Do you have an old iPod or two from the last decade lying around gathering dust? Do they still have old music on them that you no longer have in any other form? Well, dust them off, because you can rescue the music from your old iPod.
So, how do you transfer music from your iPod to your computer? Today I’ll share with you the procedure I discovered that allowed me to extract music from my brother’s old 16GB iPod onto my PC. Once extracted from the iPod, I could add the music to my iTunes library and sync it with my iPhone.
Prevent iTunes Automatically Syncing With Your Device
I inherited an iPod Nano 16GB 4th Generation (2008) and an iPod Classic 20GB 4th Generation U2 Special Edition (2004) from my brother. I wanted to get the music off each iPod and see if I wanted to add any of his music to my collection.
When you connect a device to iTunes, the music in your iTunes library is automatically uploaded to your device, replacing the music currently on the device. You cannot download music from an iPod (or iPhone or iPad) into iTunes. So, if I connect one of my brother’s iPods to iTunes, all the music would be overwritten with my iTunes library.
The method for preventing iTunes from automatically syncing with your iOS device mostly the same for Windows and Mac:
- Make sure there are no iOS devices connected to your computer. Then, open iTunes. In Windows, go to Edit > Preferences. On a Mac, go to iTunes > Preferences.
- Then, on both Windows and Mac, click the Devices tab and check the Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically box. Then, click OK and close iTunes.
Copy Music From Your iPod to Your Computer
Now, you can connect your iPod to your computer. It should show up as a drive in both File Explorer on Windows and in Finder on Mac. Open the iPod drive and navigate to the iPod_Control > Music folder. You’ll see folders labeled with an “F” and a number.
Select all the folders in the iPod_Control > Music folder and copy and paste them to a location on your hard drive. This will transfer your music from your iPod to your computer.
The files all have random four-letter file names. If you’ve copied the music files onto a Windows PC, you can see the tags for each music file in File Explorer. But, you will not see the tags in Finder on a Mac.
Later in this article, we’ll show you how to easily change the file names using the tags.
Once you’ve copied the files, you can eject the iPod and disconnect it. On a Windows PC, right-click on the iPod drive in File Explorer and select Eject.
On a Mac, right-click on the iPod drive icon on the desktop and select Eject, with the name of the iPod.
Add the Music to Your iTunes Library
After transferring the music from your iPod to your computer, you can get that music to your phone. To sync the music files to your iPhone, add the music from your iPod to your iTunes library on your Windows PC or Mac.
By default, on a Windows PC, adding items to your iTunes library creates a reference to the file’s current location. The original file remains in the current location. So, if you were to move the original files, iTunes would no longer see them.
You can have iTunes for Windows make a copy of each file and put that copy into the iTunes media folder. Moving the original files would have no effect on the music in your iTunes library.
Finally gave the keys to iTunes: "Copy files to iTunes Media Folder when adding to library"
— Rob Murrer (@robmurrer) February 23, 2013
Open iTunes for Windows and go to Edit > Preferences. Click the Advanced tab and check the Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library box. This option is checked by default in iTunes for Mac.
Once you enable the Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library option, all media added to your iTunes library from then on will be copied into the iTunes media folder and not linked to the original files.
To organize your iTunes Media folder into artist and album folders and name the media files based on the disc number, track number, and the song title, check the Keep iTunes Media folder organized box.
Notice that we said that when you check the Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library box, all media files from then on are copied to the iTunes Media folder and not linked to the original files. Media added to your iTunes library before enabling that check box, are still linked to the original media files.
If you have the space on your hard drive, it’s a good idea to copy all your media files to the iTunes Media folder, so they are all in one location and easy to back up. To copy the remaining media files linked to in your iTunes library, go to File > Library > Organize Library. On the Organize Library dialog box, check the Consolidate files box and click OK.
To add some or all of the music from your iPod to your iTunes library, go to either File > Add File to Library or File > Add Folder to Library in iTunes for Windows. If you’re using a Mac, go to File > Add to Library. Then, select the files or folder you want to add.
You can also add music to your iTunes library by dragging music files from File Explorer or Finder to the iTunes window.
The music from your old iPod is now in your iTunes library ready to be synced with your iPhone.
Change or Fix Tags
If you need to change or fix tags on the music you added to your iTunes library, you can do so directly in iTunes. To edit tags for a song, right-click on the song and select Song Info.
If iTunes has told you that your entire iTunes library is damaged, there are ways you can fix it.
