How to easily copy music from your iPod to your Windows iTunes music library

65 Comments

One of the failings of iTunes is the inability to copy music files from the iPod to your iTunes library without third party utilities.  I suspect Apple did this by design to keep we iTunes customers from copying our DRMed music.  I recently rebuilt my Tablet PC and wanted to copy my 18 GB of music residing on my iPod over to the Tablet so my library would be filled again.  A gotcha lurks when you install iTunes and your iPod onto a new computer because iTunes is set by default to replace your iPod library with the desktop library the first time they are partnered.  Of course since your iTunes library is empty it promptly wipes out your precious music on the iPod leaving you with no library anywhere.  Ouch.  There is a simple way to prevent this and also copy your iPod library to the desktop without any third party software.

iTunes won’t let you configure the iPod to prevent the auto-syncing until AFTER the iPod is connected to iTunes.  It is imperative you do not partner the two libraries when asked by iTunes, tell it no so the auto-sync doesn’t wipe your iPod clean leaving you a blubbering idiot in the process.  Once the iPod is connected and set to operate as a hard disk on your PC exit iTunes.  Go to the iTunes directory on the Windows machine (My Music/ iTunes by default) and delete the XML file and the ITL file which is the library database installed when you hooked up the iPod.

With those files deleted the iTunes library is now empty as it should be for this process.  Navigate over to the iPod in My Computer and make sure you set the folder options to show hidden files.  Find the hidden folder called iPod Control and even though it’s filled with many files with nonsensical names this is in fact the music library on the iPod.  Copy that folder to anywhere on the PC which will take a while if you have a lot of songs.  When this copy is complete open iTunes and in the Files menu tell iTunes to Add a Folder and select the iPod Control folder you just copied over.  You could actually do this straight from the iPod without copying them all over but I was nervous something might happen to the library on the iPod so I copied them first.

Before you do the Add a Folder mentioned above make sure iTunes is set to manage your library and to copy files when adding to iTunes.  This is important to get iTunes to organize the songs using the ID3 tags in the song files you just copied over.  That’s it– you have all your iPod songs now properly copied to the desktop and nicely organized and in the iTunes database.  Note that when you first connect the iPod to the computer after you set iTunes to auto-sync it will wipe the iPod clean and sync the new iTunes library back to the iPod.  It seems like a silly step but since the two libraries are the same anyway it doesn’t hurt anything, it just takes time.  It is necessary to make sure the databases are identical.  Once it’s done you can delete the iPod Control folder you copied on the desktop since iTunes has copied the songs into it’s own directory tree.

65 Comments

Matthew

For all of the people that do not have iTunes opening files when they select; File -> Add Folder -> iPod_Control

From My Computer; Create a copy of all folders in your iPod drive into a new folder called ‘iPod’ on your desktop. Now in iTunes open this folder ‘iPod’ everything should work from there on in.

Hope this helps half as much as this original article did. Thanks jk!

Ellie Wolffe

i try to open the folder ipod control but nothing happens , is this because my itunes will not let me set the ipod for disc use?

the box for disc use is checked but not able to be unchecked

roma

best eay to see if u have all the songs on ur new pc is to export library from ur old one and import on the new one. if u dont have everything it will tell u some songs wasnt found…

kathy

I did everything you said, but when I tried to add the folder on iTunes it didn’t work. (Maybe this is because I have a mini.) In any case, I had to copy and paste each individual folder from music in iPod control to a different place and then add each of them seperately to iTunes. There were only 6 folders though, so it didn’t take that long. Anyway, thanks so much! <3 kathy

Anthony

Wow! I can’t thank you enough! Everything worked just as described. The library is there and the migraine is gone. Thanks.

Dave

Great info thanks – best I found on the whole web! Would be good if you amended the above to point out about changing the folder attributes.

I risked adding the folder directly from the ipod, rather than copying ipod control to the PC first – worked perfectly and much quicker :-)

Having done this with the video ipod, interesting to note the video files keep the system names, rather than the names of the films but easy enough to identify which film was wihch and rename.

I do think Apple should address this – they are into customer satisfaction (I think?) and this is one of the few things with the ipod that must upset quite a few people, if they lose their whole library.

