Recovering iTunes from an old Mac

My friend has an old Mac, a Mac G4 that he’s not turned on in years. He wants to recover the iTunes on there that contains purchased stuff from iTunes and CDs he imported to the library. The Mac G4 is running Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger) and iTunes version 9 something.

He showed me this article about how to do this:

But he has run into a new problem. The old Mac G4 has an Apple ID for an e-mail account with a cable provider he no longer has access to. The newer computer he wants to put all this on uses his current Apple ID. He completely forgot about the old Apple ID which is tied to the Mac G4 until he turned the thing on.

So the big question is, what is the procedure to recover and transfer the old iTunes to a new system considering that they are on different Apple IDs and he no longer has access to the old Apple ID?

It’s a huge pain in the ass to merge two Apple IDs together. In fact, I’m not sure it’s possible at all. Try checking with the Genius Bar.

For future reference, you should never, ever create a second Apple ID. If you need to change your e-mail address, you should sign in to your old Apple ID and change it in your account setting.

I think iTunes 9 allowed burning tracks onto CD and the Mac G4 probably has a CD burner. Get a stack of writeable CDs and burn all the tracks onto as may CDs as it takes. Carry the CDs to the new Mac and read them into iTunes.

If he still has the original CDs he imported into iTunes, it’s easier to just re-import them into the new iTunes account.

He’s mainly concerned about the purchases even though reading the CDs back in would require work.

I never looked into this myself, but reading in your own CDs, are they tied to the Apple ID they were created under? So simply moving those files isn’t going to work under another Apple ID?

I agree. This is a situation where he started using a new computer, forgot about the old one and at the same time changed to using a new Apple ID because he lost access to the old e-mail address. He said he didn’t think he had anything on the old system, but wanted to make sure and found about 60 purchases.

I was wondering if it was possible to authorize the new Apple ID from the old Apple ID? Or is doing an authorization only for the same Apple ID on a limited number of devices?

No, only purchased music is tied to an Apple ID.
As for the old ID - he should be able to log into that account even if he doesn’t have access to that email address any more. All he needs is the ID (the old email address) and the password. Once he logs in, he should be able to authorize the new machine, or (maybe) reset the email address.

Oh, if they’re ripped tracks from his own CDs, then he should just be able to drag-and-drop the files onto a flash drive and transfer them that way. No need to muck around with Apple IDs.

With iTunes 9, you can burn .m4p files to a straight audio CD, which means the DRM gets stripped away in the process. It takes more CDs than just moving the files, and then the CDs have to be ripped back into iTunes as .m4as or .mp3s (the latter is preferable, since .m4as cannot be burned to a playable .mp3 CD if need be).

Does going through this process reduce the audio quality noticeably?

If he knows to old email and password, he should be able to log into the old account and redownload the old purchases DRM free. He can then simply add them to the new iTunes library.

Given that most iTunes 9 era .m4ps are 128bit AAC encoding, which is slightly better than .mp3s at the same rate, and burning to an audio CD converts that to 1440 AIFF, you would certainly not be losing anything from the original file. If you rip to, say 160 .mp3s, you could be coming out about even. The only way you would lose quality would be from data errors in the burn or the read-back.

tied to an old isp that has most likely deleted the account

That shouldn’t matter, if he knows his Apple ID password.

I had assumed that he didn’t have his password, which is why the defunct status of the e-mail account was relevant.

In any case, the Apple ID and password is only important for music purchased from the iTunes Store using that account. It won’t help with ripped tracks. Those either have to be copied over or re-ripped.

Another option is to use an iPod or other portable data device, and a software like TouchCopy. I used TouchCopy, but there are many programs that do the same thing.

Once you get this all copied over, I suggest signing up for iTunes Match.

Thanks for everyone’s help. You folks give me some helpful ideas that led to asking more questions.

I did some further investigation and it turns out my friend’s old e-mail address that is show in iTunes on his Mac G4 is no longer an Apple ID with Apple. So I asked him to print out a list of his purchases on the iTunes Mac G4 and compare them with his current Apple ID on his new system. I suspected that he might have changed the e-mail address on the Apple ID, but didn’t update this information on the old Mac G4. In other words, there is only one Apple ID for these purchases, but he change the e-mail address. I figure it was worth a shot.

He did as I suggested and was delighted to tell me the exact same purchases from the old Mac G4’s iTunes where all accessible on his new system! whew. So we don’t have to worry about transferring the purchases. All that remains is about 7 GB of his CD collection from his old Mac G4 which should be able to drag over to the new system.

This explains why he couldn’t login with his old Apple ID with the old e-mail address because it no longer exists with Apple. But the “account” is still owned by him with the new e-mail address.