FAQ: Using Your Sansa Clip with Your Mac, Including a Script for Exporting iTunes Playlists

My Fellow Sansa Clip Users with Mac’s using OSX and iTunes.

Yes, the Sansa Clip will work with your Mac. And, you can create playlists from iTunes if you desire.

– Getting Started –

Charging the Battery (for those with a new Clip)
For those with a brand new Clip you will first want to get a full charge on the Clip’s battery. You do this by plugging it into an available USB port on your Mac. I found that on my iMac the keyboard USB port did not provide enough power for recharging (a message was displayed to that effect). Just be sure to use a port with sufficient power. My new Clip required close to 4 hrs to fully charge (as indicated on the Clip display battery icon).

Some Quick Education (skip this if you understand external drives)
When you plug your Clip into a Mac USB port, if the device itself is in a mode known as MSC (Mass Storage Class) it will show up on your desktop as a disk drive. My Clip, when purchased new (Jan 26, 2008), auto-configured to the MSC mode when I plugged it into my iMac, because it showed up as a new disk drive on my desktop (after fully charging the battery). So, as long as your Clip is in the MSC mode it just becomes an external drive on your Mac when plugged into a USB port. If you double click the icon for the drive (my showed with the name: SANSA M350 which you can change), you will see several files at the top level already on the drive. You will also see a folder named: MUSIC already on the drive. The MUSIC folder is where you will be copying your music files and playlists, using drag-and-drop.

Update the Firmware
To be certain the remainder of this post is valid, I recommend you upgrade your Clip’s firmware (internal software) to the latest version. You can check the current version of your firmware by turning on the Clip and using it’s display menu, navigate to Settings:System Info. Check here to find the post that describes how to download the latest version.

Once you download and decompress, a file named, m3XXa.bin (for Americas, X’s change with version) should be on your computer.

Now, plug the Clip into your USB port. After the it appears on your desktop, drag m3XXa.bin to it. Be certain it is copied to the top level (not to MUSIC). If you can see the Clip display you may see it say something about writing. Regardless, just wait a second or two to be certain the copy is complete.

Next, simply disconnect the Clip from your USB port and watch the screen. It should say something about upgrading firmware. This should take less than 10 seconds. Followed by, something like, “upgrade complete”. That’s it. Then repeat the above instructions for checking your firmware version.

– if you have a problem –
You might have a problem doing this. I did. After I copied the upgrade file, m3XXa.bin, the “upgrading firmware” message remained long after 10 seconds. And the device was completely disabled (hung). Fortunately, I found several posts here that saved me. First, to “reset” the device, you must:

  1. Slide the power switch on and hold for 10 seconds.
  2. Slide the power switch into the Hold/Lock position.
  3. Now while pressing the center “select” button, plug back into your USB
  4. You should see the Clip as a disk drive.
  5. You now must format/reformat the drive. This will remove anything you have copied to it!

– On your Mac, open the Disk Utility application (Applications:Utilities)
– Select the SANSA drive
– Click the Erase button/tab
– Choose MS-DOS File System (FAT 16) as the format
– Do it! (erase)

Now, with your newly formatted/reformatted drive, unplug from the USB and make sure you are back to a working Clip, e.g., go through the top level menus on the display. If you are not, try all “reset” steps again. If the device is still not working, I do not have a solution.

Finally, with your newly formatted Clip, repeat the steps for the firmware upgrade. Be careful about disconnecting too quickly after you copy m3XXa.bin. I think this may be the issue with the hanging. Not certain, though.

Set the Device Mode (if necessary)
The latest firmware allows you to set the USB mode of the clip to MSC or MTP or auto-detect.

Turn the Clip on.
Go to Settings: USB Mode
Choose Auto-Detect or MSC for the Mac.

Getting Songs onto the Clip
This is just a matter of copying files.

  1. Plug the Clip into your USB
  2. Copy song files (in the format the Clip accepts, see Clip manual) from your source to the MUSIC folder of the Clip drive.

NOTE (applies only to older versions of firmware): Copying files to the Clip on a Mac created extra files on the Clip and you would see them on the Clip display. If you are using an earlier firmware, you need something like the application, KopyMac to prevent this during copying. With the latest version of the firmware, this problem is eliminated.

FYI, if you keep your song files in the Artist:Album:song folder hierarchy on your source drive, you can copy the Artist folder to the Clip MUSIC folder and the hierarchy will be available through the Clip Music menu.

Creating Playlists Using iTunes
I have created an applescript that works with iTunes that will allow you to transfer your iTunes playlist songs and then writes an M3U file that can be used on the Sansa Clip under its Music Playlist menu. The script does not convert files in a playlist that are not in a format supported by the Clip, but it will notify the user if any such songs are found. The script has been tested under Tiger, but will likely work for other versions of OS X.

