How to Copy Music From Your iPod to a Mac

Transfer your music library along with movies, podcasts, and videos

What to Know

  • Open iTunes 7 or later on your Mac. Disable the syncing process.
  • Choose Account > Authorizations > Authorize This Computer. Select Authorize.
  • Connect the iPod to the Mac with the iPod cable and select your device. Select Transfer Purchases.

This article explains how to transfer music from your iPod to your Mac using iTunes. It applies to older iPods only, including the iPod Classic, Nano, or Shuffle, not the iPod touch or iPhone. If you're using macOS Catalina or later, access your iTunes library via Apple Music.

Transfer iPod Music to a Mac With iTunes 7 or Later

While Apple has discontinued making all iPods except the iPod touch, there are still plenty of older iPods in use or available secondhand, such as the iPod Classic, Nano, and Shuffle. If you want to enjoy your iPod tunes on a new Mac, transfer your legally purchased iTunes content.

Before you connect your iPod to your Mac, it's important to stop iTunes from erasing your music while syncing (see instructions later in this article). After you prevent the syncing process, here's how the transfer works in Macs with iTunes 7 or later.

  1. Open iTunes on your Mac.

  2. Select Account > Authorizations > Authorize This Computer.

  3. Select Authorize. Your computer is now authorized to accept transfers.

  4. Connect your iPod to your Mac using the sync cable and then select your device.

    If your iPod drive appears empty, reveal the hidden files and folders on your computer. On your Mac, hold down the Cmd+Shift+Period keys to toggle hidden folders on or off.

  5. In the window that appears, select Transfer Purchases. If you don't see Transfer Purchases, select File > Devices > Transfer Purchases From [device].

  6. Your music automatically transfers from the iPod to your Mac.

How to Prevent iTunes From Syncing With Your iPod

Before you connect your iPod to your Mac, stop iTunes from erasing your music while syncing. If you connect the device without doing this, iTunes overwrites your iPod music library with the contents of your iTunes library. Turn off this feature.

For Macs running iTunes, before syncing your iPod, open iTunes and go to iTunes > Preferences. Select the Devices tab and check the box that says Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically. Select OK and close iTunes.

For Macs running macOS Catalina and newer, open the device in Finder and uncheck Automatically sync when this iPhone is connected.

For Older Versions of iTunes

If you're using a pre-7 version of iTunes, the process is a little more complicated and involves three stages: Disable syncing, find and copy your music, and add the recovered music back to iTunes.

Disable Syncing in Old iTunes Versions

To disable syncing, hold down the Command+Option keys while you're connecting your iPod to your computer. Don't release these keys until you see your iPod display in iTunes. This stops iTunes from automatically syncing when it detects the iPod.

Find and Copy Your Music

The Music folder on your iPod contains your music, movie, and video files. The folders represent your various playlists, and the files in each folder are the media files, music, audiobooks, podcasts, or videos associated with that particular playlist.

The filenames aren't intuitive, but the internal ID3 tags are all intact, so iTunes can read them.

  1. Connect your iPod to your Mac and double-click the iPod icon on your desktop, or select the iPod's name in the Finder window's sidebar.

  2. Open the iPod Control folder.

  3. Open the Music folder. The Music folder contains your music, movie, and video files.

  4. Use Finder to drag and drop the files to an appropriate location, such as a new folder on your desktop called iPod Recovered, for example.

  5. Drag the Music folder from your iPod to the newly created folder on your Mac.

  6. The copying process begins. It could take a while, depending on the amount of data on your iPod.

Add the Recovered Music Back to iTunes

After your files have copied to the new folder, add them back into iTunes on the Mac.

  1. Select Preferences from the iTunes menu.

  2. Select the Advanced tab.

  3. Place a check mark next to Keep iTunes Music folder organized.

  4. Place a check mark next to Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library.

    iTunes with Advanced Preferences highlighted and iTunes preferences selected
  5. Select OK.

  6. From the iTunes File menu, select Add to Library.

  7. Browse to the folder that contains your recovered iPod music.

  8. Select Open. iTunes copies the files to its library and reads the ID3 tags to set each song's name, artist, and album genre.

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