Moving iTunes Library to Windows Media Player – The Final Word


I’ve gotten lots and lots of questions about my previous couple of posts about how to move your music library from Apple’s iTunes to Windows Media Player over the past couple of months. Jerry Leynes of Jacksonville, Florida has cleaned up and augmented my posts along with a few others to create a definitive guide to getting your library moved over, along with clarifying text that I was missing. Jerry’s text below is about how to move the music all the way from iTunes to the miniSD card for his Sprint Pocket PC, but the instructions should work for any Windows Media Player compatible MP3 player (including Creative Zen, iRiver MP3 players, Toshiba Gigabeats, etc.) Thanks to Jerry for the well-written and very useful post!


In Jerry’s words (please note this is not for songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store!):


Converting iTunes music files to MP3 format, transferring these to Windows Media Player 11 using MusicBridge freeware, Synching these into Sprint’s PPC-6700 Pocket PC


I have just finished a three hour process of doing this and am now listening to my former iTunes music listings for iPod on my Pocket PC, so I know the process works:


Download and Install MusicBridge (Freeware): http://www.download.com/MusicBridge/3000-2141_4-10530688.html?tag=lst-0-1


1. Open up iTunes.


2. Click on Edit, Preferences, Advanced, Importing .


3. Change your “Import Using” drop-down to “MP3 Encoder”.


4. Exit from your preferences and go to the main library view in iTunes. You may want to sort all of your music by “File Type”.


5. Highlight all of your unprotected AAC files. (You can not convert or play songs you purchased from the iTunes Music Store because of a lock Apple is forced to put on the files called “FairPlay”.)


6. Right-click, and select “Convert Selection to MP3”.


7. It’ll take awhile…be patient.


When all the files have converted to MP3 format: Close iTunes.


Music Bridge does not actually add songs to your Windows Media Player (WMP) library…it only synchs the metadata about those songs (song names, ratings, playlists, etc.) Before you use MB you need to actually add the song files from iTunes to your WMA Library. Following instructions are for WMP 11, but may work for WMP 10.



  1. Open WMP.

  2. Hit F3.

  3. You get an “add to library” drop down box with a list of folders that WMP is monitoring for new media files. If you don’t see this list, click on “advanced Options” then click on ADD Navigate to the root folder holding your iTunes music files. This path will ususally be c:\My Documents\My music\itunes\itunes music.

  4. Click OK. WMP will scan the folder and all its subfolders and add those music files to your library. Any AAC files and music purchased from the iTunes Music Store will be skipped.

  5. When the import is finished exit WMP and open Music Bridge From the “Synch from iTunes” box chose “All Data” confirm this when asked: Do you really want to…..”

  6. Watch and wait as your data is synced.

  7. When this is done open WMP and check to see that the files are indeed there.

  8. Next connect your PPC to its sync cradle and start the sync program (for MP3 players, just connect your MP3 player to the PC and turn it on.) It will look for the new files and load them onto your miniSD storage card (you must have this to load music files on because there is not enough internal memory in the PPC to hold the files. Strongly recommend the 2GB miniSD card. You must set up a sync relationship between WMP and your miniSD memory card. Just follow the instructions on your PPC to do this…its easy When the sync is completed open Windows Media on the PPC and touch “menu”.

  9. Select: Library and hit menu again, select “Update Library”

  10. All your music files will be transferred onto the “Storage Card” in your PPC.

  11. To play music, now open WM in the PPC, go to Library, select Storage Card, select the album or artist or genre you want to play and hit play.

  12. It works!

Note:  Since I’ve written this, I’ve left Microsoft.  If you’d like to contact me directly with questions about this, please feel free to visit my website at http://whostheboss.net.

Comments (20)

  1. kfarmer says:

    Do I understand correctly that it should sync the relevent info in the mp3 file itself, or is it only synced to external library info?

    There are a lot of errors in CDDB that we’d corrected in iTunes, but which weren’t propagated to the mp3 file.