The script is available here:


The file available for download there is an OSX disk image (DMG). After download, double-click the .dmg file and follow the instructions provided in the Readme file contained in the opened folder.

Compatible with iTunes version 9.0.1 as of Oct 21, 2009.

Tested only under OSX 10.4.11.

Be sure to check the last few posts in this thread for any update information.

Message Edited by kwanzan on 08-26-2008 12:21 PM

Message Edited by kwanzan on 08-27-2008 09:28 AM

Message Edited by kwanzan on 09-18-2008 10:39 AM

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Message Edited by kwanzan on 11-19-2008 08:16 AM

Message Edited by kwanzan on 06-04-2009 04:44 PM

Message Edited by kwanzan on 06-05-2009 04:58 PM

Message Edited by kwanzan on 07-16-2009 12:06 PM

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Message Edited by kwanzan on 10-21-2009 11:32 AM

Message Edited by kwanzan on 10-21-2009 11:33 AM

Message Edited by kwanzan on 12-15-2009 01:10 PM

Message Edited by kwanzan on 12-15-2009 01:13 PM

Well, I’ve had no luck with the firmware upgrade and my Clip is now a nice brick. It just displays ‘Firmware upgrade in progress’ forever, be it connected or not to a USB port, and it cannot be formatted because it does not appear as a drive in my OS X desktop. I have followed all instructions in this post. What can I do now? Thanks for any advice


Albert -

Sorry you are having this problem.  The only thing I can suggest is to carefully follow steps 1-4, under “if you have a problem” in my post. I too experienced this very problem on my first attempt to upgrade the firmware. I found the steps for dealing with this problem in this forum. Had I not found those steps in another post, I had already decided to return the Clip.

Hopefully, you are just not being careful with those steps.

If you are not able to get the Clip into a state (electronically speaking) where OSX will recognize it again, you should be able to return it. Then, my suggestion, is, depending on where you purchased it (eg. Best Buy), they might be able to do the uprgrade for you, because the upgrade is platform independent. If that is not possible, then bring it home and following the upgrade steps again, but be very careful about removing the Clip after you’ve copied the firmware. Wait just a few seconds to be certain you do not unplug (and/or eject) while the copy is actually happening. Also, be certain you are not dragging the firmware into the Clip MUSIC folder. Just drag straight onto the clip disk icon.

Good luck!

When I put the Clip on lock, hold in the center button and attach its USB to my Mac, no icon appears on the desktop and the Mac freezes after a couple minutes. I have updated the firmware and set the Clip to MSC mode. Any suggestions?

Hey StonedJ -

I am somewhat confused by your question.

Since you state that you were able to update the firmware, then it seems at some point you were able to connect the Clip to your Mac as an external USB drive (with the disk icon showing on your desktop). Unless you updated the firmware using a PC? 

If you did update your firmware using your Mac, then perhaps the problem now is that you are trying to connect by putting the Clip on lock, and holding the center button. If you successfully updated your firmware with your Mac via the instructions in my post, then to connect your Clip as an external USB drive, you now just simply plug it into the USB port, without any need to put it into Lock, etc.

Let me know how it goes. If this does not solve your problem, I’ll give it some more thought. You might want to just email me directly by clicking my posting icon and then using the “Contact Me” window to “send this user a private message”.

I am using OSX 10.4.11 on a G4 with iTunes 7.6 and the music downloads are mostly mp4.  The clip is new and has been upgraded to the latest firmware.  Your script copied my playlist as mp4 and did not convert it to mp3.  I can see everything while on the computer (as mp4) but nothing shows in the playlist of the clip after unplugging.  It appears the Clip does not play mp4.  Any thoughts?

jimag2  -

You’ve brought my attention to something I did not consider when developing my script. And after some brief consideration I’ve decided it would not be practical to build in conversion functionality to my script. In other words, it would not be practical to have my script convert non-MP3 playlist tracks to MP3 when it discovers it needs to copy such a track. It would not be practical for two reasons (off the top of my head): 1) I’m not certain the iTunes conversion software would be available to me to add such functionality to my script, and 2) the script execution would be cumbersome if it tried to convert protected files while processing the playlist.

But what I plan to do now that you’ve brought this to my attention is:

  1. Update my Usage/Readme file to explicitly state the script will not do conversions

  2. Update my script to detect for non-MP3 and then alert the user that the track will not be copied, and hence not included in the converted playlist.