Thanks again!

Sharad

When I loaded my ipod with this method, some of my video files are showing up with wrong names (4 letter ones). How do I convert to the correct file names? Please help.

jwh

When I plug in my ipod, it only shows up as a drive in My Computer for about 5 seconds and then disappears so I can only see the ipod control files until the connection is gone. How do I get around this? Please help.

Cello Maya

I got the volume to work, now when i transfer the songs i cant get the name to appear just the artist, i know you explain that in the article but im a little slow when it comes to computers, how do i get my itunes to “manage files when adding to itunes”?

cello Maya

i got all the songs to transfer however now i cant hear anything, its like the computer is on mute but its not

R. Miller

This was extreemly halpful. my computer crashed and i was worried that some thousand and more songs would forever be lossed to me if i ever tried to update my ipod in iTunes. But luckily i searched the web first, in find of a better solution. and i found and followed this.

I’m very grateful =]

though next time i’ll back up my ipod.

Anil

Thanks a bunch and appreciate your thought of adding this info. My hard disk crashed and I didn’t have any backup of my ipod which had over 25 gb of music and movies. This feature helped reduce the time taken to upload from my cd’s and dvd’s.

Thanks and appreciate your help. However, the movie files got renamed to some gabble de gook names. I had to rename those, not a big deal if I could retrieve 80% perfect data.

Thanks.

Mahipal

Fantabulous! what a great article!! it worked like a cham, just like that. way to go jk.
thanks
MP

Trent

Guys…I love ya’ll. My computer crashed, and my heart was broken. It worked though. You should have a podcast on itunes or someting. Thank you so much. Roll Tide

brittney

i can’t find iPod Control on my list of things. i am soo lost. and need help.. desperately

Chandler Hall

Thank you SOO much man. This made my life so much easier, and saved me HOURS.

Mike

Thanks for sharing all the behind-the-scenes nightmare crap because I would’ve been spinning my wheels all day trying to figure this out!!

jcamp

for some reason, when in asked itunes to “add a folder” and tried to add the newly created music file off my ipod mini, it didn’t add it and then wiped out my ipod since it was then set to sync. i do however have a copy of the newly created music file, but cannot get itunes to accept it. HELP!!!!!

Nello

Hello,

I’ve done this before but how do you get the ratings, purchased music, playlist, etc… back?

Thanks

Daniel

Bob Stein

Thanks so much for the easy to follow advice and procedure. It allowed me to sync my son’s iPod mini, which had much more content than the Windows PC. Steps and process worked falwlessly.

Amaya

Words cannot express how excited I am I found your site with this info. My computer crashed and all of my music – CDs that were uploaded and about $200 worth of downloads – was lost. I was getting a migraine thinking of the time and money to get my music back because my ipod mini wouldn’t copy its music to my library. I was able to do it successfully with your direction… thank you, thank you, thank you… I have a strong desire to send you a fruit basket. Have a fabulous day…

Phoebe

JK – thanks so much for this info – I’ve been trying to work this out ever since swapping over in Feb…. Only thing is I’m still up to the hard disk configuring part and so far it’s taken a few hours – is this right or is something wrong..?

Thanks again for a great site.

george

Followed the steps exactly as outlined and imported all the music from an iPod mini on to a new Windows laptop drive. The music is there on the laptop drive. But nothing happens when I then tell iTunes to Add a Folder and select the IPod Control folder I just copied over. It just won’t add, despite taking care to do everything as above. Any help would be much appreciated.

jk

Dean, from the article:

“Navigate over to the iPod in My Computer and make sure you set the folder options to show hidden files. “

Dean Maughan

Whoops my bad :)
I should have said Hidden attribute not read only.
It is strange that you did not need to change anything, as I most certinately did.

jk

I did not have todo that when I copied my music over. Read only should be good enough since you’re not writing to the music directly.

Dean Maughan

Thanks for the article JK.
Just copied my Ipod music to my new TabletPC. Just one note, after coping the Ipod control directory to the pc you need to change the read only attribute for all the files and folders or iTunes will not find any files in the folders to import. I think this limitation will also stop you from being able to import directly from the IPOD.

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