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How to use your iPod to move your music to a new computer

Because your iPod contains a high-capacity drive, you can use it to move all your music from your old computer to the new one.

Notes before you start:

Switch the iPod to manual update and enable disk use

The first thing you need to do is verify that you have configured your iPod to enable disk use. To do this:

  1. Open iTunes on your old computer.
  2. Connect your iPod to your old computer and wait for it to appear in iTunes.
  3. Select your iPod on the left side of the iTunes window under the Devices section to display your iPod preferences.
  4. Click the Summary tab in the main iTunes window.
  5. Select the "Manually manage music" checkbox. This will also select Enable disk use. 

  6. A message appears that says:
    "Disabling automatic update requires manually unmounting the iPod before each disconnect."
    Click OK in the message window.
  7. Click Apply in bottom right of the iTunes window.

Locating and consolidating the iTunes Media folder

Consolidating will make sure all of your content is in the same location. Look in iTunes Preferences to determine the location of your iTunes Media folder.

  1. Open iTunes Preferences:
    Mac: Choose iTunes > Preferences.
    Windows: Choose Edit > Preferences.
  2. Click Advanced and note the location of your iTunes Media folder.
  3. If you're not going to be able to complete these steps all at once, it's a good idea to make sure that any new content gets added to the iTunes Music folder. If you're not able to finish these steps, select the "Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library" if it's not already selected. This will ensure any content you add before finishing these steps gets added to the iTunes Music folder.
  4. Click OK.
  5. For iTunes 9 or later choose FileLIbrary > Organize Library > Consolidate Files.
    For iTunes 8.2.1 or later choose File > Library > Consolidate.
    Note: A window may appear that reads: "Consolidating your library will copy all of your music into the iTunes Media folder. This cannot be undone."
  6. Click Consolidate.
    Note: Clicking Consolidate will cause iTunes to copy all of your music files to another location on your computer. You will need to manually remove the files from their previous locations if you are concerned about drive space. If your computer does not have enough hard-drive space this process will not work correctly. Please speak to your computer manufacturer or Microsoft for more information on how to obtain more space to perform this action.


  7.  

Is there enough room on the iPod?

iPod shares its hard disk space between the songs that iTunes puts on it and any files you've added when using its disk mode. To transfer music with your iPod, you need enough free space to hold a copy of all your music files in addition to any copies that may already have been placed by iTunes (this is because non-purchased songs placed on the iPod by iTunes cannot be copied off the iPod while in disk mode). To figure out how much space you have on your iPod:

  1. Open iTunes on your old computer.
  2. Click on Music on the left side of the iTunes window. The size of your Music library appears at the bottom of the iTunes window:
    "3457 items... 20.17 GB"
    Repeat this for the other libraries (Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, Audiobooks, Applications, and Ringtones). Add these to get the total space required to consolidate your library.
  3. Connect your iPod to your old computer and wait for it to appear in iTunes.
  4. Click iPod under Devices on the left side of iTunes.
  5. The amount of free space on iPod appears near the bottom of the iTunes window:
    Capacity: 7.41 GB, Free: 7.36 GB
  6. If the amount of free space left on your iPod is larger than your combined libraries, skip to Copy iTunes folder to iPod.

Free up space on iPod

If your library is larger than the amount of free space on your iPod, you'll need to free up some space on it. Here's how:

  1. Click iPod on the left side of the iTunes window.
  2. Click on the Music option listed under iPod. (If you do not see this option, click the gray arrow next to the iPod to reveal the iPod's contents).
  3. Click any song that appears in the main part of the iTunes window (to the right).
  4. Choose Edit > Select All.

    Important: The next step will delete all music from your iPod. If you have been using automatic update you don't need to worry, because all your music is also on your computer. If you have not been using automatic update, and your iPod has music on it from another source (other than your iTunes library), following the next step will delete that music.
     
  5. Press Delete on the keyboard. If you see a message that says "Are you sure you want to remove the selected items from the list?", click Yes.

Copy iTunes folder to iPod

To copy all your music files (including the library file that holds all your playlists and other settings) to your iPod:

  1. Quit iTunes.
  2. Locate your iPod:
    Mac OS X: On the desktop
    Windows: In My Computer
  3. Locate your iTunes folder:
    Mac OS X: /Users/username/Music
    Windows: \Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\My Music\
  4. Drag the iTunes folder to the iPod. This can take a while if you have a lot of songs.

