To protect the copyrights of the songs, musics and videos stored on iPod and reduce piracy, Apple has make it difficult to copy or transfer the songs, musics, audio, videos and files that stored on iPod to personal computer (PC) or laptop notebook computer, by scrambling the file names of the songs on the iPod and telling the operating system that the files should be invisible to normal users, without any encryption involved in this iPod anti-copying mechanism.

iTunes allows only one-way synchronization of musics from computer to iPod, so if for whatever reasons such as need to reload your library on local hard disk due to desktop hard disk failure or buying new computer, you can easily copy back the video, music and song library from iPod on a Windows PC by following steps:

  1. Insert your iPod to a Windows PC USB or FireWire port. (PC should runs Windows XP or other Windows operating system).
  2. If your Windows PC still doesn’t have iTunes installed, skip this step. If iTunes is already installed and prompt a message on whether if you’d like to associate this iPod with this computer and deleting its content, click No. Or else you will lose your only copy of library on iTunes. Beside, ensure that Enable Disk Use is selected.
  3. Open My Computer or Windows Explorer, the iPod should be automatically detected as a portable hard drive.
  4. Click on the iPod icon or the iPod portable hard drive letter to open the contents of the drive.
  5. If you don’t see a folder called iPod Control, it’s hidden and invisible. To unhidden it so that it’s visible, go to Tools -> Folder Options -> View, and then check (enable) the option Show hidden files and folders.
  6. Open the iPod Control folder, and then the Music folder.
  7. The Music folder contains the iPod’s music and videos, divided into folders. Copy the library to local computer hard drive’s My Music folder.
  8. The files copied have unintelligible four-letter file names. To reveal the names of the songs and other data tags, add the files to the Windows Media Player or iTunes libraries or switch to “Tiles” view in Windows Explorer.
  9. Rename the file if necessary.

Beside above manual ways to copy and transfer song library from iPod to computer, or import into iTunes, there are several third party program or more commonly called iPod Manager that has the iPod copying function such as SharePod (freeware (shareware at $20 – no longer free), iExplorer (shareware at $25) or PodPlus (now iGadget ($19.99) or iRepo ($16.99)). The freeware iPhone Explorer supports iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.

Similarly, in Macintosh running MacOS X or MacOS 9, it’s harder to show hidden files and folders. So these third party utilities with iPod copying will be useful to transfer files and music from iPod to PC’s hard disk and iTunes library.

For MacOS X, try Broken Helix (also Ollie’s iPod Extractor) (resource no longer available) and Rob’s iPod Exporter (resource no longer available). For MacOS 9, try escapePod (resource no longer available) and iProber. Other iPod Manager or iPod song transfer utility for Mac include Senuti (30 days 1000 songs trial), iPodRid (now iRip – shareware at $24.95), iPod.iTunes (shareware) and PodWorks (resource no longer available) and PodUtil (Music Rescue).

Note that most of the above software, if still developed, will now be supporting both Windows and Mac platform.

For Linux, try GUIPod.

The transferred music will be playable without any restrictions if the songs are ripped from CDs. If the songs or videos are bought from the iTunes music store, they will play in iTunes after you have “authorize” the computer. To authorize, try playing a purchased file. It will prompt you for your iTunes username and password. Up to five computers can be authorized at any one time. Or, you can go to iTunes menu -> iTunes Store -> Authorize This Computer.