HOW TO: Copy Music & Movies Off
Your iPod, iPad or iPhone
Created: 08/12/2002 | Updated: 09/08/2011 | By: Staff | Comments

copy filesHas a virus or hard drive crash wiped out your entire music and video collection? What a massive loss... imported CD's, ripped DVD's, downloaded files from the Internet and most importantly, all that money you've spent in the iTunes Store!

Is it all really gone? Maybe not. Your music and movie files are still on your iPod, iPad or iPhone right? Let's get it all back. Here's how to rip media off your iPod, iPad or iPhone and save it back to your computer.


    • Any iPod, iPad or iPhone
    • A computer with iTunes installed and enough hard drive space to recover all the media from your iPod/iPhone
itunesNERD NOTE: The name iPod was proposed by Vinnie Chieco, a freelance copywriter, who (with others) was called by Apple to figure out how to introduce the new player to the public. After Chieco saw a prototype, he thought of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and the phrase "Open the pod bay door, Hal!", which refers to the white EVA Pods of the Discovery One spaceship.

The Easy Way

ripiTunes won't let you, but there are other non-Apple applications that will let you easily "rip" music off your iPod, iPad or iPhone.

If you are the type of person who likes to buy software in a box with a manual, then a couple good programs to try are Pod Rescue (rating) or the much cheaper Tune Transfer (rating).


But who wants to wait for shipping? If you need an instant download solution, then try one of Xilisoft's Magic apps. They are all great programs, cost under $20 and can be downloaded and installed on your computer in a matter of moments.

Xilisoft iPod Magic

Xilisoft iPad Magic

Xilisoft iPhone Magic

copy media off iphone

walletThe Cheaper Way (but it ain't easy)

Want a free solution? No problem. However please keep in mind that the "cheap way" is also the "hard way." The following procedures won't be very easy for the average user. If you aren't super savvy with computers, then please try option #1.

There are 2 free ways to rip media off your iPod, iPad or iPhone:

    1. with a free helper application
    2. using advanced search techniques
free "ripping" options
box Option #1: With a Helper Application

ipodDepending on what app you use, the exact steps below will vary. In general, the "ripping" procedure for copying files off your iPod or iPhone will go like this:

  1. Download a free or trial version of a "ripping" program (see below) and install it on your computer. There are many free or shareware applications for both Mac and PC that will copy content off your iPod or iPhone.

    Here are a few free or trial version applications:

  2. Make a new folder somewhere on your computer that will have enough hard drive space to hold all the music and video files from your iPod/iPhone.

  3. Using the ripping application, copy the media off your iPod, iPad or iPhone and put it all into that folder.

  4. It's a good idea to archive your media at this point. Burn all your music and movies onto CDs, DVD-ROMs, or copy them onto an external USB hard drive.

  5. itunesitunesDrag that folder into the main iTunes window. Your files will then import into iTunes. This make take several minutes depending on the amount of media you are restoring and your computer's processing power.

boxWithout a Helper Application:

Here's a way to quickly get files off a PC iPod without any extra software.

  1. Plug your iPod or iPhone into your computer.
  2. From the Desktop, go to My Computer and find the iPod (usually designated by a drive letter. i e. E: or F:)
  3. Open the damn thing.
  4. Go to Tools > Folder Options > View (the tab) > scroll to Show Hidden Files and Folders and click it.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Go back to your iPod folder/drive, there you will find a new folder called iPod_Control
  7. Open it.
  8. The Music folder in it will have a bunch of folders named F00, F01 and so on. THEY HAVE YOUR MP3s AND VIDEOS. Look through the folders to find your stuff.
  9. You can also use the Search utility in Windows and search for a particular audio file on your iPod. Just make sure you specify to search in Hidden Files or Folders. There, a solution that requires no extra software, just a few extra brain cells.
box box

ipod powerbookWhy Apple prevents you from easily copying files off your iPod, iPad or iPhone:

Copying files off your iPod, iPad or iPhone can be used for good or evil. Of course, ripping media off your iPod is an excellent last resort when you've lost it from your computer. However, being able to copy files off your iPod/iPhone also makes it very easy to steal thousands songs and videos in a matter of minutes. With ultra-fast USB 2.0 speeds, stealing an entire iTunes library could take as little as 5 minutes. Worse yet, someone could easily share all this media on the Internet using BitTorrent.

To help appease the music and movie industries, Apple disabled the ability to easily copy media off your iPod, iPad or iPhone.

NERD NOTE: Macs can read both Mac and PC disks (including iPods). So both Mac and PC iPods can be used on Mac computers.
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