How to Convert a Mac-Compatible iPod to Windows Without Losing Music

By Jason Spidle

Convert your Mac-formatted iPod to Windows without losing music.
i Earphones on Purple image by JJAVA from

The Apple iPod hard disk is formatted differently by iTunes depending on the operating system of the computer connected to the device. Thus, an iPod formatted on a Mac is only compatible with Mac computers and an iPod formatted on Windows is only compatible with Windows computers. You can convert the iPod format if you need to switch from Mac to Windows, but this process will erase all files on the iPod, thus losing all your music. You can use a few methods to maintain your music library and transfer it to your Windows system.

Transfer Music Library from Mac Computer to Windows Computer

Launch iTunes on your Mac computer.

Select "File," "Library" and "Back up to disc."

Select "Backup entire iTunes library and playlists" and click "Back Up."

Insert a blank DVD, and iTunes will begin burning the disc. Once the disc storage capacity has been reached, the computer will eject the disc and iTunes will ask you to insert another blank DVD. This process will continue until your entire music library has been written to disc. It is a good idea to label each disc in sequential order (something like iTunes Backup 1, iTunes Backup 2, etc.).

Launch iTunes on your Windows computer.

Insert the first iTunes backup disc.

Select "Restore" when iTunes asks if you would like to restore your library from the backup discs. The program will then copy all the files from the disc, prompting you to insert the next sequential disc when the copying process is completed, until all data from each disc is copied to your Windows computer.

Transfer Music Library from Mac-Formatted iPod to Windows Computer

Download and install the free trial for XPlay 3 (see Resources), a software program that lets you copy music straight from your iPod to your computer.

Connect your iPod via USB cable to your Windows computer.

Double-click "My Computer."

Double-click the iPod icon.

Select "Tools," then "Folder Options."

Select the "View" tab.

Select "Show hidden folders and files" under "Advanced Settings" and then click "OK."

Double-click the "iPod_Control" folder.

Select the "Music" folder and drag it to your desktop or to another folder using Windows Explorer to copy the music library onto your Windows computer. Once the copy is complete, proceed to the next step.

Right-click on the "Music" folder you just copied and select "Properties."

Uncheck "Hidden" and then click "OK."

Convert Mac iPod to Windows iPod

Connect your iPod via USB cable to your Windows computer.

Launch iTunes.

Select the iPod from the left-hand sidebar.

Select "Restore" from the iPod management screen.

Confirm that you wish to format the iPod for your Windows computer by clicking "Restore."

Select "Next" to proceed with the reformatting. Once the process is complete, you may sync your Windows-formatted iPod with your music collection. Depending on how you transferred your music collection, you may still need to add the files to your existing Windows music library.