I recently did a couple of recordings using my new iPhone 4, and ran into a problem that others have been having regarding syncing Voice Memos to/from iTunes from Apple devices running iOS4. I have managed to work around the problem, without resorting to deleting the memos in question. Hopefully this can be useful to some. The main caveat is that this will only work for users running Windows.
You must make sure that your device is not syncing with iTunes when using this guide. Close iTunes completely before follwing any of the steps below.
Update 16th July 2010
Some users are reporting that the files appearing in the iPhone Browser window are M4A as opposed to MOV detailed below. If this is the case, then you should be able to transfer the voice memos directly from the device as detailed below without any conversion. I would suggest that you check each voice memo all of the way through before deleting it from your device to check that it hasn’t been corrupted or mis-converted. If all memos play correctly, then you can remove them within the app.
Step 1 – Download iPhone Browser
iPhone Browser bypasses iTunes, allowing you to access the files directly on your device rather than going through iTunes. It should be noted that this is third party software and is not supported in any way by Apple, and is provided with no warranty, however I have used it and tested that it works.
Download iPhone Browser and install it. Connect your device, and start iPhone Browser. It should automatically connect to your device and show its contents. The screen should look like the one on the left (click the image to view a larger version).
Step 2 – Save the Memos
Navigate to the Recordings folder in the list on the left – you will then see a list of files. From here, I suggest that you save all of the files to a temporary folder on your hard drive. If you want to select multiple files, hold the “Control” key and click on the files to save. When you have the files selected, right-click on any highlighed file and click “Save As“, and choose a location to save to – for simplicity, I suggest creating a folder called Temp in your user’s home folder (you’ll see why later).
Even though iTunes saves voice memos as M4A files, the files you need to save are the MOV files (QuickTime video). I believe that iTunes transcodes these into m4a when syncing, which could explain the high CPU usage and “hangs” that users are reporting – in fact iTunes is still working, but transcoding the files into M4A.
Once the files have transferred, you can then close iPhone Browser, delete them from your device within the Voice Memo app, re-launch iTunes and the device should sync properly.
Step 3 – Converting MOV to MP3/M4A
Playing the MOV files in any player will not give you usable audio. You then need to extract the audio data from the file. The command-line utility FFMPEG is a very handy tool for manipulating multimedia, you can download a Windows version here (I have uploaded it to my own webspace for ease of access, as the distributable version is .
Download FFMPEG, and move the file into the same folder as your MOV files. Open a command prompt by pressing Windows+R and typing “cmd” into the box. By default, the window should have the path to your home directory loaded. Type “cd <foldername>” (without quotes) to move into that folder. For example “cd Temp” will move into the Temp folder. Now run the following command to extract the audio from the MOV file:
ffmpeg -i file.mov audio.mp3
Substitute file.mov for the filename of the MOV file, and FFMPEG will convert the audio into a file called audio.mp3.
If you would like the audio in m4a format, just replace “audio.mp3″ with “audio.m4a” and FFMPEG will automatically convert it. The output should look something like the image on the left (as before, click for a larger version).
You can then move the MP3/M4A files into your iTunes library to sync with the rest of your music if you like.
Hope that’s been some help! If you have any questions or queries, please comment