Use iTunes to Copy CDs to Your iPhone or iPod

The method by which you get music from your CDs to your iTunes library and thus to your iPod or iPhone is a process called ripping. When you rip a CD, you're copying the songs from that CD and converting the music on it to a digital audio format (often MP3, but it could also be AAC or a number of other formats), and then saving those files in your iTunes library for playback or syncing to your mobile device.

While it's pretty easy to copy a CD using iTunes, there are a few things you need to know and a few steps to take.

How to Copy CD to iPod or iPhone Using iTunes

How to Copy CD to iPod, step 1


  • To begin the process, you'll want to make sure that you're importing the songs from the CD in the format you prefer. The two most common music formats for use with iOS devices are MP3 and AAC:
  • To choose your preferred format, launch iTunes. Next, open the Preferences window (on a Mac iTunes menu -> Preferences; on a PC Edit menu -> Preferences).
  • On the first tab, towards the bottom is a section labeled When a CD is inserted. In the drop-down menu, there are a number of options there, but you'll likely want to choose either Ask to Import CD or Import CD, which will automatically begin copying the CD to your library.
  • Next, click the Import Settings button next to that drop-down menu. In the window that pops up, select your preferred type of file and your preferred quality. The higher the quality, the better the song will sound, though also the larger the resulting file. I'd recommend 256 kbps for a good balance of sound quality and file size.
  • Click OK in the pop-up. Then click OK in the Preferences window to save this change.

If you're looking for how to make a duplicate of a CD, rather than copying its contents to your hard drive, check out this article on how to burn a CD using iTunes.

Insert CD Into Computer

How to Copy CD to iPod, step 2

With those settings saved, next, insert the CD you want to copy into your computer's CD/DVD drive.

Your computer will process for a moment and the CD will appear in iTunes. Depending on what version of iTunes you have, the CD will appear in different places. In iTunes 11 or higher, click the drop-down menu in the top-left corner of iTunes and select the CD. In iTunes 10 or earlier, look for the CD in the left-hand tray under the Devices menu. If your computer is connected to the Internet, the CD name will appear there, while in the main iTunes window the artist name and song titles will also appear.

If this information doesn't show up, you may be disconnected from the Internet (or the CD doesn't exist in the database that contains album and song names). This won't prevent you from ripping the CD, but it means that the files won't have song or album names. To prevent this, eject the CD, connect to the Internet and re-insert the disc.

Some CDs use a form of digital rights management that makes it difficult to add songs to iTunes (this is not terribly common anymore, but it does still pop up from time to time). This is a controversial practice by record companies and may or may not be maintained. This tutorial does not cover importing songs from these CDs.

Click "Import CD"

How to Copy CD to iPod, step 3

This step is different depending on what version of iTunes you have:

  • In iTunes 11 or higher, you'll find the Import CD button at the top right corner of the window that lists the songs on the CD.
  • In iTunes 10 or earlier, the Import CD button is in the bottom right-hand corner of the iTunes window.

Wherever the button is, click it to begin the process of copying the songs from the CD to your iTunes library and converting them to MP3 or AAC.

At this point, another difference occurs based on the version of iTunes you're running. In iTunes 10 or earlier, the ripping process simply begins. In iTunes 11 or higher, the import settings menu will pop up, giving you a chance to again choose what kind of files you'll create and at what quality. Make your selection and click OK to continue.

Wait for All Songs to Import

How to Copy CD to iPod, step 4

The songs will now import into iTunes. The progress of the import is displayed in the box at the top of the iTunes window. The window will display what song is being imported and how long iTunes estimates it will take to convert that file.

In the list of songs beneath the window, the song that's being converted has a progress icon next to it. Songs that have been successfully imported have green checkmarks next to them.

How long it will take to copy a CD depends on a number of factors, including the speed of your CD drive, your import settings, the length of the songs, and the number of songs. In most cases, though, ripping a CD should only take a few minutes.

When all songs have been imported, your computer will play a chime sound and all songs have the green checkmark next to them.

Check Your iTunes Library and Sync

How to Copy CD to iPod, step 5

With this done, you'll want to confirm that the songs have imported properly. Do so by browsing through your iTunes library in your preferred way to where the files should be. If they're there, you're all set.

If they're not, trying sorting your iTunes library by Recently Added (View menu -> View Options -> check Recently Added; then click on the Recently Added column in iTunes) and scroll to the top. The new files should be there. If you need to edit the song or artists information, read this article on editing ID3 tags.

Once everything is set with the import, eject the CD by clicking on the eject button next to the CD icon in the drop-down menu or the left-hand tray. Then you're ready to sync the songs to your iPod, iPhone, or iPad.