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For Mac users, iTunes is the undisputed king of media managment and playback. Every new computer comes with it pre-installed, and if you have an iPod, iPhone, or iPad, then you’ll need it for syncing media and backing up your device locally.

There are valid reasons to dislike iTunes though. The rise of Spotify and other similar services have made iTunes less useful or event obsolete Spotify Your Music Collection: The End Of iTunes Spotify Your Music Collection: The End Of iTunes Spotify is no longer content to just compete with radio, now they're competing with the idea of even owning music. Read More . Another big issue is the lack of ownership in digital media The End of Ownership: Netflix, Spotify, and The Streaming Generation The End of Ownership: Netflix, Spotify, and The Streaming Generation Read More . But perhaps most pressing of all is the fact that iTunes is bloated and slow.

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Yes, you can hack iTunes for better usability 8 iTunes Hacks For Improved Functionality 8 iTunes Hacks For Improved Functionality iTunes is a rich and feature-packed music management application, but that doesn't mean there's not room for improvement. Some simple changes and additional features can make the application even better. Read More but it’s not enough for everyone. Unless you’re absolutely tied to the iTunes ecosystem and have no choice but to use it, you may want to consider switching to one of these alternatives.

Tomahawk

If you want a modern cross-platform music player that’s feature-complete and smooth as cream, then Tomahawk may be the one for you. We mentioned it as one of the best music players for Linux 4 Linux Music Players That Deserve Your Attention Now 4 Linux Music Players That Deserve Your Attention Now Which Linux music player is the best? We compare four excellent music players you may not know about. Read More and that’s certainly true for OS X as well.

The real draw of Tomahawk is that it aims to be an all-in-one solution for all of the various music services available on the web. Why juggle half a dozen different apps and sites when you can consolidate all of them into Tomahawk Use Too Many Music Services? Consolidate Your Music With Open-Source Social Player Tomahawk [Cross-Platform] Use Too Many Music Services? Consolidate Your Music With Open-Source Social Player Tomahawk [Cross-Platform] Some users may wonder whether they should stick with music streaming services and ditch downloading songs to their local drives, or simply rely on the streaming options, because let’s face it, music streaming services are... Read More ? It’s just easier that way.

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Tomahawk supports plugins that let you “plug into” different media networks, including Spotify, YouTube, Google Play Music, Deezer, and even Amazon Music (which is actually better than we expected it to be Why You Should Give Amazon Prime Music a Second Chance Why You Should Give Amazon Prime Music a Second Chance There are several reasons why you might want to give Amazon Prime Music a second chance. It certainly deserves much more credit than it's currently getting. Read on to find out why. Read More ). Spotify support, for example, lets you sync playlists into Tomahawk.

If you’re going to use Tomahawk, we recommend going with the nightly release because it’s the most up-to-date and has the most cutting-edge features. The downside is that it may be prone to bugs and crashes. If you only need basic functionality, the stable release may be better.

Vox Player

A lot of Windows-to-Mac converts tend to ask about any good music players that are similar to Foobar2000. Unfortunately, at this time, no such alternative really exists. Vox Player is probably the closest we’ve got, but more so for its minimalist design than its resource usage.

Indeed, Vox Player can be quite greedy at times with CPU and RAM, sometimes even on par with iTunes! But it’s a nice alternative to try Stop iTunes From Taking Your Media Keys Hostage: Use Vox Instead Stop iTunes From Taking Your Media Keys Hostage: Use Vox Instead Stop iTunes from launching, and use your media keys with a program you don’t hate. Here’s how. Read More because it doesn’t have much feature bloat.

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Vox Player comes with all you’d expect in a music player and it’s fast. Not only does it support FLAC playback, but it can also play high-resolution audio files High-Resolution Audio: The Future of Music or a Scam? High-Resolution Audio: The Future of Music or a Scam? High-Resolution Audio is new and impressive, but does it live up to the hype and excitement? Is it a gimmick? Or even a scam? Read More if you’re into that. Music management is clean and straightforward, it has built-in internet radio, and you can also connect it to SoundCloud and Last.FM. There’s a lot to love about it.

One other feature to note: Vox comes with a 14-day trial of Loop, a cloud music storage service. With it, you can easily keep Vox for Mac in sync with Vox for iOS, and music you’ve stored in the cloud can be downloaded to either device for offline playback. Loop usage is optional.

Clementine

If you’re looking for a feature-packed but lightweight music player, then you really can’t go wrong with Clementine. This nifty application is all of the power that you need without any of the excess. It gets updated about once a year, which is nice as well.

