CNET.com.au gives you a step-by-step tutorial on how to get music off your Windows iPod without any extra software.
Hard drives can melt down. Computers can be stolen. Music folders can be deleted by mistake. Whenever the only copy of your music exists on your iPod, you need a way to get that music off of the unit and onto another computer. Unfortunately, Apple does not offer tools nor does it document procedures to do so. As far as the company is concerned, the only direction music gets transferred is from the computer to the iPod -- unless, of course, the music is stored as data. Fortunately, there is software available for both Mac (try Senuti or iPodRip) and Windows (check out PodPlus) that will help you get music off your 'Pod and even help rebuild playlists. But there's another, easier way to go. It won't cost you a dime and requires no software.
There are a few things to know before you get started. First, this particular method works only for Windows iPods or iPods that normally sync with a Windows computer. Second, if you use this to transfer songs purchased from iTunes Music Store, the computer you're copying to will need to have the same account on it in order to play those protected songs. You can authorise any computer to play iTunes tracks as long as you stay within the five-PC authorisation limit. Third, when using the information below, you should probably keep in mind the warning Apple affixed to the iPod ("Don't steal music").
Required attention span
About 5 minutes to start the transfer; the length of time required after that varies with how much music you're copying onto your computer.
Before you start, you'll need to gather these elements
- An iPod that normally syncs to a Windows computer (we tested this with the Nano, Mini, Photo, fourth-generation, and fifth-generation/video iPods)
- A Windows PC with enough disk space to hold the music on the iPod
Follow these simple steps
- Enable your iPod for use as an external drive
In order for your computer to see the iPod's folders, where the music resides, you'll need to enable it for use as an external disk drive. To do this, connect it to the computer with which you normally sync it and wait for iTunes to start up. Then right-click your iPod in the left-hand menu pane and select iPod Options. You'll start out in the iPod/Music section, which is right where you want to be. Near the bottom of the screen, check the Enable Disk Use box if it isn't already checked.
- Connect the iPod to the destination computer
Using either a FireWire or USB cable (the white one that came with your iPod), connect the iPod to the computer to which you're trying to copy the music. If iTunes comes up, ignore it without clicking anything -- we're going to use Windows itself to copy the music.
- Navigate to your iPod in Windows
Open the Start menu at the lower left of the screen and select My Computer. After your iPod has had enough time to connect to the PC, you'll see it available in the My Computer folder; in Windows XP Media Center, it'll show up under Devices with Removable Storage.
- View iPod contents
Double-click the iPod to open it up as a folder.
- Enable View Hidden Folders function
In the iPod folder, go to Tools > Folder Options and click the View tab. You'll see a bunch of advanced settings for how Windows displays file information. In the Hidden files and folders section, select "Show hidden files and folders," then click OK.
- Open sesame
Here's where the magic happens. In the iPod folder, you'll now see a few new, half-greyed-out folders. Double-click the one called iPod_Control. Then double-click the Music folder. See all of those numbered folders in there? Each one contains between 40 and 60 or so of your iPod's songs.
If you're looking for specific songs or don't mind grabbing all of these folders, you can probably take it from here; just copy and paste or drag the songs into a folder on your computer. But there's a better way -- keep reading.
- Create a destination folder
If you want to be able to find all of this music easily in one folder later, create a new folder on your desktop or within your Music folder, and give it a name.
- Search for all music on the iPod
Click the Search button at the top of the iPod's Music folder. The Search column will appear in the left side of the window. Make sure that "Search for files and folders" appear at the top of this column; if not, click the underlined phrase "Files and folders" at the bottom of the column. Do not enter any text into the two search boxes, but be sure to select your iPod in the Look In drop-down menu. Then expand the Advanced Options section and check the box for "Search hidden files and subfolders." Click Search Now.
- Search by type
You'll see a whole bunch of search results, but don't be alarmed. Sort them by file type by clicking Type at the top of the file-type column, just to the right of Size. Now, you can see all of the iPod's music in chunks, separated by file type. Select the top song you want, then scroll down, hold the Shift key, and select the bottom one you want.
- Copy the music
Now that you have the music selected, drag and drop or copy and paste it into the new folder you created in step seven. Just sit back as the music flows from iPod to PC. Before you close your iPod window, uncheck Advanced Options so that you turn off the View Hidden Folders option. That preference can cause unsightly clutter in your non-iPod folders.