Apple's iTunes is media management software that allows you -- among other functions -- to transfer music from your computer to your iPod music player with the click of a button. If you want to transfer songs from your iPod back to your computer, it's possible to do so, but only with third-party software. After the music is back on your computer, transfer it into iTunes to permit automatic syncing once again.
How iTunes Syncing Works
With iTunes, it's possible to connect your iPod to your computer and update the iPod to reflect the contents of your iTunes library with a click of the "Sync" button -- or, if you've set iTunes to sync automatically, with no action at all. iTunes music management isn't two-way, however. Even if you set iTunes to allow you manual management of your music, you can only delete songs from the iPod, not transfer them from the iPod to iTunes. If you use an iPod Touch or iPhone, it's possible to purchase music directly on your device, through the "iTunes Store" device -- no syncing is necessary.
Reasons for Needing Two-Way Transfer
Ideally, you wouldn't need to transfer songs from your iPod back to your computer. If you purchased your iPod brand new, you would have transferred all the songs from your computer onto your empty iPod the first time you connected it -- and updated it from there on out. If your computer crashes and loses its music, however, your iPod may be the only place you've backed up the music you once had on the computer.
Disk Use Mode
If you use the iPod classic, nano or shuffle, iTunes gives you the option to use the device as a hard drive. Ticking the box next to "Enable Disk Use" in iTunes' "Summary" tab unlocks this functionality. If you've copied all your song files to your iPod hard drive -- separately from the syncing them so they appear within the iPod's media player itself -- it's possible to connect the iPod to your computer and drag and drop them off the device and onto your computer. Disk Use mode isn't available for the iPod Touch or iPhone 4 as of April 2011.
If you haven't stored your music on your iPod's hard drive, the only way to get music from your iPod onto your computer is using third-party software. Several free options exist online -- "Media Monkey," "CopyTrans" and "iCopyBot" are three examples -- all of which allow you to drag songs from your iPod onto your hard drive and drop it anywhere on your computer you want. After this, open all the songs you transfer in iTunes to add them to your library, which permits automatic updates once again.
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