The Third Device

A blog about the iPad.

Managing media on your iPad

I find that having iTunes configured to “Manually manage music and videos” on my iPad is the most useful way to, well, manage your media. By selecting this option, you can simplify your loading process by just quickly dragging and dropping music and videos straight from the Finder onto the little iPad icon in the iTunes sidebar. This avoids the annoying step of having to first copy the media into iTunes and then loading it via the sync process, which can take a while.

Take control of your media

More importantly, this liberates your iPad from being dependent on just one computer – you can hook it up to other people’s computers and copy stuff off of them using the same method.

Although the checkbox says “Manually manage music and videos”  it works for ebooks too! Any ebook files that you have lying around in the EPUB format will automatically appear on the iBooks bookshelf once you drag and drop them onto your iPad. This is a great way to populate your iBooks library with any ebooks that you might already own. I  highly recommend Calibre to do your EPUB migration . It does a good job converting pretty much any (unencrypted) book format, although I’ve encountered an annoying bug with some PDFs where words like “all” and “shall” appear as “al” and “shal”.

Now here’s the interesting part – if you’ve copied music, videos, or books from another computer, there’s seemingly no way to get those files off  your iPad and onto your own computer. Fear not, those files aren’t stuck on your iPad forever. There’s a workaround using a program called Disk Aid which allows you access to the iPad’s filesystem. Once inside, you can grab those files (or anything else you’d like to backup) and copy them over to your own desktop. Watch this video for a look at the process – it’s demonstrated running on a PC but will work equally well on a Mac.

Disk Aid also lets you extract media from iPhones and iPod Touches. It’s $10 but has a 14-day trial, so if you’ve been accumulating stuff on your device and need to do a one time copy, grab the demo and get to it!

Disk Aid to the rescue!


May 31, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Nice article. Thanks for the tips. My dad will like this.

    Comment by Dickoy | May 31, 2010 | Reply

  2. can you also use diskaid to drag and drop files onto the ipad? and should you reorganize the file structure, will itunes be able to: 1) recognize the new structure; and 2) faithfully back-up and restore your reorganized ipad files?

    Comment by Roland | May 31, 2010 | Reply

    • Yes to the first question – if you check out the Disk Aid website, it advertises the app’s ability to now let you use your iDevice as a USB drive for files.

      As for reorganizing the file structure – unless you’re jailbroken, Disk Aid will only let you see media folders (as opposed to the root) probably to protect you from yourself.

      I’m not about to try any major file housekeeping. I noticed for instance that my iPad’s music content is arranged in cryptic numbered folders with four letter coded titles rather than an album/artist hierarchy … That seems pretty easy to screw up.

      Comment by Vic | May 31, 2010 | Reply

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