    From your old Mac to the iPod

    [Old Mac to iPod Screenshot]

    From your old Windows PC to the iPod
  5. When the copy completes open iTunes.
  6. Select iPod on the left side of the iTunes window.
  7. Click the Eject button to the right of the iPod icon (or choose Controls > Eject iPod).
  8. Disconnect iPod from the computer when the "Do not disconnect" message no longer appears on the iPod screen.

Get iTunes ready on your new computer

To get iTunes ready to accept all your music on your new computer:

  1. Download and install the latest version of iTunes.
  2. Open iTunes on your new computer. If this is your first time to open iTunes on your new computer you will need to choose your options in the iTunes Setup Assistant.
  3. Connect iPod to your new computer.

Back up any music that's already on your new computer

Do you already have some music showing up in your Library in iTunes on the new computer? If so follow these steps to make sure this music gets saved (You can see how to add it back into iTunes in the Adding music on new computer back in section below). If not you can skip down to the Copy music to new computer section.

  1. Open iTunes Preferences Mac OS X:
    Choose iTunes > Preferences.
    Windows: Choose Edit  > Preferences.
  2. Click the Advanced tab.
  3. Click the Reset button next to iTunes Media folder location.

    [Reset Screenshot]

  4. Click OK.
  5. Choose File > Library > Consolidate Library. An alert message appears: "Consolidating your library will copy all of your music into the iTunes music folder. This cannot be undone."
  6. Click Consolidate.
  7. Quit iTunes.

Copy music to new computer

To copy all your music files (including the library file that holds all your playlists and other settings) to your new computer:

  1. Locate your Music folder (Mac OS X) or your My Music folder (Windows) on your new computer:
    Mac OS X: /Users/username/Music
    Windows: \Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\My Music\
  2. Drag the iTunes folder in this location out to the desktop.

    [iTunes to Desktop Screenshot]

    From the Music folder to the Desktop on your new Mac


    [iTunes to Windows Desktop Screenshot]
    From the My Music folder to the Desktop on your new PC
     
  3. Locate the iPod on the new computer:
    Mac OS X: On the desktop.
    Windows: In My Computer.
  4. Double-click on the iPod icon to open it.
  5. Drag the iTunes folder from the iPod to the Music folder (Mac OS X) or My Music Folder (Windows) on your new computer. This can take a while if you have a lot of songs.

    [iTunes to Music Folder Screenshot]

    From the iPod to the Music folder on your new Mac

    [iPod to New Mac Screenshot]

    From the iPod to the My Music folder on your new PC
  6. Open iTunes.

There you go. All your music, playlists, and other information like play counts and ratings have all been moved from your old computer to your new one.

Add existing music on new computer back in

If you already had some music on your new computer, and you want to incorporate it into the music you just moved from your old computer:

  1. Choose File > Add to Library (Mac OS X) or Add Folder to Library (Windows).
  2. Navigate to the iTunes folder on your Desktop.
  3. Click Choose (Mac OS X) or OK (Windows).

Note: Information like ratings and play count are not preserved for these songs.

Free up room on the iPod

To free up room on your iPod so iTunes can put all your music back on it:

  1. Quit iTunes.
  2. Drag the iTunes folder out of the iPod to the Trash (Mac OS X) or Recycle Bin (Windows).
    Mac OS X: Choose File > Empty Trash.
    Windows: A Confirm Folder Delete window appears. Click Yes.

Switch the iPod back to automatic update

To set up your iPod to be updated with all your music from iTunes on your new computer:

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Select  iPod on the left side of the iTunes window and click the Music tab in the iPod Settings.
  3. Click the “Sync music” option, and the “All songs and playlists” option. An alert message appears:
    "Are you sure you want to enable automatic updating? All existing songs and playlist on the iPod "ipod name" will be replaced with songs and playlists from the iTunes music library."

    Optional: Uncheck the Enable disk use checkbox in the Summary tab if you don't want to use the iPod as a disk. If you leave this option checked you need to eject your iPod from iTunes before you disconnect the iPod from your computer.

  4. Click Apply.

The iPod update begins. All your music is now on your new computer, and after the update completes it will be on your iPod again too.

Additional Information

As an alternative to using your iPod to move music, iTunes 8 or later includes a backup feature that will archive your entire library to CD or DVD, including ratings and playcounts, which can be moved to another computer. Home Sharing in iTunes 9 is another option that enables you to move your iTunes library. You can stream and transfer music, videos, and more with up to five other computers on your local network with no need to burn discs.

Important: Information about products not manufactured by Apple is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute Apple’s recommendation or endorsement. Please contact the vendor for additional information.
Last Modified: Aug 25, 2014
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  • Last Modified: Aug 25, 2014
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