Extracting Music from an iPod without iTunes


    The Preamble

    The primary gripe I have with Apple is the way they lock the user into a particular way of doing things. I never used iTunes until I switched to Mac. I found it too limited and restrictive. On Windows my preferred media manager, by a long shot, was MediaMonkey. Everything else seems feeble in comparison to the Monkey. With great reluctance I switched to iTunes when I started using Mac.

    iTunes does not make it easy to extract music (or other files) from miscellaneous iPods and iPhones. It will always want to sync the iPod and take ownership of it. This is fine it’s your own iPod or one for which you have a local copy of all the tracks, but what if a friend hands you their iPod or you lose your music on your computer and the only copy left is on your portable device?

    This is where third party applications come into play.

    iDevice Applications

    I’ve tried Macsome iPodtransfer, TouchCopy, and Senuti.

    Macsome iPodTransfer (MIPT)

    MIPT looked good, but didn’t function well. For instance, I was not able to sort by column (album, artist, etc.) in iPodTransfer, which was a pain. Basically there was no way to easily access just one album or artist, for instance. The fact that the search feature always came up with no results also didn’t help. Combined, these two “bugs” made it impossible to easily drill down to albums, artists, genres, etc.

    MIPT was seriously lacking in features. There is not much more to say about it, as it cost more than Senuti, yet doesn’t work as well. Let’s move on…


    TouchCopy (TC) was the most feature rich. It allows for accessing your music, movies, podcasts, audiobooks, photos, and other data such as contacts, calendar, notes, and files. It took a very long time to give me access after plugging in my partially full 64GB iPod Touch. I have no idea what it was doing, but it took some minutes.

    Clicking on Notes (and any of the other non-media related areas would also take a long time to load. Again, up to a few minutes. Actually when I clicked on Notes it took about 5 minutes to eventually come back and tell me my data is encrypted. The instruction was then to remove encryption using iTunes. Waiting 5 minutes to find this out was not too cool.

    TC has some nice features like a preference to “Highlight tunes with DRM protection”; saving search results as a playlist; a report which shows the tracks not in iTunes; and other preferences you might find useful. MIPT had no preferences at all.

    TC has a button for Backup. This will backup the device. There are, like the other applications, buttons to transfer tracks to the device, and to transfer to iTunes.

    It was the only one of the three to have window frames for Genre, Artist, and Albums. This made it very easy to locate and hone in on an album or one artist for instance. Although the search feature in Senuti sufficed for this.

    I gather it is a java based app (making it compatible on Windows and OS X). This might be what made it slower? Not sure.

    Whilst TC had a lot more features, it was not my favorite. It was also a lot more expensive, and I don’t see any reason to pay for things I don’t need.


    Senuti was the one I liked most from the three.  It was not as feature rich as TouchCopy, but I personally didn’t need those additional features. Senuti was fast and smooth to work with. It had good multitasking support too, such as playing a copying some tracks, and playing a song, changing the song being played, and finding new tracks, etc. All this could be done at the same time without it getting the stutters.

    Senuti can easily play tracks directly off of the portable device you’re accessing. Just double-click a file and it will start playing with the little player in the status bar.

    With Senuti you can easily transfer music and video from your iPod, iPod Touch, and iPhone directly into iTunes. All applications make it easy to add tracks to a playlist on your device; rename a playlist; and delete playlists.

    Senuti allows you to display all the most important columns when viewing the content of your device. This makes it real easy to see if the album you’re about to borrow from your friend’s device is the full album or if tracks are missing. I have a thing about partial albums, and try to avoid them if at all possible. iPodTransfer only displays Trackname, Time, Genre, Artist, Album, Comment — and it is not possible sort by any of these.

    The search feature on Senuti is flawless. Works well.

    Another nice thing about Senuti is it will display a tree of your device content AND your iTunes library. This makes it very easy to move things between the two.

    The price

    • iPodTransfer — US$29.95
    • TouchCopy — US$24.99
    • Senuti — US$18

    Senuti certainly wins as far as price goes. If you really want the extra features of TC and don’t mind paying nearly twice as much, go for it. Personally I can use other applications to do what all these extra features do. Such as iTunes for backups. I don’t need to accesg my notes or my calendar, because this data is all sync’d to my computer and online anyway. I would have no reason to access this sort of data on a friend’s device either. All I want there is the ability to “borrow” tracks from them. Senuti was the best for that, by a long shot.

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