how-to record on your ipod (for free)


apple cripples recording on an ipod so belkin and griffin then have to sell us add-on devices for over $50 that can only record at 8khz, which is all pretty shitty. apparently (the rumor is) apple does this so people don’t use their ipods to record stuff they think we shouldn’t, like concerts, whatever.

but don’t worry, there’s a way around it and you can record at high quality, all for free.

1. Install Podzilla on your iPod (not all models are supported).
2. Boot in to Linux on your iPod.
3. Go to Extras > Recordings, choose 8,32,44.1,88.2 or 96kHz the higher, the better quality.
4. Record via Line In a microphone or even use your headphones.
5. Boot back in to the normal iPod OS plug in to the doc, grab your files from the iPod in the “Recordings” folder.

i suspect the next version of the ipod won’t allow booting in to linux and/or this type of recording. enjoy it while you can.

with all the podcasting people out there apple should consider not crippling our ipods so we can all use ipods to record, apple could do this now with a simple software update… or i guess i can keep booting in to linux and never update this ipod or just buy a cheap recorder, bah.

216 thoughts on “how-to record on your ipod (for free)

  1. i have a 3g and when i go to record i press the action button and then te time meter starts but 1 second on the clock is more like 5 seconds real time. then when i go back to play it the sound file is all weird and dosent sound like any thing. dose any one know how to fix this

  2. Good stuff,

    An online contact of mine had a problem accessing the home directory in Linux on command line, because there was a space in the user name. If anyone else reading has this problem then a solution would be to use a backslash after the first word. For example /home/user name/. Prevention would be to ensure that any space in your *nix username is represented as an underscore. within a user profile you can specifiy your real name, with spaces.

    I have a Creative Zen, talk about difficult without a Windows box, it’s difficult to even hook up the player to the PC without Windows, but completey freezing out “transfers”?! This concept of paying to transfer audio from one place to another confuses and upsets me! Rock on with the podcasting, these iPod thingys have a great way of causing social change that non-iPodders benefit from!! IMO, No way would I indulge myself with an iPod, function over design when it comes to

  3. actually theres a way of getting the creative to run on linux

    also i haven’t had any freezing so far, either on my zen xtra(pretty sweet little piece of rig, apart from the non music file stuff) or my bro’s jukebox 3, and this despite having 20 back up about 10 gigs of songs twice (backups, his jukebox has some issues with the audio out, creative swapped it out under warrenty, the first time and the second was to get music into my hdd the second time)
    The zen dosen’t seem as hackable as the ipod though, prolly cause its not as famous. There does seem to be (rather inconsistant) blocking of some tracks on the newest file management clients, but these are mostly the useless demo tracks you get with the player

    and as for the anti ipod crowd- vote with your feet, or better yet, submit stuff! complaining and whining is NEVER the way to solve anything

  4. when i play back the files i recorded they are skipping and frezzing every time i was wondering if i was sapposta type in something becuse i just downloaded the linux thing installed it and every thing works exept the recording and some pictures

  5. This for me is the mother of all iPod hacks. I now not only have every song in my music library in my pocket but a kick ass field recorder with practically unlimited space. I can guarantee that I’ll be making my podcast on the go now.

    Also do you guys have any idea what it is like to run a site that is supposed to deliver new, hot, and fresh hacks on a weekly basis? NO! Its not easy to keep on spitting out content for us. If you had an iPod (espically a 3G) you would be jumping for joy.

  6. So I installed it and all wet well and quickly. Tried recording, but a little confused, iPod asks to have “Action” button pressed to initiate recording but nothing seems to happen. Fooling around (my fav thing…) within this mode gives a display of time (00:00:00) but nothing happens. The “Playback” folder is really just the “File Browser” and furthermore I cannot find a “Recordings” under that normal OS.


  7. I got this to work on my iPod, I love it, 96kHz sampling rate simply sounds amazing, take advantage of it people. Even though this is great, I agree, there are a bit too many iPod hacks right now, but I guess it is a real hot-topic right now. Afterall every other person got one for the holidays.

