Some options for migrating music libraries

If you’re sitting there with a new computer and scratching your head trying to figure out how to get all your music from your iPod and iTunes library on your old computer, scratch no longer! This is how you do it.

Another alternative is the Lifehacker article Copy Music from Your iPhone or iPod to Your Computer for Free.
Update: And if you want to get your playlists on your new computer, you have to do this.
And you should also read this tip on Keeping iTunes Organized!

There are 79 comments on this post

  1. This is an odd coincidence, as I was faced with just this problem yesterday. Not seeing your post at the time, I found a solution on an Apple chat board somewhere, which was different but worked fine. The idea was to connect your new computer to your old one, using a firewire connector, and then booting your old computer with the “T” key to make it just look like a disk on the new computer. Then you could just drag and drop all the folders under music/iTunes. It took about 15 minutes to transfer my 5GB music library. Sweet.

  2. Hi,

    I need help. I have had my computer stolen. I have a new one but have no idea how to get my ipod music back to the new computer. Apple will not help me because of copyright. Any thnoughts. Thanks.

  3. Yeah me too. I’ve tried a bunch of krap programs that are supposidly so “simple” and easy to use. BS!!! I’m soooooo sick of this! I didnt pay 400 dollars for a 40G POS that i cant even add songs to anymore. Well i could, but I would have to loose the 500 songs that I already have and love. Serious BS, a glimmer of light would be nice.

  4. The 2nd link to restore does not work.

  5. The fix for all this is very easy. First create a new folder on the desktop. Next, connect your ipod to your new computer. If/When itunes opens and prompts you about the ipod being connected to a different library, DO NOT CLICK ANYTHING. At this point you cannot do anything in itunes. Now open My Computer and click on your ipod. You must enable viewing of hidden files to see a folder named “iPod_Control”. Open this and then open the “Music” folder. Hit ctrl+a then ctrl+c. Now close this folder and open the folder you created on the desktop. Now hit ctrl+v. *NOTE this may take up to several hours, depending on how much media you have on your iPod.* Now go back into itunes and eject your iPod. Disconnect it from the computer. Go to file: add folder to library in itunes. Add the folder you created on the desktop, this process may also take a while. Now all your music should be in itunes.

    Hope this helps, sorry for any unclarity in the directions, post for more information if neccesary.

  6. My old pc died but a friend was able to download my music library onto a back up hard drive. When we connected it to my new pc though, we could not find the music. Should I try the way Zach above suggested? Thank you

  7. zach. i love you. everyone do what zach says!!!

  8. Hmm,
    Sounds easy, but – will it synch the same? Will everything just “work”? Will it just recognize *my* ipod just like that?


  9. Zach: Thank you sooooooooooo much.

  10. Zach is a superstar! How come some of the song names are copied over as weird 4 letter codes? Any way to prevent that?

  11. Thanks Zach. worked a treat.

  12. I’m going to try Zach’s method, sounds like the only method so far that may work for me since my old computer is unable to connect to the internet and does not have itunes 7 version on it. I do have one question before I try this: should I have itunes already loaded on the new computer, or should I connect the ipod before loading itunes? thanks!

  13. I don’t want this music on my computer i simply want to add more songs from my new pc onto my ipod how can i do it?!?

  14. I wish I could use this to copy a TV series that is half on one computer and half on another. It works great with music!

  15. okay I used zach’s method to put all my songs onto my new computer from my old computer but now all the songs i downloaded from my old computer have exclamation marks and it says the songs cant be found since i didn’t download them on the new computer and so i cant listen to them on this computer. How do I fix this?

  16. Help Zach! I did everything you said but it isn’t adding the folder to the library! Help!!

  17. Hey Zach..same here. All worked well except the file will not transfer to my library. What to do…what to do..

  18. THANK YOU!!!!! I don’t know if this will help others, but after doing everything Zach said, I did one more step that worked. I clicked on my new info in my new folder and selected all my music. After selecting them they instantly went into Itunes. Then when it asked if i wanted to erase old info and add new playlist…I said YES!!! Since it was the same stuff. I am elated…it finally worked. THANK YOU SO MUCH! I have been playing with this for hours

  19. Zach is the man. However, I also had a hard time transferring songs from the folder to i tunes. I figured out that it was because my new folder (folder 1) contained a bunch of smaller folders within it. I solved that by creating another folder (folder 2) on the desktop, and manually moving the contents of each of the smaller folders into it. Folder 2 now had all of my songs, but without small folders. Then i added this folder to itunes, and it worked out.

