Syncing your iPod/iPhone to a new iTunes library? Look here first.

Discussion in 'iTunes' started by acosmichippo, Jan 20, 2009.

  1. acosmichippo

    acosmichippo Genius

    iTunes syncing questions answered here.

    Reformatting your computer? Switching computers? Worried that iTunes might erase important data? This is what will be saved, what won't, how to backup and trasfer your iTunes media, and how to save and transfer your iPhone/iPod backup file. I find myself answering questions such as these about every day here, so I figured why not try to consolidate everything into one post?

    Will iTunes import ______ from my iPhone/iPod?

    • Contacts: Yes (only on the first sync... see Step 5 for details)

    • Music: NO

    • Videos: NO

    • Pictures: NO

    • Bookmarks: NO

    • Apps: NO

    • App data: NO

    • Email: NO
    So you can see why it is important to BACK UP YOUR DATA REGULARLY.

    What to do before you sync to the "new" iTunes:

    1) Save your iTunes Music Folder to secondary media (external Hard Drive, DVDs, or a Shared Network Folder). iTunes has a feature built-in where it will backup your Library to DVDs without much hassle, but it might take a while to burn the DVDs depending on the size of your library. To do this go to File->Library->Back Up to Disc. It is also relatively simple to copy the iTunes folder to an external Hard Drive. The default locations are in the locations listed below. Keep in mind, these are NOT necessarily going to include ALL of your iTunes media. If you import music from many different locations (limewire, for instance), these files may not be in your iTunes folder. To make sure, Go to File->Library->Organize Library->Consolidate Files. This will grab all files not in your iTunes Music folder, and put them there.

    • OSX: /Macintosh HD/Users/UserName/Music/iTunes
    • XP: C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Music\iTunes
    • Vista/Win7: C:\Users\UserName\Music\iTunes

    What to do if you cannot access this folder (as in the case of a dead computer).
    You have two options:

    1. If your hard drive is still functioning, you can extract it and hook it up to another computer using an "external hard drive enclosure". Hard drives vary too much for me to provide a link to one specific device, so it would be best to post here with your dead computer's details for assistance in choosing an enclosure.
    2. Acquire 3rd Party software that will transfer what media you may have on your iphone/ipod to your computer. I don't think i can link to this software in the forums, but you should get plenty of hits if you google "iPod [or iphone] to computer transfer".

    2) Perform a Backup of your iPhone/iPod, and save the backup file to secondary media. If you haven't synced your device in a while, do this in iTunes so it will save your most recent settings and data. This file includes all of the data on your phone that iTunes needs to recover it to the exact condition it was in at the time of the last sync. This includes (but is not limited to) App settings and data, SMS conversations, Springboard layout, iPod/iPhone Settings, etc. You can find the file here:

    • OSX: Macintosh HD/Users/UserName/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup
    • XP: C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup
    • Vista/Win7: C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\AppleComputer\MobileSync\Backup

    Note to windows users: The "Application Data" and "AppData" folders are both hidden from the user by default. To make them visible follow the directions here.

    3) Place these backed-up files (iTunes music and iPhone/iPod backup) in their respective locations. If you are moving to a new computer, this means copy that stuff to your new computer. If you're reinstalling Windows or OSX on the same machine, then put it back where it was.

    4) Make sure you are signed into your iTunes account in the iTunes application on your computer. To check, go to Store in the menu bar. If you see the option to "Sign out", that means you are signed in. If you see the option to "Sign in" then do it!

    • If you are moving to a completely new machine you will also need to "authorize" your computer to use any media purchased from the iTunes Store. This includes music, videos, and Apps. To do this, Go to Store->Authorize Computer. In total, you can have 5 computers authorized for one itunes account at a time. Unfortunately, you can only de-authorize them on the machine that you are wanting to de-authorize. If you find yourself in the situation where you are at your limit of 5 authorized computers, and do not have access to some you need to de-authorize, follow the instructions here to "deauthorize all computers associated with your account". You will then have to reauthorize the computers you use.

    5) Connect your device and sync. To ensure that your contacts are transferred to your computer, select "Merge" when iTunes displays this message:


    Note to MobileMe users: Do not worry about this step. Simply follow the MobileMe setup instructions here to sync your contacts (and everything else that MobileMe syncs).

    Any comments or corrections are welcome, and I will try to update/edit this as necessary.
    • Like Like x 5
  2. Youngbinks

    Youngbinks Zealot

    Sweet write up Hip.
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  4. acosmichippo

    acosmichippo Genius


    it would probably make a good sticky, if i do say so myself. People ask this stuff ALL the time.
  5. cindra

    cindra Member

    Again, I have no thank you button but consider this post as such. (Why don't newbies have a thank you button?)

