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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

ml_ipod + winamp + iphone sync = true

So ...

I was desperate for a solution to syncing music to my iPhone without the use of iTunes. After some "hacking" here's what I came up with in the end that worked.

As far as I know, it's the first and currently only solution to syncing music with your iPhone under MS Windows without using iTunes, and also the only wireless solution under MS Windows. Be warned, though, it's not for the faint hearted [edit note: the current revision is a lot easier than the first one I posted, so my mum could do it now].

You need:

Disable auto-lock in Settings - General on the iPhone (set to "Never") so that your wi-fi connection isn't disconnected during the process.

NOTE: The next step marked with square brackets involving PuTTY is no longer needed if you use abu's new patch, 3.02p02 from http://mlipod.sourceforge.net/index.php?page=patches, install this _after_ you have installed Winamp and ml_ipod 3.02 later in this guide

[SSH with PuTTY to your iphone. You need the IP address to the iPhone and it's easiest to be on the same Wi-Fi network as the computer when doing this. Mine used, yours wont. Login with root and your password (google for iPhone OpenSSH default password if you haven't set one) and cd to /private/var/root/Media. From there, make a symbolic link: "ln -s iTunes_Control iPod_Control".]

Install SftpDrive and set it up to connect to your iphone using the same login information as for PuTTY. I made it so my iPhone was on drive letter T: and set Directory: to /private/var/root/Media, then click Connect. My setup:

If you go to My Computer you should now have a T: with the directories DCIM, iTunes_Control and so on in the root.

Next install Winamp and ml_ipod (with patch mentioned earlier if you're going for that option). Fire up Winamp options - preferences - ipod support. For testing, I unchecked all checkboxes from these tabs: home, features and sync, you should do the same, but can leave in album art if you have installed the patch. Then go to the advanced tab and check "look for iPods on network and fixed drives".

After you hit OK, you should get a dialog that asks you which kind of iPod you have just connected. Choose iPod Classic (or iPhone if you've used the previously mentioned ml_ipod patch). If the dialog doesn't appear, try to restart Winamp.

Now, sync it as you usually do. It will take some time since the files get transfered over your Wi-Fi network. I got around 600 kB/s.

That's it! Fire up the player on your iPhone and play your newly synced tracks! I like Mos Def so he got the honor of being first.

You do everything at your own risk.

Good luck!


Edit: The main developer of ml_ipod, Abu, have been notified and will come up with an easier solution soon.

Edit2: If you're resyncing and the tracks don't show up in "iTunes" on the iPhone, try restarting the iPhone (hold the power button until the display shows "Slide to power off") and then turn it on again.

Edit3: ml_ipod 3.02p02 was just released. Syncing album art should work as well now.

Edit4: Added some more screenshots and cleaned it all up.


abu said...

This is a cool way, thanks!

I just uploaded ml_ipod 3.02 patch 01, which supports this sftpdrive workaround. So no need to create the symlink any more.

Download it at

Anonymous said...

Absolutely useless!

I bought my iPhone to not only sync music, but contacts, appointments, videos, etc.

eirik said...

Anonymous: Well, you could just use iTunes. Or you can go for other alternatives, SyncEvolution does sync other stuff as well (like contacts/calendar). And I guess ml_ipod will sync video soon, too.

kissan said...

Pretty cool, Eia...

Now, the only thing missing is for me to get an iPhone :)

T509 said...


Thanks for the trick. I tested it on iPhone 1.1.2 and it works.

Translated and put on frenchiphone.com forum with awards for you.

Anonymous said...


Especially when you have to sync with more than 1 computer and you do not want to compromise your iTunes library.

Great work!

sun said...

hi friend

I find the tool ipod rip

it can sync very good

eddanx said...

@Sun: Well, couldn't understand anything on that site.

T509 said...


What is needed more ...

* SyncML compatibility to get PIM functionnality
* Acces to SQLite databases for address book, calendar, ...
* Ability to sync personal data with the music list

I think ml_ipod can do it

Anonymous said...

Tried on my ipod Touch (1.1.1). Allowed me to sync with Winamp, but now I can't view any videos or listen to any music on the device. Both libraries appear empty on the device. iTunes says that the unit is corrupted. However, I can play music from Winamp with no problem. Help..

eddanx said...

