Simple ways to copy music off an iPod to a computer’s hard drive

Ghostly protection
For those who aren’t hip to the current state of affairs, I should explain that in order to deter music piracy, iTunes and the iPod were originally designed so that music would travel in one direction only—from the computer to the iPod. This has now changed somewhat. With iTunes 7, when you attach an iPod you own to a computer authorized with your Apple ID, iTunes will offer to copy protected content from the iPod to your computer. But that remains the only Apple-blessed way to move music from the iPod to your computer. When you double-click on an iPod mounted on a computer, you’ll find no folder within that holds the device’s music. Yet the music has to be there somewhere.

It is. It’s invisible. Invisible?
Yes. When Apple designed the iPod’s copy-protection scheme it did so understanding one of the fundamental laws of this new millennium: That which can be locked will be unlocked (by a 12-year-old boy).

Rather than dump millions of dollars into a complicated copy-protection scheme—which would almost immediately be broken by one of these wily 12-year-olds—the company did the wise thing and protected the iPod in such a way that honest folks wouldn’t be tempted to pilfer music off another’s iPod. The company’s engineers did so by doing nothing more than making the iPod’s music folder invisible. Therefore, the trick to getting the music off the iPod is accessing this invisible folder.

Brute force techniques

Though fairly graceless, one of the easiest ways to recover your music from an iPod is to make the iPod’s music folder visible and then drag it over to your computer’s desktop. Once there, simply add that folder (and the music within) to iTunes by dragging the folder into iTunes’main window or using the program’s Add to Library command (found in the File menu). Here’s how to do this on either a Mac or a Windows PC.

Macintosh The Mac doesn’t include a utility for making invisible files visible so you must download one. My favorite tool for this job is Marcel Bresink’s free TinkerTool. Once you’ve downloaded TinkerTool, follow these steps:

Plug in the iPod.
If iTunes doesn’t launch automatically, launch it.
If the music library on your iPod is not linked to iTunes’music library (as would be the case when you’re restoring your music library from your iPod to a fresh copy of iTunes installed on a reformatted drive), iTunes will ask if you’d like to sync the contents of the iPod with the contents of the iTunes library. Click Cancel.
Select the iPod in iTunes’Source list and make sure the Summary tab in iTunes 7′s main window is selected.
Enable the Manually Manage Music option as well as the Enable Disk Use option.
Launch TinkerTool and click the Finder tab.
Enable the Show Hidden and System Files option.
Click Relaunch Finder.
Move to the Finder and double-click on the iPod’s icon on the Desktop.
You’ll discover that several more items now appear in the iPod window. Among them is a folder called iPod_Control.
Double-click the iPod_Control folder.
Inside the iPod_Control folder you’ll find a variety of folders. The one you care about is the Music folder.
Drag the Music folder to your Mac’s Desktop to copy it to your computer. As the name implies, this is where music is stored on the iPod.

Related: Best play iTunes M4V files on Galaxy Nexus Mac

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