    I am facing this in a few days when my laptop computer comes back from a motherboard replacement from the factory.

    Unfortunately, I did not have this info BEFORE I wiped the drive and sent it in. :mad:

    I did backup my Pictures folder and my Music folder (so I think the iTunes folder should be included in that), and I also did a sync before wiping the drive. (I sync with Outlook, so I'm not concerned about losing that stuff. I can resync it.)

    I didn't know about the "C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\AppleComputer\MobileSync\Backup" part, though. :p

    What concerns me are the videos and the apps. From what I have read lately, the apps can be redownloaded at no charge if it comes to that, so perhaps all I'll lose is a $15 movie...unless it doesn't remove it from the phone when I sync. Do you know what it will do with that? Maybe I should set aside a couple of hours to watch the movie before it goes poof.

    Anyway. Thanks for the info--very useful stuff! :)
  6. acosmichippo

    acosmichippo Genius

    did you purchase the movie on the iphone? If so, i think it will import into itunes IF you haven't synced it to your previous library. If it was on your computer before you wiped the drive at any point, itunes will not import it again.

    You could always try those third party ipod->computer applications out there.
  7. cindra

    cindra Member

    I believe I downloaded from iTunes then transferred to the phone. I know I had synced the phone several times after it was on there, but yeah, i bet iTunes will erase it.

    Why does it do that? If it's on my phone seems like it'd sync right back in! :)

    Edited to add: It is a purchased movie and not a rental, if it makes a difference.
  8. acosmichippo

    acosmichippo Genius

    It's to prevent people from spreading music/videos willy nilly.
  9. psylichon

    psylichon Moderator

    Right you are. Done. Great work!
  10. glsda

    glsda Zealot

    Hippo, I am getting these 2 error messages when trying to sync music:

    1. Attempting to copy to the disk 'Geral L Smith" failed. The disk could not be read from or written to.

    2. The iPhone 'Gerald L Smith" cannot be synced. The required disk cannot be found.

    I synced the iphone to my office computer and it asked if I wanted to merge and I said yes and sense then I cannot sync with my home computer, the original base for the iPhone.

    I have 2 pc's running XP

    I have restored the iPhone on iTunes.

    Any help would be appreciated.
  11. acosmichippo

    acosmichippo Genius

    sounds like maybe itunes cannot find its library... what does this preferences page look like?
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 2, 2013
  12. glsda

    glsda Zealot

    Sorry about the size.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2014
  13. glsda

    glsda Zealot

    Thanks Hippo. Solved the problem. I did not the above box checked, 'Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library'. I did that and then went to the Summary page and checked 'Sync only checked songs and videos'. It synced perfectly. :sick:
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 2, 2013
  14. acosmichippo

    acosmichippo Genius

  15. drumthrasher109

    drumthrasher109 New Member

    Thanks for this thread. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to sync my iPhone on OS X (at all).

    Actually, I'm scared to click on the Sync button...I'm afraid it will erase everything on here.

    And how come I still can't add new songs to this thing?
  16. synister

    synister New Member

    hello new here and just wanted to make the intro...the name is justin.

    movin on..i wanted to know if anyone knows of a good sync- to- pc freeware for a touch 2nd gen..everthing i find is for 1st gen only or either i find a program that works but it will be like 20 or 30 dollars...if it comes down to it i will shell out the cash, but free is always prepared to download touchcopy because the demo actually worked and i like the UI..
  17. acosmichippo

    acosmichippo Genius

    what, specifically, are you trying to do?
  18. girlymom

    girlymom New Member

    When I try to do exactly as you say, there is the identical box except it is missing the Merge button.

    What do I do? It's already wiped my itunes library clean twice!
  19. girlymom

    girlymom New Member

    Nevermind! I figured it out even without that little box. I did have 2 accounts, which I knew, but hadn't authorized this computer on one of them.
  20. kenny pants

    kenny pants New Member

    Hey guys,

    Was reading through the posts because I have a similar situation to Cindra...took my computer in for a hard drive replacement and now most of my songs will sync but for a few apps (that I paid for) and a few songs are not "able to be transferred" because the computer is not authorized. I've tried de-authorizing and redoing, but that doesn't work.

    Am I out of luck with my apps? There's just one I really want - I paid $10 for it - anatomy lab. I love the app and want it back!!

  21. acosmichippo

    acosmichippo Genius

    Do you have multiple iTunes accounts?

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