Copy Music from Your iPod to Your PC or MAC for Free

Posted March 21, 2006 by William_Wilson in iPod

Getting your music back off of your iPod after a format is simple. This can be done with or without iTunes.


I advise that you close down as many applications as possible as the files we are going to access can potentially corrupt all the music on your iPod. This is not a big deal if you have it backed up somewhere. Just simply format, and start over. However, this is a hassle. Use it at your own risk.

The music on your iPod is in mp3 or an equivalent format, depending on the format with which it was loaded. You cannot see the files because they are hidden. Here is how to get the files off and correct their names, etc.

*If the computer does not have iTunes, then you can jump to Step 2.

1a) Set Up with Another iPod
If the computer to which you are connecting has a registered iPod, plug that one in first. In iTunes, go to Edit\Preferences in the iPod tab and under music. Check the box for disk use.
You will be warned about manual ejecting. Click yes or OK.
Under the same menu select the second radio button option Automatically update selected playlists only, and do not select any.

1b) Set up without another iPod, but computer has iTunes
If the computer does not have a registered iPod, I suggest simply uninstalling iTunes, to avoid the hassle, but if you do not wish to do this, you can do the following:
First, open iTunes (if the computer has it) and click edit\preferences
*You will now need to connect the iPod. (this next part requires you to be quick as iTunes will attempt to update the music on the iPod *If this is not your computer*)
quickly do the same steps as 1a selecting selected playlists only radio button and check the hard disk use option.
*You MUST be quick or the update will attempt to erase the iPod… defeating the purpose.

2) Change view settings
Now that the hard part is done, go to your My Computer or Mac equivalent. Select Tools\Folder Options click the View tab and choose the radio button labeled show hidden and system files.

(More detailed instructions for viewing hidden files and folders can be found here.)

*I know there is a MAC equivalent.. i just don’t have the options and tabs memorized as well.

3) Get the Music!

On your apple you can use these instructions for copying your files over:
Copy music files from your ipod using only the command line.

Open the new drive which has appeared (it will have the name you gave your iPod).
There will likely be a non-hidden folder called music. There are mp3s in this folder, which are not managed by iTunes for some reason, but the bulk of the music will be in another place.
move through the folders: iPod_Control\Music.
In this folder are a bunch of folders labeled F## where the ## are numbers. each of these folders contains a certain amount of music, so copy them all.
This will take a few minutes depending on the size of your iPod.

**DO NOT do anything with the computer that could endanger the data, the files were not meant to be copied this way so corruption is possible.. though I’ve never had it happen.**

Now that the files are on the PC or MAC, what now? They all look like ARCX or something else equally ridiculous, but not to worry, the ID3 tags are still intact!!
Simply open the files in iTunes, Winamp or what have you and they are labeled correctly!

If you REALLY what the files named correctly and sorted artists, album, etc. (you will need iTunes for this)

4) Fix Horrible Names
Open iTunes and select Edit\Preferences choose the Advanced tab. Here check the box Keep iTunes music Folder Organized and Copy music to iTunes music folder when adding to library. Add the files and instantly your files are renamed correctly and sorted for you!!

*I was apprehensive when i first started trying to do this… playing with an iPod in ways in which it was not originally intended can be a little unnerving, and expensive if a mistake were to happen. But remember you are messing with software, and software can be erased and replaced ๐Ÿ™‚
Plus you are dealing with a second computer, in a few freak accidents I’ve seen… a computer either without iTunes or one which is not registered with the problematic iPod was needed to format the little bugger, but it can still be done.
Happy Listening.

-William. ยง (Marvin_Cohan)

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