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best mp3 playersThere are some desktop applications that suck the nostalgia right out of our hearts. mIRC maybe? Off the top of my head: AOL Instant Messenger, Paint Shop Pro, BearShare, WS_FTP, ICQ, and RealPlayer. Most of these are considered to be dinosaurs by today’s standards. Another name that may ring bells is Winamp.

When you weren’t using Napster’s built-in capabilities, what were you using to listen to all of those MP3s you downloaded? My bet is either Windows Media Player or Winamp. It’s 2012 and I’m still using the same Winamp that was around way back then. Why get rid of a good thing? Consider this article to be my pitch to get you to go back to using one of the web’s simplest media players!

Winamp Lite is still my MP3 player of choice. But why?

The Interface

Take a look at the face of Winamp Lite and compare it to other media players you can think of.

best mp3 players

It’s so small and compact and achieves exactly what it needs to. The above screenshot shows all available “windows” of the interface aside from the equalizer (which I’ve never made much use of). Now, you and I both know why an all-around media player would need a more bold and busy interface. If you’re trying to watch a movie, perhaps VLC is a better choice. If you’re looking to load and listen to an MP3 playlist, how can it get any better than this?


The buttons across the bottom allow you to add tracks, load playlists, and more. Changing the volume, enabling shuffle and repeat, and basic controls like starting and pausing your music is obvious to any user from one of the tiniest little interfaces you’ll ever see.

Very Lightweight

Right now, I’ve got a playlist of 3,314 songs actively shuffling and Winamp is only eating at 10MB of memory.

mp3 players

To put that into perspective, my Task Manager process itself (used to find that info) is at 15MB. Firefox, with a few add-ons and around 10 tabs open, is well over 500MB. Winamp Lite should definitely be considered a preferable media player for those of you using netbooks!

Extensive Options

For an application that is so light and simple, Winamp Lite has a lot going for it underneath the hood.

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The above screenshot goes to show how customizable the application really is. You’re able to change how Winamp interacts with Windows Explorer, change how Winamp preloads ID3 information of your playlists, play with your playback preferences to tweak Winamp to optimal performance, and more.

mp3 players

Winamp also has an entire library of skins and plugins for you to check out, many of which work in the Lite version. Installing plugins is as simple as dragging and dropping files included in an archive into a folder in the Winamp directory. As the screen shows in the screenshot above, you’re able to customize them.

best mp3 players

One feature that I think every media player should have is hotkey support. Winamp Lite does it perfectly. Global hotkeys can interact with your keyboard or with a combination of modifiers and keys.

MP3 hoarders, what more are you looking for in a media player? Winamp Lite is clean, light on resources, and takes care of every technical aspect you’ll need to effectively control your listening experience. Let me know what you think of Winamp Lite in the comments. I know some of you still use it!

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  1. Ray
    February 17, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I have used Winamp for over a decade and with time the features have grown and some errors were made, particularly with the bloated version of Winamp 3.

    However, I am back using Winamp and can say that it is my favorite music player. I have read comments below about using VLC for music but I have to disagree here. VLC is excellent for handling video but near useless for music. Though it can play the music without a hitch, there are next to nothing in terms of playlist management and DSP plugins.

    VLC : excellent for video
    Winamp: the best choice for audio.

  2. Frank Zedmore
    December 10, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I stopped using iTunes in favor of winamp because I was only using it to sync my ipod up anyway

  3. Anonymous
    November 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    nice article... winamp.. it really whips the llamas _____ =)

  4. Anonymous
    November 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    nice article... winamp.. it really whips the llamas _____ =)

  5. Yudono Ra
    November 8, 2012 at 9:28 am

    i haven't played any music in winamp since a while, i tought the lite version has dissapear... so it still exist tough

  6. Anthony Monori
    November 5, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Oh, memories! I remember using it 3 or 4 years ago. Now I just stick to my iTunes and Spotify apps.

    • Boni Oloff
      November 6, 2012 at 8:17 am

      Yeah, if you have iDevice. You will stick to your itunes almost to do anything about music.