  20. Does this work even if your Ipod was set to “synch automatically”. I’m so afraid I’m going to lose nearly 5,000 songs!!!! I don’t have my old computer (whuch was a PC), I just have my Ipod (set on my old computer to automatically sync) and my new computer (a Mac). Does anyone see any potential problems? I’m totally freaked out, but I want my music on my computer so it’s at least backed-up!! Thanks!

  21. I tried the “Zach approach” and I am unable to find the “enable hidden files” is this b/c I have a MAC? Where would I find this? THanks!!

  22. Zach’s method worked great for me the first time, but after replacing my hard drive, I was only able to resurrect about half the songs from the same copied files (I stored them on a network drive). I had the same problem Ashley had, where the files had an ! and couldn’t be located. I am happy that I got at least half of my files back, though.

  23. eh… my ipod shows up as a ipod and as the F: drive but no folder for music

  24. I cannot get my new computer to recognise my ipod – one message says that the ipod needs restoring and another that it is corrupted – any ideas?


  25. oh my goodness.

    Zach, I don’t know who you are, but you are amazing and I will never forget the great deed you have done for me tonight. You have saved my life and sanity, and I will never forget you.
    Love Always,
    Ashley and her iPod

  26. I copied the entire Ipod_Control directory to a directory on my C: drive. Make sure the directory is not still hidden. You will not be able to add the folder to iTunes if it is still hidden. Just right click the folder and choose properties, then remove the check mark from “Hidden”. Then it will work fine.

  27. hello. ok … almost there. the files copied fine, and anytime i click on a file it plays and itunes recognizes it. BUT … i can’t get the folders to copy to the itunes library. i’m on vista … what am i doing wrong???

  28. I have windows vista and have tried finding the ipod_control folder.. i made sure to show the hidden files and it’s still not there!

  29. Same problem as you Nicole. I have Windows Vista and can’t find the ipod_control folder. Have you had any luck yet? And did you install itunes first before starting the file copying process???

  30. i am having the same problem with vista…can anyone help?

  31. I’m so relieved,my old computer was fried, so I had no way to copy the files but from my Ipod. I had to unhide the folders and then it worked…my music is now in itunes on new computer.

  32. Hi to all, and to Zack who is great! I’m going to try your tip about setting up a file on my desktop to start putting my ipod items into the computer. This is really frustrating and can’t thank you enough.

  33. Zach:

    I’ve got an old nano and a new computer…I can get the music on the nano onto the computer, but now the nano won’t play. Any ideas?

    Thanks, John

  34. Zach, your advice was a huge help!

    I’ve found the folder in Vista. When you’re in “My Computer” and have your iPod selected as the drive, go to Tools -> Folder Options. Under the View tab, you should see a folder that says Hidden Files & Folders. It is slightly indented on my computer. Then select the bubble for “View hidden files and folders,” hit Apply, OK, and the folder should then show up. Hope this helps those of you also working with Vista.

  35. I have a similar problem. Both my Ipod and computer were stolen at the same time. I have heard there’s a way to get your purchased itunes songs back. Is this true and how would I do that? Thank you!

  36. does zachs method work for imacs?

  37. I am trying these techniques above however my ipod was previously formatted on an imac and when i connect it to my new pc i don’t even get an ipod icon come up in my computer. An icon comes up as removable disk (G:) instead! Damn it, help

  38. good advice zack, Lo is a douchebag, molly sounds hot, lexi is sexy, tom can suck a dick, adam….get a job….

  39. How do you enable viewing hidden files?

  40. Awesome! worked a treat – doing a small happy dance as i type – thank you!

  41. “Zach Method” with David’s advice worked for my nano with Windows XP. Like David said, inside my copied music folder there were a few folders labelled F00, F01, etc. filled with the actual music files. Once going into those folders and copying all files to another folder (which i then added to itunes) it worked except for maybe 40 songs, which still had a 4-letter name after I finished. Didnt know what to do about those so Ive been going through and renaming them manually….

  42. Hey Zack… You’re instruction are perfect and it worked with my Nano… Now I’m trying to do the same with my itouch and when I get to the part where you .. Open My Computer and click on your ipod”.. my ipod is not there…. What do I do? I can’t find it! Pls help!! Thank you!

