How do I transfer music from my old iPod?

This article provides step-by-step instructions for transferring music from an old iPod to a computer or new device. With over 400 million iPods sold since 2001, many people still have these devices and their music collections stored on them. While Apple has discontinued the iPod product line, the music on those devices doesn’t have to disappear. There are several methods for getting that music off the iPod and onto a new device.

This guide will cover determining your iPod model, using iTunes to sync and transfer, migration tools, manually transferring files, moving playlists, transferring photos, and troubleshooting advice. With the right steps, you can access the music and more that you have stored on your iPod so it can live on in a new home.

Determine Your iPod Model

The first step to transferring music from your old iPod is identifying which specific model you have, since the process can vary depending on the generation. Here are some tips for figuring out your iPod model:

Check the back of your iPod for the model number. This is printed directly on the casing. For example, you may see “A1288” which indicates a 6th generation iPod Touch.

Look at the dock connector on the bottom of the iPod. 30-pin connectors are generally older models, Lightning connectors are newer. The original iPods had Firewire connectors.

Go to Settings > General > About to see the model name, like “iPod touch” or “iPod nano.” This can help narrow it down.

Compare your iPod visually to images online to identify the generation. For example, 1st generation iPod Nanos are taller and thinner compared to later models.

Check the software version under Settings > General > Software Version. This can give a clue as to the release date.

Consult Apple’s identify your iPod model guide which includes images of each model.

Knowing the specific model will ensure you use the proper transfer process and cables/connectors for that iPod generation.

Transfer With iTunes

iTunes is the easiest way to transfer music from an old iPod to a computer. Here are the steps to transfer your iPod’s music library via iTunes:

  1. Connect your iPod to your computer using the USB cable that came with the iPod. iTunes should automatically detect the device and open.
  2. In iTunes, click on the device icon in the top left corner. This will show you the contents of your iPod.
  3. On the left sidebar in iTunes, click on Music to view all the songs on your iPod. You can transfer the entire music library or select individual songs and playlists to transfer.
  4. To transfer everything, go to File > Library > Transfer Purchases from iPod. This will copy all the music on your iPod into your iTunes library on your computer.
  5. To transfer select music, hold down Ctrl on Windows or Command on Mac to select multiple songs/playlists. Then right click on the selected items and choose Add to Library.
  6. Sync your iPod to finish transferring the music and update your device.

Once the transfer is complete, you’ll have a copy of your iPod’s music library safely stored in iTunes on your computer. You can then manage it through the iTunes software as you normally would. Refer to Apple’s iTunes guide for more details on transferring music from an iPod.

Migration Tools

If you don’t want to use iTunes to transfer your music, there are 3rd party migration tools you can use as well. These tools provide an alternative way to transfer music, playlists, and other content from an iPod to a computer without iTunes.

For example, iPod to iTunes Transfer is a free desktop application available for both Mac and Windows that can transfer music libraries from an iPod to iTunes. It has options to transfer music based on playlists, genres, artists or albums. The transfer is fast and it preserves all the metadata like song details and album art.

Other iPod migration tools include CopyTrans Manager, SynciOS, PodTrans and iTools. These tools can transfer music, playlists, photos, videos, contacts, messages and more between an iPod and computer. They provide a simple drag and drop interface to copy content easily.

The main advantage of using a dedicated iPod transfer tool is that you don’t need iTunes at all. They provide a direct transfer method between the iPod and computer. Many also offer options to selectively transfer content, unlike iTunes which syncs the entire library.

Manually Transfer Files

For more advanced users who want more control, you can manually locate the music files on your iPod and copy them over to your computer. Here’s how:

1. Connect your iPod to your computer using the USB cable. Open your iPod folder on your computer.

2. Navigate to the folder where your music is stored. This is usually in the “iPod_Control/Music” folder.

3. Select all the music files you want to transfer and copy them. Paste the files into a folder on your computer.

This method allows you to see all the files on your iPod and transfer specific songs or albums. It takes more time but gives you more control over exactly which files get transferred.

For help locating where your iPod music is stored, refer to this guide.

