Q: I have a playlist on my iPod touch which I’ve refined over several years from tracks in my main iTunes library (my music is managed manually). I have just bought a new iPhone and would like to have the same playlist on the phone. Is there a way to get the same tracks onto my phone other than by manually copying them?
A: Since you are managing the content on your iPod touch manually you will need to copy those playlists back to your iTunes library in order to sync them to your iPhone. If you have content that it also stored only on the iPod touch and not in your iTunes library, you will need to copy these tracks back as well so that they can be synced to your iPhone.
If you need to copy the tracks themselves, then you will want to look at using a third-party utility such as those described in our article on Copying Content from your iPod to your Computer. Most of these utilities will also transfer your playlists back to iTunes as part of the copying process, and once the information is back in your library you can simply sync your iPhone with iTunes as you normally would.
If all of the music is already in your iTunes library, however, and you’re merely looking to get the playlists from your iPod touch, there is a slightly easier way to do this directly within iTunes. You can use iTunes to export the playlists from your iPod touch to a file and then reimport this file into your iTunes library to recreate the playlist directly in your library.
To do this, simply expand the iPod touch within iTunes to display the playlists contained on it, right-click on the playlist that you would like to export, and choose the Export option from the context menu which appears.
iTunes will prompt you for a location and format to save the file. Save the playlist as an XML file using whatever name and location is convenient for you. Once you have done this, simply choose File, Library, Import Playlist from the iTunes menu and select the file that you previously exported. The playlist will be recreated in your iTunes library and will contain any tracks that were referenced in the original playlist that already exist in your library. Keep in mind that this process will not add any new tracks that aren’t already in iTunes—it will merely reference those tracks that are already there.
Once the playlist is back in your iTunes library, you can simply sync it or manually transfer it to your iPhone as you normally would.