  43. Zach you are a genius. I have searched for about 2 hours now for how to do this. Yours was the simplest and easiest way to do it. You should be a tech support person.
    Thank you, you saved me from ripping all my hair out

  44. Does zach’s method work with a windows vista?

  45. If you still cannot see your iPod under My Computer even if you after you enable viewing of hidden files, go into iTunes and enable “Manually Manage Music and Videos” and apply it to you iPod (DO NOT SYNC, just apply settings). You should now be able to see your iPod and it’s folders.

  46. This is much easier than any of that (at least it worked for me, so sorry if it doesn’t) when you open iTunes go to Preferences and under devices you click the box that says, Disable automatic synching for iPhones and iPods. Once that box is checked you simply plug in your iPod and thats it. You don’t loose anything and all your music is still there. Hope this Helps.

  47. GENIOUS!!! Zach’s method totally worked – even with Vista. To enable viewing of hidden files, go to Control Panel – Folder Options – View – Advanced Settings and select view hidden files. I had the same issue as David, but instead of copying files to another folder, I just went into each folder, Select all and dragged them directly to iTunes. Me and my 2,772 songs are reunited and it feels so good!!!!!!

  48. I have been too worried to try and get my music onto my new computer for almost a year but I just followed Zach’s directions and it worked perfectly. THANK YOU ZACH!!!!!!!

  49. Ok I have a question. My old computer’s mother board fried! So I bought a new Toshiba and am tring to even get the computer to recognize the USB that I have pluged in. I get a device not recognized message. I have Vista and this is frustrating. Can anyone help? Much apprieciated…

  50. I got internet on my Dell and I want to sync my iPod to this computer now instead of another Dell that I used instead, before I got internet. Unfortunately, my computer will not recognize that I am connecting the iPod. I can’t even go into the iPod’s files, it will not show up in “My Computer”.

  51. Thank you Zach and Randy. Your combined advice made it happen. You are Legends!

  52. i have the same prob as Barbara Davidson,i too lost my computer and have all my music & vids on my ipod but now i have a new computer i want to add more music without loosing exsisting music& vids.can u plz help going mad listening to the same stuff over n over but don’t want to lose anything. thanx!

  53. K mark heres a solution as Zach mentioned above connect your Ipod , go to My CPU, then double click the iPod hard drive usually E:\ Drive, now change folder properties in the iPod to enable the viewing of invisible files and folders, youll find the folder “iPod_Control”; You should now see the folder “Music” this is where all your music is saved in Raw and non raw files which are a 1/3 mp3 files and 2/3 files which have to be recognised by your iPod, any who, just copy the whole folder “Music” into your desktop or wherever (anywhere on your computer of your iPod); it will take a considerable amount off time as im guessing your library was huge, now that youve done this you know that your music files are on your desktop and on your computer, so erase your iPod and resync them through the “Music” folder on your desktop, hope this helps, want further insight? email me ill be glad to be thorough with your iPod issues,


  54. Sorry for double posting but i thought my email would show up, it is

  55. Alexis and Linz, i have 3 alternatives to solve your problems, whether these will solve them is another matter, i hope they do any how. K so,

    1. Connect iPod and hold center, or side buttons for 10 secs non stop (on the iPod), this should reset your iPod ID connection, if this doesant work then,
    2. Look to see if you have any printing devices installed on your computer these interfere with the iPod and CPU’s connectivity, if you do happen to have a printer or similar software simply disable it for the time being by disconnecting the cables, then plug iPod, if problem persists then my final step is,
    3. A driver has seriously had trouble locating the iPod, this can be a very technical and risky process so please be sure you know what your doing before doing this step, now click Run and type the following “devmgmt.msc”, click enter, Windows Device Manager should pop up, now time to get technical; make sure your iPod is connected and then click the drop down list labeled “Disk drivers” check to see if you have anything which says “Apple” in its hardware name, if you do then thats a good sign, if you dont then im afraid my help ends here, now if you spot an “apple” related driver i.e. Apple iPod USB device etc, then click it and do either the following, you can disable it and then re-enable it to see if it makes a difference or you could simply update it, if neither of these work then unistall it (the DRIVER) and re-download iTunes all over again, reconnect iPod and if all goes well the new DRIVER will be allocated and you should be connected, if not then i tried my best, i can still assist you at my email, its as mentioned above,


  56. Zach and David are the best….Thank you guys sooooo much.

  57. Zach- you rule. That totally worked and I am psyched.

    One problem though- I’m synching my ipod and I don’t think it’s transfering the songs I purchsed on itunes previously. Anyone have any suggestions??

