If you search on the Apple Web site for information about transferring music from an iPod to a computer, you won't find a ton of direct answers. The company line follows that iTunes is meant to deliver music to the iPod, not vice versa. If you wish to secure your digital library, Apple recommends backing it up on CDs or portable drives.
Despite this tight control, Apple has left a few back doors open to the iPod. The key to transferring music from an iPod to a computer is understanding how the device can double as an external storage device (hard or flash depending on iPod model). Apple has no problem with people using their iPods to store and transfer nonmedia files, such as tax returns documents. After figuring that out, we're only a few more steps away from unlocking the door to moving around (for legal reasons) music (that you own legally).
When you connect your iPod to iTunes, you can enable the device as an external storage device under the Settings tab. Here's how you do that:
- Connect your iPod to your computer and open iTunes.
- Click on the iPod device in the iTunes source list on the left side of the screen.
- Click the Settings tab at the top of the screen.
- Under Settings, check the box that says "Enable disk use."
- Close iTunes.
- Locate the iPod icon in the Finder on a Mac or Explorer on a Windows format.
- Drag the desired files over that icon.
- Disconnect the iPod from the computer.
When you want to retrieve those files, perform the first four steps again. Once you've enabled the iPod as a disk and locate the icon, you should be able to open it and see your files.
A file that you won't notice when you open up that disk-enabled iPod is one with your music inside it. But where could your complete Hall and Oates discography be looming inside of that device? Apple designed gadgets purposely to hide its treasured media contents.
But just because you can't see your songs doesn't mean they aren't there.