I vaguely remember trying Songbird years ago and soon gave up due to it being hopelessly slow and buggy, but considering it’s still only in alpha (0.6.2) I can understand.
After reading Mark’s article I was motivated to try it out again.
I discovered huge improvements and while there are still performance issues, its acceptable and usable and has a great default theme. Music libraries of 10,000 songs are now comfortably supported and development moves every bit closer to beta.
I like keeping my music organised and easy to navigate though, so up to now I have mainly been using Windows Media Player as my software of choice and Media Monkey for occasional song tagging. I know, I know”¦ so Media Player sucks etc, etc, but I’ve always liked it and have kept using it over the years.
The best thing about Songbird is the community contributions, just like Firefox. A small but growing number of extensions and ‘feathers’ are available for download and provide many of the media player’s best features.
With iTunes rapidly becoming the dominant online music store, software like Songbird will become increasingly important to other music stores like Amazon and eMusic as it isn’t tied to just one store.
Here are what I think are a few of the best extensions currently available.
1. Details Pane
A great details sidebar which runs alongside the main interface and provides all the metadata associated with the song. Useful for displaying lyrics and other details typically missed by most media interfaces.
2. Minimise to Tray
One thing I like about Windows Media Player is the mini toolbar player which sits on the task bar. With Songbird you can instead use this add-on to minimise to the system tray like Media Monkey does. It clears up the task bar and still gives easy access to music playing functions.
Yes, Songbird does have a mini player mode already, But I find it annoying as it just sits on top of all your windows. It would be okay if it wasn’t so large.
3. Metrics Media
This is one of my favourite ones, a graphical representation of your music collection. Includes details like hard drive space, information on artists, genres and albums and the total number of tracks in the library, play length etc.
4. Album Art Manager
You can download and add album art through this extension which provides a separate interface to manage your music from. You can add more services to search and fetch art later on.
5. Media Flow
As Mark mentions in his review, Songbird has been created with a focus on competing with iTunes, and so takes many of the better iTune features and improves them or adds alternatives.
Media Flow replicates Cover Flow, and while I’ve never found it particularly useful myself, a lot of people seem to have. So if this is something you like about iTunes then here is how you can also get it in SongBird.
6. AdBlock Plus!
Yes, because Songbird is a web browser as well as Music Player I recommend you use Adblock. Music Sites are pretty bad for banner ads and popups so this will make your life a whole lot easier. One thing to note however, you cannot manually block ads as Songbird doesn’t have the Adblock context menu you may be used to in Firefox.
7. Now Playing List
I’ve actually got no idea as to why Songbird doesn’t have a Playlist bar as a default feature, not that it matters because it’s simple to use this add-on to achieve the same thing. It sits to the right of your screen and you can drag and drop songs on to create playlists or just listen to in a specific order.
8. Directory Browser
I find this one particularly useful as well. Directory browser means instead of navigating your library, you can have the actual folder in the sidebar and browse from there. I often find myself using Explorer when I’m fixing up my music, so having this kind of feature within the media player itself is great.
So if you like the look of any of these then maybe you should consider giving SongBird a try? If you already use it then I’d like to hear what your favourite extensions are. You might also wants to check out our recent poll on free music players.
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