Transferring contents of one device into a new device

iOS and iPadOS

The battery of my old 4th gen Nano has stopped holding a charge. It works when plugged in and I can add and remove contents, but that is it. I still prefer the click wheel for listening to books and tend to prefer listening to music on a device other than my phone when performing activities like writing where I do n't want any interruptions. Because of this, I've managed to track down and order a brand new 5th generation Nano to replace the one that is on its way out. I figure it will give me a bit more time to get used to the idea of saying goodbye to the click wheel. The issue I am going to have to deal with is that I have also never been one for bothering with playlists, I just add and remove contents as mood suits. Currently I have the 4th gen player full up with songs, books, and a few podcast episodes. The last I can reconstruct easily, but the first two are going to take a lot of time and effort unless I can find a way to mass copy the contents of the old player onto the new.

So, is there any way to copy the complete contents of one device onto another? It would save me so much time. If I could also use it to start moving songs onto my new iPhone, it would be even better since I already have to manually copy over all of the BARD library books I have onto it and have to redownload my Kindle and Nook libraries as well.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.





Submitted by Tyler on Thursday, April 24, 2014

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

If you are getting a 5th gen Nano, you'll still have the click wheel. The 6th and 7th gen nanos do away with it in favor of a touchscreen. If you sync your old nano with your iTunes library before you set up your new one, you should be able to plug it in and sync all your iTunes content like music, books, and podcast episodes.

Submitted by Siobhan on Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hi. I don't know what IOS device you want, wait, you might've said an iPhone. Sorry It's been a long day. If you back up to iTunes before anything else, you should be ok. The Bard and Kindle stuff, unfortunately that's just par for the course. Please let us know what happens.

The problem I have is that my library consists of well over 10,000 songs and just the songs are over 64 Gb, so I can't even sync my iPhone to the library let alone the Nano. I was able to get all of the audible books manually by just going up and down the author list on my 4th gen Nano and then copying and pasting those same books onto the new 5th gen. Since there were only 29 authors' books currently on my 4th gen, it was fairly quick and easy to just go and manually do this.

The problem with the music is that I have songs by a couple hundred artists and from several hundred albums currently on the 4th generation Nano, so recreating that particular list, picking out the individual couple of thousand songs out of a list of over 10,000 is much more work.

I am wondering if there is a way to do this using playlists. I have absolutely no experience with creating and using playlists, so I don't know for sure. I was able to create a playlist from the full music contents of my 4th gen, but appeared in the 4th gen's device listing and I couldn't seem to get it to move anywhere, particularly not to the device list of the 5th gen to get it to sync.

I know that Appple made the methods of transferring contents so strict as part of the copy protection scheme, but it just seems to be really difficult to do something like this even if one is dealing with contents that are all in one's library and iCloud account. I could understand if I were trying to move around music that didn't exist anywhere but in one of the players, but we are talking about nothing but music in my library on my hard drive as well as in my iCloud account. If there is no other way, I can just do my best to get what I want on the 5th gen Nano, but the music currently on the 4th gen is a compilation that has evolved with my moods and my work habits, I write fiction and often collect music just to listen to while writing particular things, and it would be nice to be able to keep the evolution of the contents flowing smoothly from where I am happy with it on into what makes me happy as time goes by. At the moment, i am listening to books on my 5th gen, and am listening to music only in places where I can plug the 4th gen player into a charging cable so it will work while I try to figure this out. If there is a method using playllists or any other way that will work, I would be extremely grateful to learn how. I should probably learn to use playlists anyway, since I could then do things like make specific ones for various writing projects, for exercize time and so on. I just moved from early players that were semi-accessible to the truly accessible Nano and never really learned any new tricks other than manually adding and removing songs and other media. My own fault for being complacent and now I am paying the price.

Thanks for the replies. I wish I could just do the auto sync, but since I am such an obsessive collector, I couldn't even sync any one media type automatically, let alone my entire library.

Thanks again,


Submitted by DPinWI on Saturday, April 26, 2014

Can you easily add all the songs on the Nano to a Nano "on the go" playlist? I think this might only work one at a time and be a tedious option.

Do you play the stuff on the nano exclusively, and have you played them all? You may be able to use the "Last Played Field" to create a Smart Playlist in iTunes.

You said you could create a playlist of the contents of the 4, but couldn't get it on the 5. Did you create this playlist on the 4 itself, or, in iTunes? If it's on the 4, does syncing to iTunes create the playlist in your iTunes library? If you created it in iTunes, it should be fairly easy to select that playlist in the sync options of the 5.

Submitted by Blindcat on Sunday, April 27, 2014

In reply to by DPinWI

I created the playlist by selecting all of the songs under the music section of the 4th gen Nano when it was plugged into the computer and was on the itunes device list. It appeared as Playlist Device after the content categories in the 4th gen's listing. I tried doing all sorts of copy and pasting to get the playlist to copy onto the 5th gen, onto the iTunes playlist listing and all of that with no results. I was able to export it to both a text and XML file, but then couldn't figure out how to get the exported playlist back into iTunes to try and get things going. As oI said, I literally have no experience with playlists. I don't even really know the difference between a standard and a smart playlist. If I absolutely have to, I can start copying music onto the Nano, but I am still holding out hope I will find a way to get things as i want them a bit easier. I just want the 5th gen to be able to take over exactly where the 4th gen left off and continue on.



