Copying songs from an iPod to a Mac or PC

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Q: My computer crashed, the only copies of my music left are on my iPod, and iTunes will only transfer iTunes purchases -- not my own MP3s. How can I get those files back?

A: Since I covered this issue in early 2007, two things have changed in this category of software.

One is the way the iPhone and iPod Touch don't act as an external drive on a Mac or PC. That blocks older iPod copying tools and the expert fix of accessing an iPod's hidden folders.

Another is the demise of simple, free software for the task. Instead, you're looking at trialware programs that will recover songs, podcasts, audiobooks and videos -- along with "metadata" such as play counts and one- to five-star ratings -- in limited numbers or for a limited time.

Two of these applications, however, allow more extensive free-trial use and correctly retrieved audio and video files (but not photos) from an iPhone 3GS.

One, Music Rescue, (, runs in both Windows and Mac OS X. It sells for 10 pounds, or a bit over $16, and will pop up a please-register reminder every 50 or so files.

The other, the Mac-only, formerly-free Senuti ( will recover 1,000 files before asking you to pay $18 to register it.

If either saves your music, pay up. Then remember that if you keep regular backups of your files -- select the "Library" item under iTunes' File menu for its built-in "Back Up to Disc" feature -- you won't need to shell out for extra help the next time disaster strikes.

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or Visit for his Faster Forward blog.

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