Section 5.3. The Unspeakable Act: iPod to Mac Copying


5.3. The Unspeakable Act: iPod to Mac Copying

The iPod was designed to be the destination of a one-way trip for your tunes: music slides down the cable to the iPod, but songs on the player never make the trip back to the Mac.

This design was perfectly intentional on the part of its creators . As noted earlier, Apple's position appears on a sticker on every iPod: "Don't steal music."If the iPod let you copy music both ways, people might be tempted to turn the device into a pocket music-sharing service, capable of copying free copyrighted songs from computer to computer.

The truth is, though, that not everyone who wants to upload songs from the iPod to a computer is stealing music. You may have perfectly legitimate reasons for wanting to be able to do so.

For example, say your computer's hard drive self-destructs, vaporizing the 945 MP3 files that you've made from your paid-for CD collection. You legally own those copies. Shouldn't you have the right to retrieve them from your own iPod?

Most people would answer "yes." Some might even thump their fists on the table for emphasis.

And then they would clear their throats and ask,"Well, how can I do it, should I ever need to copy files off my iPod?"


Note: Once again, the following methods are printed here not to encourage you to steal music, but instead to help you back up and manage the songs that you already own.

5.3.1. The Hidden World of the iPod

Turning the iPod into a FireWire hard drive lets you copy everyday computer files back and forth from your Mac. But when it comes to your music files, you won't even be able to find them. The iPod and its music management programs use a special database for storing and organizing the music filesand it's invisible.

The name of the super-secret invisible iPod music folder is called iPod_Control, and there are software utilities that can make it visible. (You can download them from the "Missing CD" page of www.missingmanuals.com.) For example:

5.3.1.1. iPod Viewer

For beginners , the nicely designed iPod Viewer program (Figure 5-5) makes the whole copying-to-the-Mac procedure very simple.

Once you install iPod Viewer, open the program with your iPod attached to the Mac; click your Poddy little pal in the list. The program's preferences let you arrange your songs in the order you want. Then, when you click the Import From iPod button at the top of the iPod Viewer window (Figure 5-5), the program pulls in the list of everything on the iPod.

Figure 5-5. The free iPod Viewer program lets you select all or just some of the songs you want to copy over to the Mac. The program also gives you the option of deciding what folder to put the imported songs into. Just click the Transfer Songs button at the top of the window to start copying. You can also transfer entire playlists, or make a CD of the imported files by clicking the Burn Data CD button.


5.3.1.2. OmniWeb

Yes, OmniWeb is a Web browser. But in addition to surfing the Net with it, you can also surf the hidden contents of your iPod and copy songs back to your computer. The OmniWeb browser sells for $30, but you can download a trial copy from the "Missing CD" page at www.missingmanuals.com. (Although paying for a Web browser may seem like a bizarre idea, OmniWeb has some wonderful features like saved browsing sessions, ad-blocking, and automatic bookmark-updating.)

To use OmniWeb to browse the iPod, drag the iPod icon off your desktop and into the browser window.

A list of all the files on the iPod appears, including the elusive iPod_Control folder. Double-click iPod_Control, and then the folder within it titled Music. You see a list of folders, all starting with F. Within these folders lie your songs. Double-click the songs you want to copy to the Mac; OmniWeb does the rest.

5.3.1.3. iPod.iTunes

Built for speed, iPod.iTunes keeps the Mac and iPod constantly in sync with each other, and only copies songs not found in the iTunes library. In case of a disastrous hard Mac drive crash, iPod.iTunes can fully restore music files and playlists in the iPod, and can even fix those accidents where you mistakenly delete music from iTunes.

The program also makes it possible to clone an iPod, making an exact duplicate of its contents, and can synchronize music and playlists together or separately. Once installed, iPod.iTunes walks you through its synchronization procedure in great detail.

5.3.1.4. Senuti

No, it's not the Latin verb meaning "to rock out." The name Senuti doesn't look like much until you read it backwards , and then the name of this clever little free program becomes all too clear, especially when you consider its tag line: Everything in reverse .

Figure 5-6. Senuti's window looks just like the iTunes main window, except for the Copy button at the top. To use the program, just connect your iPod and start Senuti so it can display the contents of your player. Once you find the tracks you're looking for, click to select them and then tap the Copy button to send them to the Mac's hard drive.


Senuti, as shown in Figure 5-6, sports a decidely familiar iTunesey look, with one big exceptiona big ol' Copy button in the top right corner. Once you get your iPod connected to the Mac and start up Senuti, the program displays all the music tracks and playlists nestled inside your Pod friend.

As with iTunes, you can click the top of a column in the Senuti window to sort the list by artist, album, or song name for easy picking, depending on what you need to collect from the iPod's drive. Click a playlist's icon on the left side of the window or click to select the tracks you want to grab from the iPod's library, and then click the Copy button to bring the selected music home to your Mac's hard drive.

5.3.1.5. TinkerTool

You know how in those Invisible Man movies, people could only see him if he had a hat or a coat or a mask on, or spilled something on his invisible self? It was all about revealing the hidden aspects.

You can do the same thing with your invisible iPod files with the aid of some helpful freeware by way of Germany. TinkerTool, available on the "Missing CD" page at www.missingmanuals.com, is a system utility for Mac OS X that can make hidden files visible.

Figure 5-7. Top: Turn on the box in the Finder options to show hidden and system files in the TinkerTool Finder preferences box, and you'll see a lot more on your iPod after you relaunch the Finder.
Bottom: With the hidden files out in the open courtesy of TinkerTool, you can browse the iPod's contents like any other hard drive.


Once you have installed TinkerTool on your Mac, you'll see an icon for it in System Preferences. Click TinkerTool; in the box that pops up, turn on "Show hidden and system files," and then click the Relaunch Finder button. Figure 5-7 shows the way.

When the Finder restarts, you see all the formerly secret invisible system files right there on your screen, as though someone had spilled paint on the Invisible Man. You see a lot of .DS_Stores all over the place, but step over them and connect your iPod to the Mac.

Double-click the iPod's icon to see all the files that live on it, including the iPod_Control folder that holds all of your music files (Figure 5-7, bottom). You can click through the folders from iPod_Control Music F00 (all the iPods music folders are named F-something) and drag the files you wish to copy to your Mac's own hard drive.