  58. It should. I just did the same thing and my old purchases did transfer, they just don’t show up under the purchases tab of itunes anymore. Sort your files by kind or type I forget which it is and you’ll see which are the protected/purchased ones.

  59. My old PC is dead and bought a Toshiba Satellite A135 laptop with Vista. So nowI have no access to my music except for what’s is on my IPOD. But, my 4th generation 2GB IPOD is not recognized in by My Computer, but my 512mb shuffle is. I don’t even get a message saying the USB is not recoginzed. I get nothing except that my IPOD charges. I’ve done everything and even updated drivers and still nothing. HELP!!!!

  60. I have an iPod Touch that is giving me problems
    I can hook up to my computer at work and manage it like a dream
    I go home to hook it up to my PC and iTunes can’t find the iPod

    Any suggestions to remify this

  61. i have a new iPod nano (third generation) and every time i plug it into the computer it says “One of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned and windows does not recognize it.” i’v done everything i could have but still nothing please help me!

  62. This worked just as Zach claimed. My son is so very happy and so am I. Old computer died and I really needed to import his IPOD to new computer. Windows Vista is not a problem. Thanks Zach!!!

  63. Zach, you are a superstar!

  64. if you have an on-the-go playlist and you get a new computer when you plug your ipod in willl all those songs still be on the ipod? and will they be added to the new itunes library? because my computer died and i got a new one with a new itunes and i need to add these songs to my ipod without loosing all the songs that are already on my ipoddd… please help! haha

  65. i just had to buy an new computer my old one the mother bord fried. i`m trying to do Zack`s way and i cant find how to enable the viewing of invisible files and folders. i have the new windows 7 can anyone help me?

  66. So i was engaged and my ex took off with everything but my ipod and erased everything of mine off the coputer and took it to VA. Now after a year and a half I have a brand new computer and my 80G ipod with 3000 songs and about 7 movies and 40 music videos. how do i get all of that onto my new computer and into back Itunes so i can FINALY add some new stuff to my ipod and be able to update it regularly without loosing the hundreds of dollars i have already spent on it.

  67. Zach, you rock!!

  68. Zach 🙂 you did NOT disappoint. I owe you my life…

  69. Zack….. Thank you so very much!!!! You ROCK 🙂

  70. Zack- you helped a Dad get his 16 year old daughters music back on her compute-thanks so much for both of us!

  71. question for “zach method”: does this keep your playlists and playlist order, too?

  72. Zack’s steps worked great until I had to find the “iPod_Control” folder… I just can’t seem to find it anywhere 🙁 Anyone wanna help me? lol

  73. Just kidding I read Randy’s comment! Thanks anyways

  74. I did all of what you said by opening my ipod touch and clicking the “show hidden folders” however my computer is not showing the new folder? What shall i do about this?

    Also, my ipod was sync using a mac and i am now trying to put my music into my itunes on a Hp so I am using windows vista. Could this be why it’s not working?

  75. zach and B.O.T had great advice. It worked for only the picture. i could not get any songs. I have a Dell. Help!!!!!

  76. Hey guys i did everything i read ive enabled hidden files i see my ipod but i cant get anything outta it it keeps saying its a camera device and i can get my pics from it but no other files come up WTF! it must be my curse might it hav something 2 do with my jailbreak?

  77. where do u go to enable hidden files step by step i have an emachine with windows 7

  78. nvm I gotter figured out zach,B.O.T and david u guys are legends

  79. I had a Mac and now a PC. When I plugged my iPod in it said it was formatted for a Mac and had to restore for PC so no matter what I did all my music was gone. Lucky I still have my Mac (Just doesn’t hold a charge) How can I get the music from one to the other. Wouldn’t it be great if apples just let you sign in to you account from any device

Add to the discussion:

I'll never share your email address and it won't be published.

What Is This? is the personal weblog of me, David Vincent Gagne. I've been publishing here since 1999, which makes this one of the oldest continuously-updated websites on the Internet.

A few years ago I was trying to determine what cocktails I could make with the alcohol I had at home. I searched the App Store but couldn't find an app that would let me do that, so I built one.


You can read dozens of essays and articles and find hundreds of links to other sites with stories and information about Ernest Hemingway in The Hemingway Collection.