  2. John Lockwood says:

    Note: Joe’s original desire was to be able to move his music to WMP so that he could then sync to a Toshiba Gigabeat. With this in mind Joe’s instructions are the best for his needs.

    However, if you merely want to share your music between iTunes and WMP and either you are a dyed in the wool iPod user or have no portable music player then MY instructions may serve you better 🙂 So read on…

    The first and most important issue when trying to share music between iTunes and WMP is to decide on what format best suits you. (For Joe’s Toshiba Gigabeat MP3 is best.). Here is a list of the major formats and their iTunes/WMP issues.

    AIFF – can be played by iTunes, WMP and iPod but cannot be added to WMP as WMP does not support meta tags in AIFF

    WAV – can be played by iTunes, WMP and iPod and added to WMP but its tag support is pitiful and in iTunes and iPod does not support embedded artwork

    FLAC – not supported properly in iTunes and not normally supported on iPod and even in WMP has some tag issues

    OGG – see FLAC

    WMA – can be imported in to iTunes for Windows but is then converted to for example AAC and not supported at all on iPod, so apart from auto-converting it we could argue iTunes does not support it

    MP3 – supported by everything (iTunes, iPod, WMP, etc.) and WMP even makes an attempt to support embedded artwork in MP3, however this format is often regarded as being the lowest audio quality of the various formats

    AAC – supported fully by iTunes and iPod. You can add an AAC directshow filter to WMP (to let it play AAC), and you can add the WMPTSE plugin to let WMP read meta tags from these files (excluding embedded artwork) it is regarded as better audio quality than MP3 (for the same file size) but not supported by as many non iPod portable media players

    Apple Lossless – Supported by iTunes and iPod obviously. Until this year it was regarded as impossible to do this in WMP. However I came up with an Apple Lossless solution for WMP based on code from THREE different programmers so you can now get a directshow filter for WMP to let it play Apple Lossless. You would also use the same WMPTSE plugin to let WMP read meta tags for these files.

    In summary –

    MP3 offers the maximum compatibility but on average the lowest audio quality

    AAC offers compatibility between iTunes and WMP with better than MP3 quality but still not CD quality but is supported by fewer music players

    AIFF, WAV are CD quality but tag support is so poor as to make them unusable when trying to share between iTunes and WMP

    FLAC, OGG, and WMA are not ‘really’ supported by iTunes

    Apple Lossless is CD quality and can be fully shared between iTunes and WMP (and even Media Center 2005, Media Extenders, and devices from Sonos, SlimDevices, and Roku)

    I therefore have all my iTunes library in Apple Lossless, use an Apple Lossless directshow filter to let WMP play them, use WMPTSE to let WMP read the tags from these files, and have manually copied the artwork to WMP from iTunes. As a result all my library of dozens of albums is fully shared between iTunes, iPod, WMP, Media Center 2005, and my Roku SoundBridge.

    See this thread for more information about the Apple Lossless solution for WMP http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=46551&st=0

    I believe this approach is the only/best way to share CD quality tracks between iTunes and WMP.

  3. K O says:

    Re:  "please note this is not for songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store!"

    My son has songs purchased from iTunes, and just bought a Zen.  

    Am I correct in figuring that there’s NO WAY for him to convert them and import them to the Zen?

  4. MSDN Archive says:

    There is *one* way you can do this.  You can burn the songs from iTunes as an audio CD and then re-rip the songs in Windows Media Player as MP3s or WMAs for transfer to your device.

  5. Luke G says:

    Thank you so much for this info! i had almost lost hope of ever properly organizing my 18,000 song music collection after moving it from a mac to my laptop, the initial excitement of discovering WMP had automatically filed everything under album titles with artwork soon faded wen i realized it had failed to acknowledge at least a third of my collection (AAC files) now i have the WMPTSE plugin …problem solved!  

  6. dave m says:

    Got stuck on instruction #5…

    When the import is finished exit WMP and open Music Bridge From the "Synch from iTunes" box chose "All Data" confirm this when asked: Do you really want to….."

