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How can I transfer or copy music, photos and videos from my iPhone or iPad to my computer?
By default, Apple's tightly integrated iTunes infrastructure works quite well to transfer or copy music, photos and videos from a Mac or Windows PC to an iPhone or iPad.
Formal iTunes Abilities & Limitations
With the exception of the "transfer purchases feature" -- which allows one to restore purchased iTunes content from an iPhone or iPad to a computer -- as well as copy "personal" photos and videos, Apple's software does not make it easy to transfer or copy content from an iPhone or iPad, however.
iTunes 7 and higher allow one to use an iPhone or iPad to transfer songs purchased through iTunes to as many as five authorized computers. This only works for songs purchased through iTunes, not those ripped from CDs or downloaded from other sources, which tend to be more common.
This restriction was designed to discourage casual piracy, but unfortunately, this also prevents one from easily copying legally acquired content from one's own device to their own computer.
Third-Party Software Solutions
Fortunately, there are a number of third-party programs that make it easy to transfer one's music, video and photo collection from an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to a computer.
Three trustworthy programs are TouchCopy, which is available for both Mac and Windows; PhoneView, which is available just for Mac; and CopyTrans, which is available just for Windows. TouchCopy and PhoneView extract songs, videos and photos, and CopyTrans only extracts songs and videos, but has a separate application option -- CopyTrans Photo -- available for photo extraction. TouchCopy, PhoneView and CopyTrans all fully support iOS 5, too.
All three programs also are straightforward -- essentially you install the software and connect your iPhone or iPad -- but this video for TouchCopy shows it in action as well:
If there are other excellent programs that you have used (and you are neither affiliated with the company nor a spambot), please feel free to share. Thank you.