How to use a Windows iPod on a Mac

March 16, 2004

I’ve got a rather large library of MP3s (don’t start — I spent a lot of time ripping and organizing my own rather extensive CD collection in order to enjoy my fair-use rights).  Since I want to enjoy said rights on whatever machine I happen to be working on, I leave the collection on a server so it’s available on machines through the house.

Over time, my tool-of-choice has become J. River Media Center, the Swiss Army Knife of media tools.  It slices, it dices, it handles large libraries and actually has a decent iPod interface.  It’s also a Windows-only product.

When I got the Powerbook, I had a minor dillema—why should I spend limited notebook space on music when I had a perfectly good portable music storage device in the iPod?  Since iPods can be formatted in two flavors (Mac or Windows), I assumed I was going to have to bite the bullet and move the iPod over to Mac, and learn to live with iTunes to organize my library.

To my surprise, when I plugged it into the Powerbook, Windows format and all, iTunes had no problem at all recognizing it and playing files off of it like normal.  Hurrah!

For the acid test, I ripped a new CD on iTunes, copied the files to the iPod, moved the iPod back to my desktop and imported the new songs into my library with Media Center.  Success!  It even maintained the ratings I initially set on iTunes when I was ripping (and listening to) the CD.  (It did lose the playcount, however)

I love it when stuff just works…

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