Transfer Music from iPhone, iPod, or iPad to a Computer
Everyone knows how easy it is to get music onto an iPod, iPhone, or iPad with the help of iTunes, but have you ever tried to get music off an iPod or iPhone and onto a new computer? As it turns out, transferring music from an iOS device and to a new or different computer isn’t a feature that is supported in iTunes. Nonetheless it’s easy to do on your own, and we’ll walk you through exactly how to copy all your music from a device and back to a computer.
The end result? The entire music library copied from an iOS device to a computer, ready for iTunes or whatever other media player you want to use. Let’s begin!
Transfer Music from iPhone, iPod, or iPad to iTunes on a Computer for Free
This process will copy all music from the device to a Mac or Windows PC:
- Turn off automatic syncing in iTunes, do this through iTunes Preferences > Devices > check “Prevent iOS hardware from syncing automatically”, then quit iTunes
- Download iExplorer from here (free for Mac OS X and Windows) and install it
- Connect the iPhone, iPad, or iPod to the computer by USB
- Launch iExplorer and click the arrow next to the iOS devices name, then click the arrow next to “Media” and then again next to “iTunes_Control”
- Drag the entire “Music” folder to a location on the desktop, this is all of your music and it may take a while to transfer
- Quit iExplorer when finished
When finished all music will have been successfully copied from the iOS device to the Mac or PC, all while maintaining the music stored on the iPod/iPhone as well.
If you’re satisfied you can stop here, but the Music directory containing the music is arranged in somewhat unusual fashion with songs stuffed into a bunch of “F##” folders with even more meaningless file names. The easiest way to sort and rename all of these files is to use iTunes to import the folder, and if you use iTunes for general media management anyway you’ll want to complete this secondary process as well.
Importing the Copied Music into iTunes
Assuming you want the music you just copied from the iPod or iPhone imported into iTunes, this is what you need to do:
- Disconnect the iPhone, iPad, iPod from the computer and relaunch iTunes
- Open Preferences and click on “Advanced”
- Make sure “Keep iTunes Media Organized” and “Copy files to iTunes Media Folder” are both enabled
- Now go back to the Desktop and drag the entire “Music” folder onto the iTunes icon, or into the iTunes window, causing iTunes to import all the music
If you use the “Automatically Add to iTunes” folder alias, you can also drag the copied Music folder into that directory to migrate all the music into iTunes. Whatever method you use, you will find the songs once stored on the iOS device are now in iTunes on the computer.
While in iTunes it’s a good idea to re-enable automatic syncing too from under the Devices preference panel.
Various Use Cases
The uses of this solution are far and wide, but it’s especially helpful if your previous computer becomes unavailable due to a crash or loss, and you end up with a new computer. In such a situation you can’t just sync the device to the new computer without losing data because you won’t have the original backup folders copied over, but this method allows you to keep your music by pullng the library down from the iPod or iPhone to the computer, which can then be synced again as usual. Hopefully future versions of iTunes will handle this natively for authorized devices, because frankly it’s mighty useful.
Thanks to David for the inspiration