First, backup, backup, backup. If you don’t have a good backup plan for your Mac’s hard drive, get one. Why? Try this: You’ve got 3,000 songs on iTunes and in your iPod.
One day, your Mac wakes up dead. Hard drive died. iTunes and all your music from iTunes Music Store is gone. What do you do?
You’ll probably sweat a little. You may want to sit down and take a little Ginger Ale or Seven-Up as both may ease that queezy feeling in your stomach.
Your Mac’s hard drive is fried, you don’t have a backup, iTunes is history, and so are the 1,000 songs you’ve purchased from the iTunes Music Store.
Except, they’re all still on your iPod, right? So how do you move those songs from your iPod to a new install of Mac OS X and iTunes and not destroy them all? After all, iTunes is a one way street.
There’s really a number of Mac applications that’ll do the trick, but let me focus on two. One is Mac only. The other is Mac and Windows (in case you have underprivileged friends or relatives).
This is my favorite ‘music restore and re-synchronize’ application for my Mac—iPod.iTunes. It’s also a bit different, in that it’ll synchronize back to your Mac, too (assuming it hasn’t died).
That’s handy, as the re-synchronization is incremental and takes much less time.
iPod.iTunes was one of the original ‘restore music’ apps for the iPod and has a healthy feature list. Basic synchronization is one click.
Other options include manual sync and support for the iPod’s “On The Go” playlist feature. The file naming scheme is the same as in iTunes, so Mac users won’t find funny names all over the place (not the same as Windows).
All the basic iPod and iTunes file formats are supported: MP3, AAC, Protected AAC (songs you buy from the iTunes Music Store). This includes Audible audio books, Podcasts, Apple’s Lossless Format.
Another neat feature in iPod.iTunes is support for Windows-formatted iPods. Assume your iPod is used on Windows, your PC hard drive gets fried, and you decide to make the “switch” to a new Mac. iPod.iTunes can handle it.
The feature list is extensive. iPod.iTunes can be used to synchronize the music on different Macs (up to the number of Macs allowed by the iTunes Music Store’s limitations), clone an iPod, or simply transfer a complete iTunes music library from one Mac to another by using the iPod.
Now, what if you’re a Windows user? Or a Linux user (yes, iPods can run on Linux)?
iPod Music Liberator
Check out iPod Music Liberator as the feature set is similar to iPod.iTunes, though works on other platforms.
The iPod Music Liberator allows you to copy music, playlists, and ratings from your iPod to any computer—Mac, Windows, Linux, filling in that critical and missing feature of iTunes.
iPod Music Liberator does a few things different, too. If you want, you can rename your songs; artist, album, and song name.
When you’re bringing music back from the iPod to your computer, you can automatically organize the music into folders of your choosing; artist or album, or just put it all into one folder.
There’s also a nifty search function which lets you find specific songs on your iPod and only copy those back to your computer. Incremental song backukp is also supported if you simply need to re-synchronize the iPod to the computer.
The only real problem with iTunes, Mac or Windows, is that it’s a one way street. Music flows from iTunes to your iPod. Both of these applications let you move back to the computer from the iPod. iPod Music Liberator is $24.99 and iPod.iTunes is $29 EUR (about $35.00)
Jack D. Miller
That exact scenario happened to me. I’d just set up a new Mac for Carol and the hard drive fried itself within the first week. All Carol’s iTunes Music Store music was on that Mac and we didn’t have a backup setup yet.
Tera recommended iPod.iTunes and we had everything going again within an hour. Simple.
My neighbor’s PC hard drive crashed and took down everything. When she finally got a new PC, we set up iPod Music Liberator to bring all her songs back. She didn’t have any music from iTMS but had over 2,000 songs from CDs. That saved half a day of work since she didn’t have to move all the music from the CDs to iTunes.
Tera Jean Patricks
I bought iPod.iTunes early on and it’s worked great. So far, I’ve only had to use it once, but that one time (before I had multiple backups) saved me a day.
Carol Mary Miller
Ditto what Jack said. This is a feature Apple should have in iTunes already.