Music management is probably Clementine’s top selling point. It comes with a cover manager, queue manager, playlist management tools, music format transcoder (with FLAC support), CD ripping tool, and an advanced tag editor for batch editing music files.

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Out of the box, Clementine can integrate with about a dozen different internet services, including cloud storage services (Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive, to name a few) and music streaming services (Spotify, SoundCloud, Last.FM, Subsonic, plus more).

It’s not the prettiest application, and it’s plainly obvious that it’s based on Qt4, something you’ll recognize if you’ve used Qt4 applications before. You can tweak the appearance a bit, but nothing major so you’re stuck with the clunky default interface. It’s not that bad, but it does leave a lot to be desired.

Nightingale

Do you remember Songbird? It was an open source music player released back in 2006 that drummed up a lot of hype and anticipation due to its potential. It was shut down in 2013, but by then users had already forked the code and created an alternative called Nightingale.

So if you were a fan of Songbird and want something similar, or if you want a lightweight open source music player that still gets updated, then you really ought to give this one a try. It will likely be everything you expect it to be.

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Key features include a skinnable interface, advanced library management, gapless playback, replay gain, built-in web browser, and extensions that can add even more features like integration with certain web services. It can also play DRM audio locked by Apple FairPlay and Windows Media.

The one big downside to Nightingale is that development has slowed down since 2014. Yes, it will still work just fine and the important functions are all there, but if you run into any bugs or if you’re looking forward to some other features, fixes will be a long time coming.

Quod Libet

Quod Libet has a funny name — it means “whatever you wish” in Latin — but don’t let that turn you away. This open source music player, which was designd to be cross platform from the get-go, was released back in 2004 and continues to receive regular updates to this day.

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Not many people have ever heard of it, which is a shame. It’s a simple piece of software and nothing about it will blow your mind, but it’s intensely practical and easy to use. The simplicity of it makes it the closest antithesis to iTunes currently available on OS X.

And it’s packed with features: supports for all kinds of media formats (including FLAC), smart replay gain, ratings-weighted random playback, Unicode tags, built-in Internet radio, configurable user interface, advanced library management, and so much more.

Which Music Player Do You Use?

I know there are lots of valid reasons to keep using iTunes. I don’t want to say it’s terrible and everyone should switch away, because it isn’t. I still use it to manage my podcasts, so I do realize that iTunes has a role to play even despite the bloat and what not. And if you’re using Apple Music, you have no chance but to use iTunes for playback on your Mac.

But if you deal with a lot of downloaded MP3s and streamed songs The Pros And Cons Of Streaming vs Downloading MP3s The Pros And Cons Of Streaming vs Downloading MP3s I've been a long-time user of streaming music services – from Pandora, to the now defunct online music locker Lala.com, and now as a monthly subscriber to Rdio.com. If you have a computer and a... Read More from lots of different locations, maybe one of these alternatives might actually play out better for you. It’s much more convenient than bookmarking several different internet radio sites Which Internet Radio Sites Have the Best User Experience in the Browser? Which Internet Radio Sites Have the Best User Experience in the Browser? Exploring the web players for various Internet radio services to see which ones offer the best experience in the browser. What good is a great radio selection if the player is frustrating to use? Read More , for example.

Which music player do you use on OS X and why? What’s wrong with iTunes? We’d love to hear from you in the comments down below!

  1. Rudy
    December 1, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    iTunes can't find album art works.
    What is different way to get it ?

  2. Leon
    November 24, 2016 at 6:42 am

    What players support ALAC? Can I simply drag=drop my files to the new player and GO?

    Latest iTunes is AWFUL and I can no longer even see bitrate of files and keep them apart. My 2 playlists have simply lost a couple albums. I have NO idea where they went. But I see them If I dig deep enough into that cumbersome interface.

    Shame on APPLE.

  3. Charlie
    October 28, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Over the past couple of days 10.20.16 to last night I have imported 91. As of a few minutes ago songs 14 thru 91 are gone. What's happening? I also keep podcasts and movies in iTunes. Are the any alternatives that will handle everything?
    Thanks

  4. Perterken
    October 7, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    If iTunes does not meet your needs, here UFUShare show you the best alternatives to iTunes. Apple's software is often criticized because of its difficulty of use, lack of some interesting functions, or the time it takes to perform the actions that are requested. It is by this that in this article UFUShare bring you the top 3 best alternatives to iTunes , so you can choose the best program according to the needs and how you use it.

