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Hacking MP3s on your Nokia or LG phone

If you were excited to receive your new LG or Nokia phone with music support, reading the User's Guide must have been a real downer. There you will have learned that transferring music to your phone requires:

Luckily, the guide is wrong. This article describes a loophole that allows you to transfer standard MP3 files to your Nokia or LG phone by purchasing a Micro SD card, plugging it into a USB Flash Card Reader attached to your computer, and transferring the files using the file system. Read on to see how it's done.

First step: Initialize the Micro SD card

Before transferring music to the card, it's necessary to let the phone initialize it. First power down the phone. Uncover the Micro SD slot on the side of the phone and plug in the SD card. If you don't have fingernails, a paperclip comes in handy here. When you turn the phone back on, it will detect the card and initialize it. Give that process a little time to complete and then power off the phone again and remove the card by pressing it in gently all the way and then releasing it so that it pops out. A paperclip comes in handy again.

Next step: Plug the SD card into a card reader

Your Micro SD card should have come with a standard size SD adapter which will fit in most card readers. Plug the Micro SD into that and then the assembly into the card reader. From here you should be able to begin transferring MP3s to the card. The folder they should be stored in is called "my_music". Don't put MP3 files which are organized into subfolders into this folder; if you do they won't be detected by the phone. Make "my_music" a completely flat folder containing all of your MP3 files. Don't worry about this because if your MP3 files are properly tagged, the phone will still organize them by artist and album.

OS X file system annoyances

If you are using Macintosh OS X, you will have noticed that it has a bad habit of creating a hidden file associated with each regular file you transfer to the SD card. These files will not be hidden when you view your music folder on the phone, and they will clutter up your listing. There is a simple solution to this problem which is a little advanced because it requires you to use Terminal:

When the phone initialized the Micro SD card, it gave it the name "NO NAME". If you have renamed it to something else, substitute that name in the commands above. After you run these commands, immediately eject the disk so that OS X does not have another opportunity to add hidden files to the SD card.

Final step: Playing music

Pop the Micro SD card back into the phone, turn on the phone, and access "My Music" from the menu system. You should see the songs that you just transferred over.


Cellular service providers are trying very hard to tighten down all the screws related to do-it-yourself MP3, but if you look hard enough, there are a few loopholes that allow you to enjoy the music you already paid for once on your phone.

Further reading

For another cell phone loophole that allows you to create custom ringtones and transfer them to your cell phone via email, see my article Hacking ringtones on your Nokia or LG Verizon phone.

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Last modified: Mon Oct 26 10:31:24 CDT 2009