Submitted by DPinWI on Sunday, April 27, 2014

If you can create and see a playlist with the songs in it under the 4's entery in iTunes, this might work.

Navigate to the listing for this playlist. I use F6 to get to the list view. Try selecting all with CTRL +A. Then, it would be sweet if there was a "Create Playlist from Selection under the File/New entry. It would create a new playlist in the iTunes library, and I think prompt you for a name.

Once you have that playlist in your iTunes library, you should be able to sync it in the 5's iTunes music tab in the playlists section.

A playlist is just a list of songs you put together. A smart playlist is a way of creating rules so that iTunes can make a playlist based on the rules. The rules are very flexible and some people get quite fancy with them.

Submitted by Blindcat on Sunday, April 27, 2014

I wasn't able to use the New dialogue to create a playlist off of the 4th gen. It just would create new playlists on the device and wouldn't let them move to the iTunes list of playlists. I was finally able to export and then import the playlist though. The next obstacle is that iTunes then wants to empty the 5th gen of current contents, i.e. all of the books I got onto the player and then sync the music and then the device will sync to that playlist. Why does Apple bother to include separate tabs for music, movies, books and so on, if one can't manage each media type in a different way? On top of this, it seems to me that if it does this, than if I sync the music to the playlist and then switch back to manually managing music, which is what I want to do, it will then want to erase all of the contents again and make me start all over anyway. This whole setup seems incredibly counter-intuitive to me. I would love to be able to use playlists to play a particular group of songs, excluding other contents and to add or remove a group of songs without affecting all of the other contents, but it seems that Apple demands that you either sync everything, sync to playlists, or manually manage and also demand that you use the same method to manage all media types and no combinations or flexibility allowed. if I am wrong, I would love to be corrected here, because I am hoping I am wrong. Don't mistake me as going sour, no pun intended, on apple. I love all of my Apple devices, but they really could stand to learn that while people like things simple, they also like to have some choice in how they do things and want some flexibility. I think flexibility could be added in a way that would actually make all of these devices easier to use not harder and that it could all be done without sacrificing the current level of copyright protections. I mean, all I want to do is replace a soon to be defunct device making the contents of the new one mirror that of the old one. i wouldn't even mind if they just had a clone device function that erased the old device as the contents were copied to the new device. such a function would not only work for replacing devices in the process of ceasing to function correctly, it would also work for folks upgrading and wanting to sell the older device. The new device would reflect the old and the old would be cleaned and maybe reformatted, ready for the owner to sell or give away if they want.

Anyway, thanks for the input. If I am wrong that this pretty much exhausts the ways to do what I was hoping to do, i.e. clone the old device onto the new and continue to manually manage music, movies, books, podcasts and so on, I would definitely love to know. Otherwise, thanks for the help and advice I've gotten. As usual the Applevis community is just a really great group that I am glad to be a part of.



Submitted by dvdmth on Monday, April 28, 2014

Club AppleVis Member

In manual mode, the device is essentially its own library, independent of your iTunes library. This is why creating a playlist on the device does not automatically make a playlist in the iTunes library with the same content. It is as if you had two, completely different, libraries, each of which can have its own data that is not present on the other.

In automatic mode, the content on the device is synchronized with the iTunes library, so changes on the device will be reflected in iTunes the next time you sync and vice versa. You cannot choose to use automatic mode for some media types and not others, as you have discovered. Though it could be useful to have this flexibility, once you understand how things work under the hood, it actually makes some sense why Apple designed it this way. I agree, though, that it is counterintuitive.

In answer to your initial problem, I believe there is a way to transfer the contents of a device to another device using iTunes, even when in manual mode, but my memory is a bit hazy here, so I may not remember correctly. I believe you first need to create a new, blank playlist within iTunes. Then connect the device, select all of the contents of the device, and copy them to the playlist you just created. If my memory is right, iTunes will transfer the contents of the device to the main iTunes library and add them to the playlist. You then connect the new device and copy this newly created playlist to that device.

There is one major misconception some people have regarding automatic sync. They assume that if their iTunes library is too large to fit, the automatic mode will not work, or they cannot control what is or is not synced to the device. This is not true at all. Indeed, once you get the hang of it, you might actually find the automatic mode to be better than manual. I use the automatic mode for both my iPad Air and my iPod Shuffle, and my iTunes library is much bigger than either of these devices.

When in automatic mode, there are a few ways to control what is synced to the device. The simplest is to tell iTunes to sync only checked items. Then, simply check or uncheck the items in your library, and they will be added to or removed from your device accordingly. Additionally, you can tell iTunes to sync only certain playlists, artists, etc. If you tell iTunes to sync only a certain playlist, you can then control what's on the device simply by adding or removing items from that playlist. You can even tell iTunes to sync only certain individual items, though I find this to be cumbersome. The sync options are found within the settings for the device, under various tabs.

I hope you find this useful. iTunes can definitely be a challenge, but once you know how it works, it can be very useful indeed.