  8. So has anyone installed iPodLinux and then restored using the Apple restore software? The reason I ask is that I have a 3G iPod I might need to return to Apple and I would like to be able to return it without Linux on it to avoid warranty questions.

  9. keep the hacks coming and ignore the flames :D who doesn’t want them, doesn’t have to take them! I haven’t tried it yet, don’t even know how to put Linux on there first *shame* but I’ll try as soon as I have time. The Belkin VoiceRecorder was ambivalent, which equals quite disappointing, so far. Happy New Year!

  10. Hey! Nice hack – works beautifully. Now, I will point out (since it is not clear from what I’ve read here so far) that what you will get is a mono 16-bit recording. I recorded through the headphone output (since there is no indication that it should be elsewhere) with a stereo cable and input. Does anyone know if it is possible to get it to record in stereo? Any hacks yet for level monitoring? My minidisk recorder is just about kaput, and I have high hopes for this as a small field recorder! Thanks!!

  11. Thanks for the feedback on restoring, mobilexile. I talked with the developer of the Mac OS X installer and he said he believed hardware limitations would inhibit stereo recording with 3G iPods.

  12. Damn, you’d think someone was forcing these whiners to read the iPod hacks at gun-point or something. It’s simple guys, if it says “iPod Hack” and you aren’t interested…move the fuck on.

    As for this hack…I love it. I have a 30Gb 3G iPod that now runs linux and lets me record…that’s just too cool. Granted, it won’t make the world a better place but it was fun to do. Looking forward to other hacks and any updates to this one.


  13. I;ve installed this firmware into my iPod and all I can say is that after 30 minutes of scrutinizing it, I uninstalled it because I thought I didn’t need a different OS on my iPOd that had a crappy playback. But I’m pretty doped about the development of this hack because it’s free and it’s cool.

  14. I can understand that some people don’t want to read iPod hacks, but why leave a comment? Don’t read the article! I love this tip and hope to get my 4G iPod booted in Lynux once the podzilla folks support the 4Gs. Great article PT!

  15. I really think you need to add to your instructions that the recording hack ONLY works on 3G iPods – I tried this on a 1G 10Gb Mac formatted iPod and while the installer/uninstaller worked flawlessly I found that I couldn’t record anything (the clock timer just wouldn’t start). I’d love to know if anyone can get this implemented on the 1G iPod’s – it would make putting up with the stupid penguin on boot up worth it, but in the meantime I’ve reverted to a clean Apple install.

  16. When used on my 3g 20gb with a line-level source, the audio is overloaded when mic input is selected (of course, its amped), but when line in is selected, the audio level is very low and lacking fidelity. With recordings longer than ~5 sec, the audio also becomes garbled. Is this known/common or is it something wrong on my behalf?

  17. Loook,, enough of the BS..
    as far as I am concerned, this site is provided to us (the internet community)
    for posting unusual and different methods of modifying expensive stuff to do what you would really like it to do versus what the company wants you to do and wants you to buy if you want to do something else other than what they explicitily what you to do.. Personally I think all the various hacks listed on this site i-pod or not are really cool..
    Putting requests to ban any kind of modification to any device or software which may not be intended by corporate america I think is BS and subverts the freedom of speech and exchange of ideas within the community to spawn what may be the next generation of tech..
    As stated before, if you do not like the content provided by this web site. Go else where, or start your own.. Other wise get off and shut up about it, or do something constructive to support/promote it in a positive manner.. Complaining about insignificant stuff is best left to kids/immature individuals and people who lack the grasp of reality and it’s true nature..

    Thank you for your time and attention to this comment.

