Q: How do I transfer pictures on my iPod that aren’t from my computer to my own PC?

– Jen

A: Depending on where these pictures came from, and what options were selected when they were synchronized to the iPod, there are a couple of ways to do this.

The simplest and best way is if the Store Full Resolution Photos option was selected when these photos were originally transferred to the iPod. If this is the case, then a full-resolution copy of each picture will have been stored on the iPod alongside the converted ones for iPod display. You can access the full-resolution copies by going to your iPod in “Disk Mode” (via Windows Explorer or Finder) and looking in the \Photos\Full Resolution folder. Your pictures will be organized into sub-folders by Year, Month, and Day.

To access your iPod in Disk Mode, simply ensure that the “Enable disk use” option is select in the iPod “Summary” tab (in iTunes). This will cause your iPod to remain connected after a synchronization finishes, and you should be able to find it listed in Windows Explorer or Finder (Mac). From there you can just browse to it as you would to any other hard disk.

If the “Full Resolution” folder does not exist, then the “Store Full Resolution Photos” option was not selected, and the only versions of the photos you will have to work with are the re-sized versions that were created by iTunes for iPod display.

These images are stored in a proprietary file format, and are converted by iTunes during synchronization to resolutions appropriate for each model of iPod. Although there are third-party tools available to convert these back to normal JPG files, you may find that it’s not worth the effort of recovering them, since the resolutions could be considerably lower than the original images.

In the case of the fourth-generation color iPod (or “iPod photo”) and the fifth-generation iPod, the largest resolution stored for each image is approximately 720×480 image, suitable for on-screen television viewing. This equates to a 0.4 megapixel image, and will likely be considerably lower in resolution than the original photos, but could still be acceptable if there is no other alternative.

The iPod nano, on the other hand, does not support any form of TV output, and therefore does not store any images in a resolution higher than that of the iPod nano screen—176×132, basically thumbnail size (or 0.023 MP in digital camera terms). In this case, it is probably not at all worth the effort of trying to transfer these images back unless they are the only copies that you have remaining.

If you do not have the full-resolution copies stored, and you still want to attempt to transfer the smaller-resolution files back to your computer, there are a few utilities out there that can accomplish this. For Windows, XPlay Photo Browser (free, available on VersionTracker) will work with older model iPods such as the 4G iPod photo, and for newer iPod models, Tansee iPod Transfer Photo ($20, http://www.tansee.com ) is another possibility. Mac users should look at Keith’s iPod Photo Reader (free, http://www.cs.unm.edu/~kwiley/software/keithsIPodPhotoReader.html ) for older model iPods, or FileJuicer ($15, http://echoone.com/filejuicer/ ).

More comprehensive information on iPod photo storage and the various resolutions and image formats used by the iPod can be found in our iLounge Discussion Forums in the thread titled Photo Storage on the iPod – The Gory Details.


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.