    When I try to open Music Bridge, it says I have to use some type of .NET Framework version 2.0.50727 and takes me to a website of downloads and I have no idea which one to download!!!  Any chance someone can provide a direct link for someone slow to this millenium?  I did make it to this step of the process without a glitch….  Any help would be greatly appreciated…

    Dave

  7. MSDN Archive says:

    Sure Dave.

    You need to install the .NET Framework 2.0.  Here’s a direct download link:

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=0856eacb-4362-4b0d-8edd-aab15c5e04f5&displaylang=en

  8. don't have to convert everything to mp3 says:

    this little booger enables aac playback in wmp.

    not sure about album art though.

    http://www.orban.com/plugin/

  9. josie says:

    Question: When I convert the format of my iTunes music files so that they are compatible to play in WMP, would I still be able to play them in iTunes? And would this affect updating my ipod files?

  10. MSDN Archive says:

    Josie:

    Yes–MP3s and AAC files both are compatible with the iPod and iTunes.

  11. leslie says:

    ok, so how is it possible to get a video that I bought on itunes to windows media player so that i can burn it onto a dvd? i have been trying to do that for a while,  but i cant figure it out. Please help!

  12. MSDN Archive says:

    No, sorry–videos bought in iTunes can only be played with iTunes or an iPod.  There’s no way to get them in Windows Media Player or burn them to a DVD.

  13. JR says:

    thank you so much for taking the time to put something like this together.  i wanted to transfer my i tunes to my new cell phone and didn’t have a clue how, went searching, found your wonderful blog and was on my way.  my music is now transfered and i am so greatful for all your help!!!!!!!thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

    JR

  14. Doug Bostrom says:

    I have a SanDisk 2GB mp3 player.  Is there anyway to directly download from iTunes onto the mp3 player without using Windows Media Player.  I am trying to keep it simple and trying to avoid the extra step of putting them in the WMP.  

    DB

  15. MSDN Archive says:

    Doug–

    Sorry…that’s not possible.  The Windows version of iTunes only supports Apple MP3 players.  Ironically, if you’re using a Mac, I believe you can download plugins for iTunes to let other players (such as Creative or Rio products) to work.  Here’s an *old* CNet article about it:

    http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-6450_7-5614609-1.html

  16. lee says:

    how do i do it vice-virsa you know getting windows media to itunes

  17. Reginald says:

    May I ask a dumb question?  Please bare with me, I am an older guy challenged by the new technology.  The question is this:  I have Windows Media Player 9 and I’m very satisfied with it.  I now want to purchase a SanDisk 2048 2GB Mp3 Portable player.  The advertisment says it "Supports Microsoft Windows Media Player 10.  Will it support older versions like mine or will I have to upgrade.  Thank you for your patience.

    Reginald

  18. MSDN Archive says:

    Reginald–

    There’s a very good chance that it won’t work with Windows Media Player 9.  If you can upgrade to Windows Media Player 10 or 11, I’d suggest that you do that–there are huge usability and performance improvements in Windows Media Player 11 that definitely make it a worthy upgrade.

  19. Robert P. Charlton says:

    Question: How to transfer iTunes database to Windows Media Centre?

    I have 82 gigs of music (mostly from CDs) in mp3 (90% at 320) format on my hardrive organized through iTunes. The database is well organized by name, artist (last name first), album, composer, genre, rating etc. and has numerous playlists. I now want to centralize all my music (and videos) to my Microsoft Windows Vista Media Centre for access throughout the house.

    Previous attempts have led to the loss of much useful data. iWhat is the solution? For example, is there a utility out there that can transfer all the data (and music) properly?

    Many thanks.

  20. MSDN Archive says:

    Robert–have you looked into the solution above?  Windows Media Center uses the same database as Windows Media Player, meaning if you follow the "MusicBridge" solution above, you should be able to transfer all of your static playlists and metadata over to the new library.