I hope to get to these revisions within the next four days (from Mar 31). I will post an update notice on this forum when they have been implemented. I may change my thinking on this once I have the time to investigate it more; I can certainly see why this (the script not doing conversions) may not be a very satsifying solution.

Any further feedback or comment is welcome. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

We have no DRM issues here (all legitimate downloads from iTunes).  My question is why are they not playable on the Sansa Clip?  They can be played without incident or conversion on an iPod shuffle/nano (did I purchase the wrong device?).


@jimag2 wrote:

We have no DRM issues here (all legitimate downloads from iTunes).  My question is why are they not playable on the Sansa Clip?  They can be played without incident or conversion on an iPod shuffle/nano (did I purchase the wrong device?).




Songs downloaded from itunes are protected with apple’s fairplay DRM. the clip is not compatible with fairplay DRM so you will not be able to play these files on your device. Additionally the DRM protection prevents you from converting the files to MP3 which is a DRM free file format. 


This thread is starting to veer off topic, but I feel the need to correct the last post, because it is not entirely accurate.

If you have protected files in your iTunes library, you can burn them to CD as MP3, then from that CD you can reload them into iTunes (or copy to a folder, etc.), thus allowing you to eventually load them onto the Clip.  This, of course will definitely result in a loss of sound quality, and wastes CD’s and time, but it is an option for dealing with your protected files.

Any further discussion on the topic of protected iTunes files, please respond directly to the poster, and not the thread.

Thank you. 

@kwanzan wrote:

This thread is starting to veer off topic, but I feel the need to correct the last post, because it is not entirely accurate.


I dont see how my post was “not entirely accurate”.


the question was:


" My question is why are they not playable on the Sansa Clip?  They can be played without incident or conversion on an iPod shuffle/nano (did I purchase the wrong device?)."


the fact is that if you have protected songs downloaded from itunes you can not simply convert them to mp3 within itunes. 


burning the track to cd then reripping the track will effectively strip the DRM from the track however these are additional steps and most likely frowned upon by Apple, SanDisk, and the RIAA. if the question had been “is there a work around for playing itunes music on my clip?” your answer would be correct.

It was not my intention to get off topic - only wanted to get my new Clip to work.  Thank you for all of your help.  The mp3 format works just fine.

Best regards 

jmag2 -

I have revised my script to address the issue you were having with the mp4 tracks in the playlist you were trying to export. Please read my post about the revision here:  


Or search for:  revision script itunes 

Can someone please help? Very unfamiliar with my new sansa clip. I have music loaded, but to play it says, “Synchronize to continue your music subscription”. Surely someone can help…Thanks, Foggydroz

It would appear you will want read this thread:


Good luck.

Thank you so much for your help - I can now take music from my itunes and put it on my sansa clip but how do I pull up the library (the music folder opens empty) on my sansa clip to play with itunes?

Help! I 'm a Mac user that just bought a clip after reading all the posts here and I am having trouble.  I updated my firmware, changed settings etc and am trying to just drop songs from itunes into my “music” folder but they’re not playing.  I see them show up on the clip, but the player won’t play them and just skips right to the songs the clip came with.  Since I wasn’t trying to export a whole playlist, I didn’t run the script.  Any ideas?  Thanks.

I can think of a few  possibilities:

  1. The “songs from itunes” correspond to files on your Mac that are not in the MP3 format. The Clip will only play MP3 format. If you use the Get Info in iTunes, the Summary will tell you the “kind” of file. It should be “MPEG audio file”.


  1. You were not careful about how you dropped songs. I generally will drag an entire folder (from my iTunes music folder) onto the Clip folder labeled MUSIC, but I just tried your method of dragging directly from the iTunes playlist to the Clip MUSIC folder, and it worked, i.e., the song showed under the artist and album on the Clip and then played.


  1. A very unlikely possibility is the latest firmware is not allowing Mac files to copy to the Clip for play. I am using a somewhat older version:   V01.01.20A 

Hopefully, it’s one of these. Otherwise, I’m puzzled, since the songs are appearing on the Clip. 

Thanks for your response.  I tried #2, dropping the whole album instead of individual songs, and that didn’t work.  I am hoping it isn’t #3.  I think I am doing something wrong in the conversion to MP3.  What is the right way to convert songs in iTunes, which are m4a?  Once I dropped the songs in the music folder, I was just changing the extension to mp3, which allowed the songs to appear on the clip but then they wouldn’t play, and would just skip to the preloaded music.   Thanks again for your help. 

The songs need to be converted to MP3 as you cannot just change the extension of the file.  If you are getting DRM free songs from iTunes, then you need to change the preferred file type within the preferences to MP3.