David Kadavy

David Kadavy is author of Mind Management, Not Time Management, The Heart to Start & Design for Hackers.

Posts from the iTunes Category

How to Transfer Music from iPod to Computer

January 20, 2010

My post about transferring my iTunes library got a lot of traffic, and a lot of great comments in which people shared their experiences and expanded on my advice. The post still gets a lot of hits, and people have been asking me for the best techniques of moving music off your iPod onto your computer. Being neck-deep in writing a book, I haven’t a lot of time to experiment directly with the various methods yet, but I thought it would be helpful to round up some resources and talk about the leading techniques that are out there.

Apple doesn’t want you taking music off your iPod and putting it onto a computer, because they’re worried about unauthorized trading. But if your hard drive crashes and take your entire music collection, being blocked from shifting your iPod contents back onto your new laptop is going to be infuriating. Fortunately, there are ways.

The Do-It-Yourself Windows Solution

If you’re trying to get your music onto a Windows machine, it’s not so hard. Windows thinks of your iPod as a simple storage device, and if you know how to find the files, you can grab them as easily as you’d pull them off a thumb drive.

For step-by-step instructions, check out Method One in this easy-to-digest article. That 2007 article is a little outdated — it goes on to suggest several software programs that are no longer available — but its instructions for getting into your iPod’s hidden music folder (where everything will look like alphabet soup) are still good. Depending on your version of Windows, finding the hidden files might be slightly different process (in Windows 7: After clicking on the iPod under My Computer, click on Folder Options, and under the View tab, select “Show hidden files, folders, and drives.”)

But pay attention to that initial step about not having your iTunes set to automatically sync your iPod, or the first thing you do will be to wipe your iPod clean. The writer here had only tested the technique with music files, which works fine (although you lose the metadata). I haven’t tested it yet with videos and other media.

This video also outlines how to browse – and transfer from – your iPod as if it were just another hard drive:

If you’re looking to get the iPod content onto a Mac, you’ll need a software program that will do it for you.

Free Software Solutions

If you want a program that will transfer music from iPod to PC without you having to do the backdoor work yourself, Sharepod comes pretty highly recommended. Download.com gives it a glowing review, and the program promises to grab songs, pictures, videos and other content, as well as your playlists, album art and ratings, from your iPod (or iPhone) and pull them to your PC.

Floola is a freeware program that offers to do a lot of things besides copy music off your iPod, from copying YouTube videos to synchronizing with your Google Calendar. Comments I’ve seen are strongly positive but, like any free program, slightly mixed. Check out reviews at Download.com and Lifehacker for starters.

If music is your only problem, FreeSync for Mac will readily move the files. If you’ve got video, photos, etc., the maker will want you to pay for the more robust version (see below).

Another free solution is iPod Folder, which works for both PCs and Macs. The drawback: Not only does it not do video, it only handles MP3 files, so if you’ve purchased music from the iTunes store, or ripped your CDs into any format other than MP3, this one won’t help you.

Solutions You Can Pay For

There are a number of programs you can buy for, of course. They’ll usually start you out with a free demo that gives you a number of days and songs before you need the license. I’m limiting the scope of this quick survey to free solutions, but here are a couple of pay-to-play programs that kept popping onto my radar:

One leading contender is Senuti, which gives you 30 days or 1,000 songs free before asking $18 for a license. Here’s a full review that walks you through the process of transferring your music from iPod to Mac.

iSkySoft, whose FreeSync for Mac moves songs for free, offers to get everything off your iPod with either of two programs, SyncPod for Mac, which will run you $39, or SyncPod for Windows, whose lower price tag ($19) may be due to the greater number of free solutions for the PC user.

What Else Have You Got?

I won’t get around to actually experimenting with these programs and techniques until either the book hits the shelves or a hard drive failure wipes out my iTunes library, but until that great or disastrous day, this post should get you started. If you’ve used any of these programs or techniques, or have a different or better solution, comment away!

A Mood-Based iTunes Star Rating System

June 24, 2007

As I was trying to assemble a dance playlist for a recent party that I hosted, I realized the shortcomings of the traditional use of the iTunes rating format: the only songs I rated were the songs that I _liked_ – resulting in a large mass of 4-star and 5-star songs – some of which were not uplifting enough to dance to. Thankfully I found enough danceable ones to make the party a success, but clearly I needed a better way to categorize my music.

After much thought, I have devised an emotion-based rating system. Here it goes:


1-star: Melancholy

These songs are friggen’ depressing, and with no hope of recovery. I was surprised at how few of the songs in my collection really fall into this category, so maybe I need to be more liberal in my categorization. What isn’t a surprise is that most of the songs that fall into this category are either Elliott Smith or Bright Eyes songs: “Angeles” and “Lua”, respectively, for example.

2-stars: Wistful

These songs are actually more depressing to listen to than the 1-star songs because they tend to allude – through lyrics, sound, or both – to things just lost or out of reach. This category seems to be dominated by Stars, Bloc Party, and Arcade Fire: “Lover’s Spit,” “Kreuzberg,” and “Intervention” as respective examples.

3-stars: Stable

Given that most modern music is based on The Blues, these may still be a little depressing, but are generally more soothing to listen to. These songs tend to mix subtle happiness and sadness for an overall “Stable” feel. This is where you start to see some Spoon and The Strokes show up: “Lines in the Suit” and “Automatic Stop,” as respective examples.

4-stars: Cool

Now we get into things that are perhaps danceable and have a generally more active feel. The spiraling bass line and breathy vocals of “Stars and Sons” by Broken Social Scene put that song in this category, and that crazy video-game sounding guitar solo in “Born Under Punches” by The Talking Heads is undeniably “Cool.” “Happy” and “joyous” songs would probably go in this category as well.

5-stars: Indestructible

These are those songs that make you want to dance, run really fast, lift heavy objects, leap tall buildings, etc.. This is where much of my hip-hop collection ends up, with N.E.R.D.’s “Brain” and Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ but A ‘G’ Thang” being a couple of favorites; and “Abra Cadaver” (no, not “Kadavy”) by The Hives, and Gang of Four’s “Natural’s Not In It” reppin’ other Genres. The ultimate “Indestructible” song goes – of course – to Spoon with “I Turn My Camera On.”

While there may be some criteria – or even specific characteristics of a song – that I point to to justify my ratings, _it’s music_ and thus this rating system is by no means scientific. I may even rate a song “Cool” today and later decide that it makes me feel “Indestructible” – it may depend upon my mood at the moment I rate the song. I have found the mood-based playlists this rating system yeilds to be pretty reliable. Does it work for you?

P.S. If you change computers, you’ll of course need to transfer your iTunes music library to retain all of these song ratings.

How to Transfer iTunes Library from One Computer to Another

August 19, 2005

[UPDATE – 01/19/2010] – Some of you have left such helpful comments on how to move iTunes to a new computer, I wanted to point them out:

keep on reading »

My iTunes Feature Request: Song Ratings Database

February 05, 2005

Don’t make me rate all of my songs. Having songs rated is great for enhancing the Party Shuffle, and populating the “My Top Rated” playlist, but rating can be a hassle. Use the power of the Internet, and assign all of my songs an average rating, which takes the average rating of each song from all of the iTunes libraries across the world. Then let me override this rating by making my own rating, which is then sent to the database and calculated back into the average rating for that song.

I’m sure Apple has probably already thought of this and is working on it, but hurry up!

[4:16 PM – Title has been edited to be more descriptive]

[4:16 PM – One more thought]
Imagine the sales potential for the iTunes Music Store to know your ratings of songs, and to know what other songs are enjoyed by people who rate that song highly.