It's easy to move music from hard drive to iPod

Ask Jim

Plugged In

December 14, 2006|By Jim Coates | Jim Coates,Chicago Tribune

I have several hundred songs copied to my hard drive from original CDs. When I tried to copy them to my iPod, it can't be done; an error message saying that they are protected files comes up. Is there a way of "unprotecting" all of these music files on my hard drive so that I can transfer them to my iPod?

-- Mike Kczng

Count yourself among far too many folks who get bamboozled by a little-mentioned security feature of Windows. Your culprit is a strategy designed to keep people from mistakenly erasing files that they have carefully transferred to a new computer from CDs and other removable storage gear.

In your case, Windows has tagged each song file for read-only use when it copied the tune from the CD to your hard drive.

So, when the iTunes software tries to move the files onto Apple's mobile player, an error message pops up.

The fix is quite easy: Right-click on any music file icon, and select Properties from the menu that pops up. There, you will see the check box for "read only." Remove the check, and your iPod will eat this stuff up.

I just had a vision of you going from icon to icon to give that right-click to each song in turn. Bummer. It is possible to do these fixes on batches of files at one time. Put them all in a folder on your hard drive, then open the folder and click the mouse inside the folder. Press Control-A to select all of the files therein. Right-click on any one of the files and choose Properties. When you remove the check from that "read only" box on any of the selected files, it will change all the highlighted items at one time.

All of a sudden, when I try to open my picture files with the left click, I get the Windows "search results" window. All the picture folders except Picasa are misbehaving. I have tried to create new folders with the intention of moving the contents there, but the new (empty) folder behaves in the same way. (It opens to the "search results" window.)

By first right-clicking on the folder, then clicking on Open, I am able to open the files. All other folders open normally. I tried System Restore and checked the file folder settings, all to no avail.

As problems go, this is more of a nuisance, but it would sure cheer up my day if you could help.

-- Marija Raudys

I'll either get cheers or jeers on this one, but I smell a rat, and its name is Picasa. The cause could be a glitch involving something else, but these mouse bugs almost always are traced back to changes made to your computer's Windows system registry when something new is installed on the computer.

I suspect Google's superb free photo tracking and sharing software because Picasa file icons open OK on your computer, while other image files do not. Another reason to be suspicious is that after Picasa users download this program from the Google Web site, over time they are asked to download upgrades.

If you have installed anything else other than Picasa lately, there could be a different culprit, but either way, the fix is the same: Remove the most recently installed program from the computer.

That is done using the Add or Remove Programs tool that is reached by clicking on Start and then selecting the Control Panel icon.

Open Add or Remove Programs and wait while the computer compiles the names of all of the applications installed since the first day out of the box.

When the list of programs comes up, use the Sort tool in the upper right corner to search by the heading Date Last Used. This highlights the most recently installed program. That program is your prime suspect.

Now you need to make a bit of a choice.

If the software highlighted isn't Picasa, you need to consider how badly you need it. If it is Picasa, remove it.

Or you could just delete Picasa and see what happens. You may want to do that if the most recently added program is something that you really need. Either way, I think you'll be delighted.

Because this answer required me to bad-mouth Picasa a tad, let me add that this glitch on one demented Dell's hard drive is very rare, and Picasa usually is a gem. Available at, the program brilliantly organizes collections of digital pictures. And it is free.

Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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