  7. Jan Fritsch
    November 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I understand and agree that there are other great alternatives even more light-weight. However, if you have ever used (and liked) WinAmp 3 or older you gotta love WinAmp Lite.

  8. Harshal Warkhede
    November 5, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Winamp is great!

  9. Eric Wilborn
    November 5, 2012 at 1:20 am

    Used to love Winamp... my favorite portion was the animations that you could customize.

  10. TKShadowplay
    November 4, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Have you tried 1by1? 175 KB!

  11. Félix S. De Jesús
    November 4, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    I used to play music with Winamp, but I was tired to have one program to play mp3 and mp4, and other to wma... so I still use Windows Media Player...

  12. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    November 4, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Have you tried Billy?
    It's much more lightweight and surprisingly fast in loading songs (700+ in a folder, under a minute)
    It doesn't have much feature, but the global hotkeys are real killer. Perfect if you just want to listen to your music and not doing some kind of management (I use different software for that)

  13. Anup Kumar
    November 4, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Winamp lite is a great app for the music lovers, however it has very limited customization features. Winamp has a wide range of skins, so you can update it. Its a reliable software and you can go for it.

  14. ThatGuy
    November 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Coolplayer is the lighhtest most useful player.
    Only 264k!!!

  15. Nikhil Chandak
    November 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    gonna download Winamp lite
    never knew about this
    thanks for telling me ..!!

  16. Ahmed Khalil
    November 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    winamp is the best for me, good sound quality, and a lot of facilities and options

  17. Igor Rizvi?
    November 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Trusty old winamp:)

    • juan david gil
      November 4, 2012 at 8:32 pm

      agree tho lacks love for linux

  18. vBm
    November 4, 2012 at 10:04 am

    That's not nearly lightweight as Boom for example :P

    If you like foobar2000 but think that's a bit too complex, try Boom.
    Both were created by same person, Peter ;)

  19. josemon maliakal
    November 4, 2012 at 9:49 am

    It was the great app, but after vlc it loss it's popularity ...

  20. Andreas Beer
    November 4, 2012 at 8:58 am

    I still use winamp (and paintshop pro). It is a real good music player, but be aware, that it is maintained by AOL music, which means, if somethings fucks up, it fucks up without recovery. the nullsoft-forums are full of rage, because when something is broken in winamp, there is no way to find out the causes or a real fix. they have thousands of workarounds for problems, most don't work in your specific case. the user experience is really a mess when it comes to troubleshooting. and the software won't upgrade nicely, so be sure to always make clean installs, even if that messes up your media library.
    oh, and don't think about it using it for massive collections, some features will break with more than 6000 songs, and no, deleting some of them won't fix it.

    but if you manage to find a setup that works nicely, you should never touch it and enjoy the many functions.

  21. Boni Oloff
    November 4, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Nice, Winamp always a good choice for many Windows user, but i still prefer Windows Media Player, since i dont need to install more app.

  22. Ivan K.
    November 4, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Winamp lite @ 10mb really? I have been using foobar2000 for ages and it does not come simpler or lighter than that.

    • Brandoom Clark
      November 4, 2012 at 8:32 am

      agreed, foobar2000 is a much better choice.

  23. Anonymous
    November 4, 2012 at 4:29 am

    I honestly never liked winamp with it's complex and ugly looking default interface. I just use vlc and nothing else.

  24. darkprop
    November 4, 2012 at 3:29 am

    i use AIMP

    • Dimas yudha
      November 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      Nice,me too. Love it

  25. holykow
    November 4, 2012 at 3:24 am

    i always thought winamp had the best audio quality compared to other players like vlc and wmp. but in my search for a do all media player ive come to really like jetaudio, it plays everything ive thrown at it, the video quality is brilliant, and the audio quality is on par with winamp.

    i use the pro "paid" version. it unlocks certain features that i fealt was worth it.

  26. Javier Vega
    November 4, 2012 at 2:37 am

    wow, i've had no need for an mp3 player so light yet, but saving memory for other tasks is a good idea, at my desktop i use MusicBee for a full manager on audio, but on my laptop i don't really need a full manager, i guess i'll try winamp lite, thanks for the article.