A: Absolutely – don’t worry. If you have chosen to automatically synchronize your music in iTunes, we can exploit one of the iPod’s relatively obscure features for this purpose: On The Go playlists.

Because On The Go playlists that the iPod creates are automatically synchronized back into iTunes upon a synchronization, we can use this feature to automatically rebuild your lost playlist. However it’s important that you don’t synchronize the iPod until doing this procedure, or else iTunes will delete the playlist from it as well.

First, browse on the iPod to “Music → Playlists.” Highlight the playlist you’d like to recover, and hold down the center button until the playlist name flashes, adding the entire contents of this playlist, in order, to a new On The Go playlist. You can verify that this was accomplished by scrolling to the bottom of the iPod’s playlist listing, and opening the “On-The-Go” playlist.

Next, save the On-The-Go playlist on the iPod by scrolling to the bottom, and selecting “Save Playlist.” The iPod will now create “New Playlist 1,” which will synchronize back to the iTunes library automatically the next time you synchronize. Simply rename this playlist in iTunes, and you’ve successfully restored your lost playlist!

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