Transfer Playlists

One of the best features of the iPod and iTunes is the ability to create customized playlists. When getting a new iPod, you’ll want to transfer over your cherished playlists from the old device. Here’s how to do it:

First, connect your old iPod to your computer and open iTunes. Go to the Playlists section and select all the playlists you want to transfer by checking the box next to them. Click the “File” menu and select “Library” then “Export Playlist” to save them as .xml files on your computer.

Next, connect your new iPod and launch iTunes. Click “File” then “Library” and choose “Import Playlist” to load the .xml files you exported. This will recreate your playlists on the new device. You can rearrange songs if needed.

Alternatively, use migration software like TouchCopy (1) to seamlessly transfer playlists from iPod to iPod. This automates the process.

After migration, double check that your playlists transferred correctly. Make sure all the right songs are there and in the right order. Now you can enjoy your favorite playlists on your new iPod!

Transfer Photos

The easiest way to transfer photos from an iPod to a computer is by using the latest version of iTunes. Connect your iPod to your computer, open iTunes, and select your device. Go to the Photos tab and check “Sync photos from” and select the option to copy photos to your computer. Click Apply to start transferring your iPod’s photos to the Pictures folder on your computer. Older versions of iTunes also supported this photo transfer process.

If you don’t want to use iTunes, you can use the free software EaseUS MobiMover to transfer photos from your iPod to your PC [1]. With this method, connect your iPod, launch the software, select “Phone to PC”, and choose which photos to transfer. The photos will save directly to your computer. Alternatively, the Wondershare MobileTrans software offers similar iPod to computer photo transfer capabilities.

You can also manually access the iPod’s files and copy the photos off of it. On a Windows PC this is done by going to My Computer, locating the iPod drive, and copying the photos out of the DCIM folder. On a Mac, open Image Capture to access the iPod’s photos and save them to your computer.


If you run into issues transferring your music from an old iPod, there are some troubleshooting steps you can try:

  • Make sure your iPod and computer are connected properly via the USB cable. Try disconnecting and reconnecting the devices.
  • Check for the latest version of iTunes and update if available. Older versions may have compatibility issues (Source).
  • Restart both the iPod and computer. This can clear out any software glitches.
  • On a Windows PC, run Error Checking by right clicking the iPod drive, selecting Properties > Tools > Check Now (Source).
  • If using a migration tool, check for any updates and reinstall the software.
  • As a last resort, manually transfer music files by copying them directly from the iPod to your computer (Source).

If you still can’t get a successful transfer, your iPod hardware may be damaged. You can visit an Apple store for troubleshooting help or consider upgrading to a newer model.

Alternative Options

If you don’t actually need to transfer the music files themselves off your iPod, there are some alternative options to consider. Many people now use cloud-based music storage and streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music instead of storing songs locally on a device. With these services, you can stream music on demand rather than having to transfer files. If you have playlists and albums you’ve purchased on iTunes in the past, you may be able to transfer those to Apple Music so you can stream them there.

Another option is to simply stop using your iPod for music playback and repurpose it. For example, you could use it as an external hard drive for file storage and transfers. Or if you want to keep listening to music on the go, consider replacing your old iPod with a newer device like an iPhone, Android phone, or another portable media player. Many of these sync with services like Apple Music and Spotify so you can easily stream your music library.

The main point is that you don’t necessarily have to transfer the music files themselves off your old iPod. For many people today, streaming music services are more convenient than managing an offline music library. Consider whether streaming or getting a newer device might be an easier alternative to spending time transferring old music files.


As the original iPod models become older, many people still have music libraries stored on these devices that they want to transfer elsewhere. Following the steps outlined in this article to use iTunes, migration tools, or manual file transfers, you can successfully get all of your music off of your old iPod.

The key steps are identifying your specific iPod model, using the appropriate software whether iTunes or a dedicated migration tool, transferring over playlists, photos, videos and other media separately if needed, and troubleshooting any issues with incomplete transfers.

The main benefits of transferring your music library off an aging iPod are being able to preserve all of your saved media before the device stops working, consolidate your music collection in one place on your computer or new device, and free up the storage space on your iPod if you want to reuse it.

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