@anonymous: Guess this won't work if you're using iTunes, this is an alternative method to using iTunes. Anyway, try to resync with Winamp and then restart your iPhone (hold the power-off button for 5-7 seconds until "slide to POWER OFF" is displayed). If the music library on your iPhone still is empty, you'll probably have to restore the music database through iTunes somehow.

And yes, videos is (afaic) not currently supported with ml_ipod, so if you want those to sync, stick with iTunes for now.

Minini said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
R3DDR4G0N said...


i have the same problem.
My Database is empty on my ipod.
I restored my ipod and jailbreaked it again.
But same problem.

I can't sync through iTunes because i use Vista 64Bit.

eddanx said...

I guess the guys having problems should talk with the ml_ipod developer. Check out these links:

Main site:


Anonymous said...

Is there a way to just upload my collection of MP3 and video files (already organized in folders) without syncing? Even generic brands of MP4s can do this by just copying the files directly into the device, the same way I do with my Data files in a USB drive.

DKLA said...

Thanks for this tip... it works great! I have an unlocked and jailbroken iPhone and my iTunes Libray got out of sync, and I didn't feel like Restoring because I'd have to re-jailbreak. This allows me to add more music to my iPhone without wiping everything out.

BTW, I'm getting some good speeds of 775 kpbs - not bad considering it's a wi-fi sync.

Thanks! :)

Haqwin said...

Thats cool, i'll have to try this out. If I just didn't hate WinAMP. So, some says I could just go ahead and use iTunes. Well that's no optieon either, beeing on in Vista 64Bit, that iTunes do not support!

Jeremy said...

Legend! i love having the ability to sync wirelessly. Fanastic :)

You might beable to answer a question i have regarding itunes librarys. Is there any way i can add a file to my iPhone then have that copied to my iTunes library if i choose to plug it in there? Or at least just leave this file on my iPhone?

The use case is, download a movie and be able to view it on iPhone without having to go through iTunes. Then ideally not loose the file once synced with iTunes.

Cheers and Godt nytår :)


SpeGase A said...

Nice shot, i use it and works for me perfectly. (v1.1.1)
But for people like me who don't like sharewares and using samba already there is a work around.

-install mp_ipod + patch
-edit smb.conf by adding /private/var/root/Media (don't forget read only = No)
- map the share with windows native mapping system in a drive.
- you winamp see it immediately

+: no shareware to install
+: no heavy ssh encryption
+: much more portable (at friend places, work, ...)
+: next time just turn one wifi+samba and go !

-: need samba
-: clear transfert
-: /private/var/root/Media direct full access

This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.


SpeGase A said...

I forgot...

+:40% faster ;-)) (avg:290k)

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately i`m stuck with firmware 1.0.2 due to unlocking sim (i live outside usa).
Winamp even played tunes from my iphone database wirelessly
It just never asks for iphone, so i cannot sync.
I was looking for a way to get rid of itune's only one pc chain. I don`t care for the wi-fi issue, it is undoubte is cool, but not as fast as cable.
Btw what is the problem whit these guys so fond of itunes ? Do they have only one pc in their lives ?

Anonymous said...

mine is a 1.0.2 firmware. I followed the steps and was able to recognize iphone on Vista wirelessly, and even played a song remotely on winamp.
Winamp though never recognized iphone, no matter how i tried. Until i try to connect iphone with a cable just to force a recognizing. Guess what, it works! I am still unable to transfer wirelessly, but who cares, now i am not stuck with itunes database anymore! And it worked flawlessly, no damage to iphone songs database. Next i have to figure out what else can i dismiss, once i am running on a cable connection. Sfp, maybe?
Thanxs a lot and congrats!
jah_lah from Brazil

Anonymous said...

Hi, i have a problem with sftpdrive. it does not show the media directory in root, it shows the entire file system instead. i tried to enter /private/var/root/media as the custom directory but it didn´t help. sync over usb works. thanx

Anonymous said...

I tried to copy vids from the iPhone to my computer but it didn't work..said transfering at 0kb/s =( do you know how can to do it?

Anonymous said...

I have 5.52 Winamp & 3.04 ml_ipod, but Winamp wont recognize my iphone!

Antimatter15 said...

For iphone firmware 1.1.3+ the directory is now /var/media/mobile/Media

Everything else should be the same.

Jessie said...

I can't get the dialog that asks you which kind of iPod you have just connected... I have tried restarting PC & Winamp.. help pls!

kevin n. coleman said...

I was having trouble with my iPhone only taking 29 songs through iTunes. This seems to do the trick.

