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Deemable Tech

Ask Deemable Tech: How Do I Transfer My iTunes Account To A New Computer?

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Phil asks, "How do I switch my iTunes account from an old computer, which is broken, to my new computer? I’ve downloaded iTunes onto the new computer, but, of course, it doesn’t recognize my account. The real problem is my iPod. I have all my music on it, but now I am not able to add to it to iTunes."

Well, first of all, Phil, your new computer should recognize your iTunes account. If it doesn't, you have a problem that you need to contact Apple about. You may have to reset your iTunes password. Hopefully you still have access to the e-mail address you gave Apple for your account. 

Once iTunes does recognize your account, you need to authorize your computer. Sign into iTunes, then click the "Store" tab at the top and click “authorize this computer.” You should now be able to re-download any songs you purchased through iTunes. However, any songs that you ripped from CDs or acquired through other questionable methods,are still trapped on your iPod. Apple made it this way so people couldn't use their iPods to transfer illegally shared music between computers. But in this situation, their safeguard is a real hassle for you.

Regardless of how you acquired your music (we are not here to judge) your music isn’t trapped on your iPod forever. You can transfer it to your computer, but it takes a little work, unless you are willing to pay for an app. We’ll show you how to do it the hard way first, then if you decide that’s not for you, we’ll include a link to the app at the bottom. Here’s how to do it if you have a Windows PC.

Transferring your iTunes library from an iPod to a new Windows PC

When you plug your iPod into your PC, you need to stop it from auto-syncing. To do this, hold down Shift and Ctrl while you plug in your iPod. Then, you can open your iPod like an external hard drive, by going to My Computer and double-clicking the iPod.

However, if you double-click on the iPod and you get an error message asking you to format your iPod, stop! Your iPod was formatted for a Mac. If this is the case, you’ll need a program called MacDrive to see your Mac formatted iPod on your Windows computer. But hopefully this won't happen to you.

Once you get it open, you need to reveal your hidden files. Each version of Windows has a slightly different way to do it, so if you’ve never revealed your hidden files before, just search Google or Bing for “Show Hidden Files Windows” and whatever version of Windows you have (e.g. XP, 7 or 8). Click on the first search results that are from Microsoft. Follow those directions, and you’ll be able to see your hidden files on your iPod.

Now, once you have your iPod open, look for a folder called “iPod-Control.” In there, you’ll find another folder labeled “Music.” Copy that folder to your computer. Now, open iTunes, and click File and Add to Library. Navigate to the Music folder you copied to your desktop, and iTunes will import everything. Your files will have random four letter names, but as soon as they are imported to iTunes, the song titles and artists will be restored.

Transferring your iTunes library from an iPod to a new Mac

If you have a Mac, it’s a little more complicated, but you’ll do basically the same thing. However,  unless you buy an app, you will have to go into the Terminal. Hold down Command and Option while you plug in the iPod. Then you will launch Terminal, and enter “defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE” and then enter “killall Finder.” Now you’ll click on the iPod in iTunes, click the Summary tab and check box next to Enable Disc Use.

Now, open Finder, open the iPod, open the folder "iPod-Control" and copy the "Music" folder to your desktop. Then, open iTunes, and click File and Add to Library. Navigate to the Music folder you copied to your desktop, and iTunes will import everything.

Transferring your iTunes library from an iPod with an app

If you’ve read the instructions above and you are completely overwhelmed, there are two other options. First, you could buy an app that will do most of the heavy lifting for you. If you have an iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad, DiskAid will do the trick. With DiskAid you can copy music, video, text messages and your contacts from your iOS device. If you have a iPod classic or Nano, PodTrans Pro will do the job for you. PodTrans Pro will also convert incompatible file formats for you so you can watch Windows Media files on your iPod. Both DiskAid and PodTrans Pro work on Windows and Mac. If the only thing concerning you is diving into the Terminal on your Mac is concerning you, you can download Houdini for Mac which will make your hidden files and folders visible.

The other option is to have someone do it for you. Most IT service companies can transfer the music files for you, and they usually won’t charge too much for the job. Check out our business directory for some good companies that should be able to help you out.

For more great tech ad?vice, download the Deemable Tech app (for iPhone and Android), and listen to Deemable Tech's full length podcast at Deemable.com. You can also follow them on Twitter @Deemable.