Howto: Use iPod with Winamp 5.2 instead of iTunes

winamp+ipod.pngMany of us can’t stand iTunes. That’s just a fact, not a statement in the heated Mac vs. Windows debate (which recently has to cope with the possibility of having both Mac and Windows on the same machine). Fortunately, there is a way to use iPod with with the hottest media player around – Winamp. With version 5.2 and onwards, there is support for portable media players, such as iPod. I quickly made the swap, however, immediately encountered problems. Winamp 5.2 and the famed plugin ml_ipod didn’t work well together. As a matter of fact, their co-operation was so bad that it cleared my iPod of it’s music (or rather, just messing up the database, because the music was still on the iPod). Others has also experienced these frustrating problems, and the cause was apparently that the new Winamp PMP plugin conflicted with ml_ipod.

UPDATE: As noted in the comments, the Winamp 5.21 do not experience these problems with the iPod. The tutorial below applies to those of you who have 5.2 and have problems with your iPod. If you have 5.21 and upwards, there should be no problems. Otherwise, read on.

However, I found a solution to all of this, and whether you have had problems or not with connecting iPod to your Winamp, I might as well share my experiences. The solution is quite straightforward – don’t use the new Winamp PMP plugin packaged with Winamp 5.2 together with ml_ipod, it can kill your iPod song database. Only if you have Winamp 5.21 or earlier than 5.13 you can use ml_ipod!. This worked for me, but I can’t guarantee it will work for you, so don’t blame me! Here’s how you do it:

  1. Download the latest Winamp. Current version is 5.21.
  2. (Optional) Download the ml_ipod plugin, even though the developer has left it behind and is now working with the official 5.2 PMP-plugin.
  3. Make sure that you have completely uninstalled previous versions of ml_ipod. If you already has Winamp 5.2 installed, you would do best in uninstalling it first too.
  4. Install Winamp.
  5. (Optional) Install ml_ipod according to the instructions on its web site. Pretty straightforward.
  6. For those who had problems with Winamp 5.2, your iPod would be cleared of music at this point. At least my iPod was already messed up and showed no songs, so iTunes gave me only one option: to default to factory settings. If your iPod is in the same sad state, you have to reset it and lose all data on it. Make backups from Windows Explorer when the iPod is connected – I will not go further into describing these procedures. To default to factory settings, download the iPod Updater software and select “Restore” after starting it.
  7. When restoring the iPod, it will default to launching iTunes on connectiong. So start iTunes, go into iPod settings and make sure iTunes won’t be started when connecting the iPod. Also enable using the iPod as a external harddrive in the settings.
  8. Disconnect the iPod from the computer.
  9. Start Winamp. Then plug in the iPod. After a while, it should show up in the Media Library sidebar.
  10. Sync or use autofill or any other available method to get the songs on the iPod. Check out the plugin help if needed or search the Winamp forums.


I have a 60GB iPod Video (that is, fifth generation) and so far, it works flawlessly with ml_ipod. Winamp has not much information on how to properly use the iPod with Winamp’s new plugin. I am sure that within a few Winamp version updates, ml_ipod won’t be needed as the built-in media player support of 5.2 gets more robust. People have also reported that they have had no problems using this plugin when using Winamp 5.21. However, ml_ipod still seems to have more features and might be worth using for that reason. Having both installed at the same time is in my opinion a bad idea no matter the case – even if no conflict occurs it will be confusing in the Media Player view, and it’s basically just very redundant.

Worth noting is that I’m a fan of Apple product design and work on usability, however porting iTunes to Windows hasn’t turned out very well.

I am happy to receive any corrections or suggestions!

11 thoughts on “Howto: Use iPod with Winamp 5.2 instead of iTunes”

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  2. In winamp 5.21 if you have both pmp_ipod and mlipod installed then pmp_ipod will detect the existance of mlipod and NOT load (you can tell because won’t show in the Portables preferences page).

    This became a non-issue with the release of 5.21.

    Winamp Developer

  3. Thanks for noting this Will! I started seeing this as a non-issue too while looking into it further the last day. However, there are still many people affected by this ml_ipod Winamp 5.2 problem. I had done this solution previously and just decided to write together what I did to get it work. As you see now, I updated the tutorial to reflect your information.

  4. I have installed the newest 5.24 on a clean OS install. Which means that I did not have the ml_ipod plugin installed. Guess what, yep, winamp still crashed upon me connecting my ipod and screwed up the song database in my ipod. Thanks winamp! Hell of a product you’ve got!

  5. Angela and I are having the same problem. Winamp v5.24 does not work with ml_ipod or pmp_ipod. No idea what to do…

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