You've got your music library stored in iTunes, but no quick and convenient way of transferring it to your non-Apple mobile media player or phone. Fret no more, because we've tracked down a couple of solutions that will do the job for you.
If you're running iTunes in Windows and your mobile phone or MP3 player shows up as a removable drive when plugged into your PC, you can sync your choice of music to your device using a free program called Notpod.
Better still, if you're an Android user and you don't mind paying around £4 for the privilege, you can wirelessly sync all or part of your iTunes media library to your device using an app called TuneSync. We'll show you how to use both in this tutorial.
1. Sync with Notpod
If you're going down the Notpod route, download the software from its homepage by clicking Download followed by the Notpod 1.4.1 installer link. During installation, make sure you read the installation information section carefully so you're aware of how the software works.
Once installed, click Close and launch Notpod from the Start menu. You'll see its icon appearing in the Taskbar Notification area. Make sure your media device or phone is plugged into your PC and that its storage -- typically an external SD card -- is visible as a drive letter when you click Start > Computer (you'll need to switch on USB storage if you're using an Android device, for example).
2. Set up device
Now right-click the Notpod Taskbar Notification area icon and select Preferences. Click New Device and make a note of the warning before clicking OK. Enter your media device's name into the Name field for easy identification. Click the down arrow next to Synchronization Pattern and choose how you want your tracks organised and named -- we recommend 'Artist\Album\Track (with disc number)' for easy filing.
Click Choose next to 'Music location on device' and browse to the drive you wish to store your music in on your device. If necessary, click 'Make new folder' to create a music folder or -- if music is already present on the device -- an iTunes folder. Select this folder and click OK. Now click the Create button and select the drive itself before clicking OK.
If you wish to sync all your music to your device, choose Music from the 'Associate with playlist' drop-down menu. Otherwise, leave 'Use device name' selected to pick and choose which media items are synced. Click Save Device to finish.
3. Set up playlist and sync
If syncing your entire music collection to your device, simply double-click the Notpod Taskbar notification area icon, and the sync will begin. If synchronising specific items, switch to iTunes, where you'll find a My Devices folder under Playlists with your device name on it. Drag any tracks, artists or albums to this playlist, then sync as directed above.
As you update your library or playlist, simply re-sync your device by double-clicking the Notpod Taskbar notification area icon again.
4. Wirelessly sync iTunes to Android
If you have an Android tablet or phone, you can wirelessly sync all of your media, plus selected playlists, to your Android device using TuneSync. TuneSync comes in two parts. Firstly, free media server software for Mac and Windows, and secondly, a paid-for app for Android. Start by downloading and installing the TuneSync server software from its website.
5. Set up server
Once installed, launch the application, then look for its Taskbar or menu bar icon. Right-click this and choose Settings. Change the Library name for identification purposes, if you wish, but also change the password from the default 0000 to something more secure.
TuneSync Server is configured to start with your computer, so it can wirelessly sync changes to your iTunes library whenever they're made and your Android device is switched on and connected to your home network. To prevent this from happening, untick 'Start TuneSync Server on user login' before you click OK.
6. Install TuneSync Lite
To make sure everything works correctly before you commit to purchase, download TuneSync Lite to your Android device from the Android market, or directly from the TuneSync webpage. This version of the app allows you to download up to 20 songs from a single playlist to verify that it works before committing to purchase.
7. Connect to TuneSync server
Launch the app. It will launch to the Host Computer screen and attempt to locate available libraries over your network. Before you can connect, however, you need to change TuneSync Lite's password to match the password you created in step 5. Press the back button, then scroll down the list of available options and tap Server Password and enter the required password before hitting OK.
Next, scroll back up to the top of the options list and tap Host Computer. Wait while your computer's iTunes library is located, then tap it under 'Available Libraries'. Once the connection is made, tap OK. Select Music and then press Back to return to the options screen.
8. Select where to store music
Tap Storage Location to select where to save your media to -- this will typically be on an external microSD card. If this is the case, you may need to browse your device using a file manager app to determine its file path (such as /mnt/extsd/). Once located, return to the Storage Location screen and tap Other Location to enter it manually. Don't forget the leading '/' -- for example, /mnt/extsd/Music. Tap OK when done.
9. Sync and test
Verify both Enable Sync and Wireless Sync are ticked before scrolling down and tapping Sync Now. Wait while the connection is established -- if all is well, you'll eventually see a list of songs ready to be transferred across. Only 20 songs will be transferred. Once complete, a summary screen will appear. Press Back twice to quit TuneSync Lite, then open your music player app. You should see the new tracks appearing under Recently Added.
10. Purchase TuneSync
Now that the connection has been successfully tested, you can either purchase an unlock code for TuneSync Lite via the Google Checkout button at the bottom of the TuneSync download page, or if you prefer, buy it from Android Market.
If opting to purchase it through Android Market, first uninstall TuneSync Lite by going into Settings > Applications > Manage applications. Select TuneSync Lite from the list, tap Uninstall and follow the prompts to remove it from your Android device. Now purchase TuneSync from Android Market.
11. Set up and sync
If you purchased TuneSync through Android Market, you'll need to set it up again following steps 7 and 8. One key change is that now you've unlocked the full program, you can choose exactly which libraries and playlists get synchronised with your Android device.
You can also examine the other options on offer. These include: a) syncing when the Android phone is connected to your computer via cable (choose Wired Sync); b) opting to sync only checked items in iTunes; c) updating song ratings and play counts from your device back to iTunes itself; d) forcing your device to stay awake during the sync; and e) only allowing it to sync while your Android device is charging.
You'll also find an Amazon MP3 section, which allows you to transfer purchased Amazon MP3s from your device into your iTunes library. For help and troubleshooting support using TuneSync, visit its web page and in particular the Troubleshooting and Answers section.