Jos said...

The directory mentioned by Antimatter15 is wrong. For firmwares 1.1.3 and 1.1.4 it is /var/mobile/Media.
More importantly, this solution does not work with these firmwares. ml_ipod happily recognises the Ipod and shows what is on it. The moment this happens the changes that are done by ml_ipod causes the ipod to say that there is no music present, and Itunes to say that it cannot read any data and that the firmware needs to be restored.
A solution would be greatly appreceated, as I realy want this to work for me.

JohnB said...

If you run Parallels on Mac OS X, you won't need SftpDrive:

1. Mount your iPhone on your Mac OX desktop via WiFi (http://wickedpsyched.net/iphone/afp/).

2. Browse from Windows to the mounted iPhone filesystem through Parallels' shared folders (\\.PSF\.Mac\Volumes).

3. Map the iPhone "Media" folder to a Windows drive letter.

4. You're done.

Michael said...

Hei Eirik,

Var på leting etter en måte å putte inn mp3 sanger på iphonen uten bruk av itunes og fant bloggen din på google! Håper alt går bra :)

Mange takk for løsningen, skal prøve det ut senere.


Anonymous said...

What a total arse! how can this possibly deemed as useless. The only thing useless about this thread. All I want is a phone with some tunes on it and this is perfect. If I want to sync the rest of the crap bundled with the phone then I will use iTunes to do so, it is my choice as it is yours.

ShipiboConibo said...

ATTENTION: If iTunes tells you that you must restore you iphone after trying this don't do that! Just try using MediaMonkey to sync your files. Not only does it work better than this, it also repairs whatever this method screws up on the newer iPhones!

Basti said...

Anyone tried http://www.jscape.com/reddrive/ instead of sftpdrive? It's freeware. Probably it works as well!

Anonymous said...

a little tweaking and it works nice.
just need to reboot phone after sync.
many thanks

ps. glad to get rid of itunes..;)

Daniel Bennett said...

For iPod Touch/iPhone, you need to go to
not what you said.

THEN it will work and appear in WInamp!

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone.

I've done all successfully except that winamp can't recognize the iphone, even after restarting.

The phone appears in My Computer and can also be browsed.

Any ideas?

Nico said...

this rocks, just awesome! because i am a windows xp 64-bit user, ppl that have the same os know what problem it is to install itunes on that os :) thank you so much

Dre said...

To solve the disappearance of music on device install latest version of itunes close it and run winamp. This should solve the problem

Anonymous said...

Winamp is definitely not the most updated way to manage an iPhone as its full compatibility with the latest iPhone firmware is not ensured.

I found this tutorial using another tool called CopyTrans Manager


and frankly is much more reliable.

Edgard said...

It's extremely frustrating the lack of documentation provided by users that achived their goals and they don't even say "thanks" to developers.

I spent 6 hours, on a holiday trying to figure out how to sync music wirelessly to my iphone. All what I had was a laptop with 3G Internet. I had to make my laptop behave as I access point so my Iphone can connect to it.

This is the best solution I found. But I got stuck on 2 things:

1. Realize the right Media folder path for firmware 2.0.1 (Impossible to believe but I'm still on that version). I tried different path that I'm not sure which one is the right one. I found the same content in 3 different places. Try this one.


2. I also spent another hour trying to understand why I couldn't see the songs on the iPhone if winamp showed they were there. After reading some post I realize that you have to change the Database Version.

Edit /System/Library/Lockdown/Checkpoint.xml, find the DBVersion key, and change its value from 4 to 2. Save and reboot.

Please guys if you ever find the solution for something that is not well documented please give back something to the community by posting your findings. There is awesome people out there like abu that deserves at least "thank you" and a donation if it's possible.

I'm one of the laziest person in the world, but I took an extra 10 minutes to post this.

Dominik said...


tried this with changing the db version, after reboot i cant see the songs in iphone :(

winamp told me they are on the phone


Well Whattadya know, yet another great site to add to my reader! iphone

manutencao iphone said...

Thanks so much. This came up in a Google search for the error string and it's been a great help -- the last step I needed before getting my app to run on my iPod Touch. The only info to add is that users should do multiple finds for PROVISIONING_PROFILE, as my pbx file had four separate instances that needed fixing.

Jason said...

stream2me, does music (wifi or 3g) and video, why go through all this hassle?

Anonymous said...

You're replacing iTunes with Winamp? Really??

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