  18. In reference to 4. The iPod is unbelievably crippled by Apple. The 3rd Gen has a dual 90MHz processor but is underclocked at 44MHz. In reference to 1. The 4th Gen (Clickwheel) and iPod Mini are not yet supported. I am currently (and have been for a LONG time) dual booting the native iPod OS and Linux. I find that Linux has many many more features than the native OS. The only thing holding me back from deleting the native OS is the fact that it tries to load everything into memory because it does not have smart caching (did that come out right?), which leads to a “malloc failed” error when trying to play huge .WAV files and somewhat staticy playback on MP3s with higher bitrates. In reference to 11. There was quite a bit of hacking involved in this project. A large portion was guesswork because the iPod firmware is closed-source. The rest of it deals mainly with hacking the uClinux kernel to run on the iPod, trust me, there was a lot of hacking invloved here. In reference to 22. It is not very early beta. If you scrounge through the forums and the supplementary websites, there are applications and hacks that solve a lot of those problems. hdparm for one is a battery saver, it spins down the harddrive when idle for x number of seconds (where x is defined by the user). In reference to 52. The root directory is “/” (without the quotes) on your /dev/hda3 partition. In reference to 61. If you backed up the MBR and tossed the apple firmware into a .bin, then it should be possible to dd it back in.

  19. I have installed podzilla on a 3g and it seems to record and make a file of the approximately appropriate size in the recordings folder, but when I play it back on my mac, there is no sound, the file is silent. Anyone else have this problem?

  20. everyone who had a recording problem, i had almost everyone of them, here is a step by step process on how i got it to work. (it is really amazing how good the quality is)

    install podzilla (no one had much of a problem on this step)

    enable disk use in the ipod preferences in iTunes

    if there isn’t already, make a empty file named “Recordings”, and drag it into the ipod image on your desktop

    boot into linux, by holding the play and action buttons at the same time (this won’t work on 4th gen., ipod mini, ipod photo, or ipod U2), when you see the apple logo (or before), hold the skip left button.

    go to “Extras”, “Recordings”, “Mic Record” (i tried “Line In Record” with a microphone plugged in, and it was really quiet for the first 5-10 sec, then it went into static, try this setting with other microphones/no microphone if my way doesn’t work).

    find a microphone that will fit into the headphone port (yes, the same one you plug your earphones into)

    push the action button, talk, push the action button again

    go to playback (optional)

    go to the last one in the list and click the action button (optional) you should be able to hear the recording you just made through your microphone, or you can plug in earphones

    push the play and action buttons to boot into the regular ipod os (it has to be in the regular ipod OS for your mac to see it), plug in in to your mac

    open the ipod image on your desktop, and open the “Recordings” folder, you should see an iTunes file, with a name something like “01012000 000309”

    if it doesn’t work, try everything again (save the reinstallation of linux), if that doesn’t work, get another microphone, if that doesn’t work, plug in some earphones and yell real loud, if that doesn’t work, spend 5 min doing every possible configuration of microphones and “Mic Record”/”Line In Record”
    Hope this helps.

  21. what a great site pt! i’m one of your ipod loving philistines that’s come across this site bc of the ipod hacks. Keep em comin is all i have to say. And to the whingers, why don’t you step away from the screen for a while and take out your girlfriend – assuming you have one?!? ;)

  22. Yes, the headphone jack works by inserting the minijack into it for recording or the line in jack can be used from the charging base (have not tried line in jack yet)(mic jack works great though, very clean nice recording)

  23. has anyone attempted to use their ipod as a voice recorder tried to then transcribe a voice recording into ilisten, the macspeech dictation software? I haven’t figured out how to put linux on my ipod yet and get podzilla running, but my reason for even doing so would be for transcription. since the specs on the ipod recordings seem acceptable for the ilisten software, min. 16 khz sample frequency, 16 bit mono, i just wanted to see if anybody else out there is trying this out.

  24. this is so cool. and thanks mr. man(#86) for the step by step. once i figured out what the hell the action button was(the one in the middle of the circle)and got around this “boot into linux, by holding the play and action buttons at the same time” and follwing this invaluable step “if it doesn’t work, try everything again” (a few times)-voila it worked. once again, this is so cool.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s