On the dialog box that displays, you’ll see six tabs containing information about the selected song. You can edit items like the song title, artist, album, and genre. Click the buttons at the top to view and change the different information.
To quickly go to the next song in the list, click the right arrow at the bottom of the dialog box.
When you’re done editing the tags, click OK.
You can also edit common information for multiple songs at the same time. Use the Shift or Ctrl (Command on Mac) keys to select the songs you want to edit. Then, right-click on the selected songs and select Get Info.
A confirmation dialog box displays. If you don’t want to see this dialog box every time, check the Do not ask me again box.
Click Edit Items to continue.
Only the items that apply to all the selected items are displayed on the information dialog box. Click the buttons at the top to access the different types of information. Edit tags as you want and click OK.
Create a Playlist
If you like using playlists on your iPhone, you can easily create them in iTunes and they will be synced to your iPhone. I added an album to my iTunes library, and I decided to create a playlist for it using iTunes on my Mac. The procedure is the same on Windows.
To create a playlist, select the songs you want in the playlist. Then, right-click on the selected songs and select New Playlist.
The playlist is created using artist and album title as the name. To change the name of the playlist, click on the title and type a new title.
You can also rearrange the songs in the playlist by dragging and dropping them to different positions.
Transfer Music to Your iPhone
To transfer the added music to your iPhone, make sure iTunes is open and connect your device to your computer. Then, click the device icon at the top of the iTunes window.
To make sure the newly added music is added to your music library on your iPhone, you must tell iTunes to sync your entire music library. If you only sync selected items, everything else except the selected items and media purchased from iTunes will be removed from your iPhone.
Click Music in the sidebar on the left under Settings. Then, make sure Sync Music is selected on the right and select Entire music library.
Click Summary in the sidebar on the left. Then, click Sync in the lower-right corner of the iTunes window. The progress of the transfer shows in the upper-center of the iTunes window.
Rename the Music Files
It’s a good idea to back up the original music files in case your music library is deleted by Apple or you find that your playlists are empty. You may also want to listen to your music files on your PC or other non-iOS devices.
People have also been known to encounter problems when using Apple Music with their personal iTunes music collection. So, backing up your original music files is recommended.
But the random four-letter file names assigned to the files copied from your iPod are not very descriptive. And especially on a Mac, you won’t know what the songs are without adding them to iTunes, or viewing the tags for the files in another app.
You can manually rename the files, but there’s an easier way using a free tool, called Mp3tag. It’s a Windows program, but there is a way you can use it on a Mac, which we’ll cover in a bit.
On your Windows PC, download Mp3tag and install it. To add Mp3tag to the File Explorer context menu, check the Explorer Context Menu box on the Choose Components screen during installation.
To rename music files from your iPod, select the files in File Explorer. Then, right-click on the files and select Mp3tag.
Go to Convert > Tag – Filename, or press Alt + 1.
On the Tag – Filename dialog box, enter a Format string using placeholders to extract information from the tags for each file.
The Format string in the image below creates a file name with a two-digit track number, song title, artist name, and album name, all separated by dashes.
If you want to construct your own file name, you can refer to the various format string placeholders available in the help. Go to Help > Contents.
When the help system opens in your default browser, click Renaming files based on tags under Working with tags and file names.
You’ll find a list of placeholders you can use in the Format string to create your own custom file names for your music files.
With very little effort, we renamed all 37 files in our album.
There are music tagging apps for Mac, like Kid3, but I didn’t find one as easy to use as Mp3tag. You can run Mp3tag on your Mac, using some methods we’ve previously covered. We tested WineBottler and it worked very well. You can download a WineBottler version of Mp3tag, which is a ready-made APP file you can add directly to the Applications folder on your Mac and run.
Use the same steps listed above to rename music files using Mp3tag on your Mac.
Rescue Music and Breathe New Life Into an Old iPod
If your old iPod will still charge enough to use it for a short while, you can easily transfer music from that iPod to your computer. You can also bring your old iPod Classic back to life. Old iPods can still be useful. For example, you can use an old iPod to expand your selection of music available in your car, or as a dedicated ebook player.
If you decide to sell your old iPod, here are some online tools for determining how much your old iPod is worth. If you decide you don’t like using iTunes, there are other ways to sync music to your iPhone.
Do you have any old iPods lying around? Have you discovered music on them you didn’t know you had? Were you able to bring any of your old iPods back to life? Share your ideas and experiences with us in the comments below!