  5. Allen
    September 27, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    I've just about given up on iTunes. I'm on a 12-hour Zurich-to-Los Angeles flight, and I can't play any of my music on my iPad now, and very little on my iPhone. The problem with the iPad (probably) is that I haven't started up iTunes since being FORCED by Apple to move up to the current IOS. (Or lose all my passwords in the chain.) Then I didn't start iTunes while connected to the Internet so that Apple could "authenticate" my ownership of the music. Mind you, this for about 1600 songs ripped from my own CDs, and 400 or so purchased from Apple. Who knows what the problem is on the iPhone. I did think to play a few bars of one of my songs while connected. But now my playlists seem to ONLY have the purchased songs available. The songs ripped from my CDs are not there! Enough!!!

    • Joel Lee
      September 29, 2016 at 1:47 am

      Yikes, that sounds frustrating. Sorry to hear, Allen! So if you've given up on iTunes, which alternative have you switched to? Or have you switched at all?

  6. Daniel Astudillo
    August 26, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Hi Denis! First of all, thanks a lot, for the time, dedication and for sharing all this info with the world.

    Dennis I'm a music lover and for me to keep my music perfectly organized is a question of need and passion. I have a big amount of files (36.162 items and growing) stored in an external 500 Gb HD. I'm using the last versions of the Mac OS system and iTunes; El Capitan 10.11.6 and iTunes 12.4.3.1.

    My problem is iTunes is giving me constant errors when importimg new albums to my library. An example of this is: albums separated in two, without any apparent reason. I am very careful when I edit the data of each album in the info window. I like to have all the information for each one of them, and the error factor when I do this is basically zero. I try to fix this by selecting all the tracks and editing the information of all of them together but it keep showing the albums separated; even when if you go to the HD and check out the location of the files in the iTunes media folder they are all in one folder organized by artist as you could expected. Another example is: tracks duplicated and separated from its original album. One more time, only in the iTunes window, not in the iTunes media folder where they are perfectly stored.

    This is driving crazy man... lol
    I will appreciate deeply any help or advice that you could give me.
    And one more time thanks a lots.

    Greetings

    Daniel.

    • swirlibra
      August 31, 2016 at 12:53 am

      Album Artist field needs to be One name

    • telabs
      September 13, 2016 at 3:04 am

      When you import tracks, drag them into a playlist and work from there instead of tracking stuff down in the main library. All the tracks will be in one place and easily editable.

  7. Jacques R. Adelee
    July 25, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Dennis Thank you for your help. Yet as a novice how do I get into the metadata editor? Thanks in anticipation

  8. Nate
    July 14, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Have all of my music on Google Drive. Tomahawk does not support Google Drive. Neither does Vox, Nightingale or Quod Libet. Clementine DOES, but cannot read WAV, AIFF or M4A files, which is all I have, and will require me to reconvert everything to FLAC. Which I could do, but CloudConvert on Google Chrome has a very limited free option and I have a lot of music.

    Thoughts?

    • Rik
      September 17, 2016 at 7:08 pm

      i would love to know the answer to that question if you have found the solution yet please?

  9. Moutonoirx
    July 13, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    How about Sonora ? it's still working, u can get on github :)

  10. nate B
    July 7, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    There's no mention of the awfulness of the Vox app. Why is that? Requiring users to sign up for the Loop service in order to use Vox prevents even the least evaluation of that software. And then it makes it seem like you have to pay for Loop for 24 months at $9.99 to use it. What's sketchy about all this is that there's no documentation of these things on the Vox site. You learn about it only after download and running the program.

    That Vox requires you to upload music is bad in so many ways. It's bandwidth hogging and by default would delete music on a Mac on upload. Vox could wipe out your local library if you do what it asks of you at installation.

    • Doug Chance
      September 11, 2016 at 9:32 pm

      Perhaps they have changed the install since your comment, but I was able to install and use Vox without signing up for Loop. It's not super-obvious, but on the stage of the install process where it asks you to register for Loop, there is a "Skip" button. I clicked this and got Vox installed and running without any interaction with Loop.

      So far Vox seems decent enough, though you should be aware that Vox does not have it's own music library, so if you don't use Loop, Vox will be working with your iTunes library.

  11. Barry Radun
    July 4, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    I have an extensive music collection (over 150Gb, so far) and I've been using iTunes for a long time. I do not download any music from the iTunes store. My music is copied from my CD collection. The problem is that iTunes only seems to store my music on my computer. I have everything copied to an external hard drive and would rather use that for storage and playback, rather than sacrifice space on my computer's hard drive. Any solutions out there?

    • Dennis
      July 12, 2016 at 4:05 am

      The easy thing you can do is go into the iTunes preferences and then to the advanced tab. From there you can select where you want the iTunes library to be. This is the location where it'll store any info about your library and the album artwork. If you uncheck "Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library" it will just link to the files where they were original located before you added them, i.e. your external drive.
      If you like the way that iTunes organizes your files you can always switch the location of your library to your external and then when you add files it will just add them there. I hope this helps. If you just want to start fresh with a new library hold down option while you click on the dock icon to open the app and a dialogue will open allowing you to start a new library wherever you like.
      As someone with a nearly 2TB music collection I understand the need to run it off of an external source.

  12. Jacques R. Adelee
    June 11, 2016 at 7:33 am

    What I hate most about itunes is its lack of filing. I may be dumb or simplistic but no one including Apple has been able to explain how to file my music by Artist - period. Whenever you have an album of duets, tribute to, or again a cd of Grammy Award Nominees they are all over your library. If there is a reason for that or a work around I'm all ears.

    • Dennis
      July 12, 2016 at 4:11 am

      Yeah theres an easy fix. Select all the songs on an album and then right click and select get info. Then in the metadata editor where it says album artist Type in the main artist. This will group all the tracks together under a single artist while still keeping the original artist intact. i.e. Artist feat Other Person.

      • Bruce
        July 19, 2016 at 5:30 am

        Or click on the Compilation checkbox to have it filed as an Album instead of By Artist.

        • Dennis Kelly
          July 20, 2016 at 11:22 pm

          Only problem with doing it that way is that it places the files in a separate "Compilations" folder, and in your library puts the album down at the bottom under the compilations section rather than just the main artist.

  13. Chip
    June 10, 2016 at 6:08 am

    I use all Apple devices, but am so aggravated with iTunes messing up my music with its many flaws. Either my Last Date Played or Play Count gets messed up, or songs go missing or Apple released yet another iTunes update that messes everything up. I am looking at Tomahawk right now.

    • Dennis
      July 12, 2016 at 4:09 am

      Yeah theres an easy fix. Select all the songs on an album and then right click and select get info. Then in the metadata editor where it says album artist Type in the main artist. This will group all the tracks together under a single artist while still keeping the original artist intact. i.e. Artist feat Other Person.

      • Dennis Kelly
        July 12, 2016 at 4:12 am

        Sorry hit the wrong reply button.

  14. Scooby Doo
    June 9, 2016 at 4:15 am

    How does one get the amazon plugin? I don't see any info whatsoever on their website or in the app.

  15. Andrés
    May 25, 2016 at 9:06 am

    For me, personally, the best feature of Clementine is that it allows you to manage your library the way YOU want, based on its almos unique (at least for mac apps) folder-based option. I hate it when you have to follow the criteria programs impose on you... I don't always want to see my music organized by album or artist or whatever, but prefer to organize it myself into folders. This also allows me to keep files that don't always come with all the meta info software would need to label it properly. It's a shame Clementine is so ugly, but hell does it give you back some degree of controll over your own files. This is a feature I always missed since I totally migrated to mac, and that was present in the normally so-maligned Windows Media Player in its newer iterations.

    • Joel Lee
      June 1, 2016 at 11:26 pm

      Very good point regarding organization, Andres! I have a hard time getting over Clementine's aesthetics, but you're absolutely right that it packs a punch with what it offers.

  16. zeira
    May 14, 2016 at 2:56 am

    There is a saying, something like: if ain’t broken don’t try to fix it.
    That, and having two computers, both Apple, an iMac and a MacBook Pro makes sense to keep iTunes and not to try something else.

    • Joel Lee
      May 23, 2016 at 3:41 am

      Absolutely, zeira! If iTunes works for you, keep using it. To be honest, I still use iTunes but only for my podcast management. :)

  17. George Klein
    May 10, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    I am not ready to switch from iTunes to any other music player.
    It has many more advantages than disadvantages especially for a Mac user.

    • Joel Lee
      May 13, 2016 at 11:47 pm

      Are you deeply entrenched in the iTunes ecosystem? I suppose that's a good reason to stick with it then. I know I hate switching ecosystems (whether for music or whatever else).

  18. Dre Hos
    May 10, 2016 at 2:57 am

    I use Vox, but I will be taking a look at Clementine.

    • Joel Lee
      May 13, 2016 at 11:47 pm

      Cool! Have you tried it yet? Would love to hear your thoughts between the two, if you don't mind, Dre. :)

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