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Reluctantly, I use iTunes as I have an Apple phone and I want to keep it synchronized with my PC. As with most electronic devices that sync with your PC, you are stuck using the proprietary software needed to communicate with the device. iTunes isn’t all that bad, but I set out looking for good alternative to iTunes and here is what I found.

In this guide, I look at seven iTunes alternatives and compare them side by side to give you an option to use them as an alternative to iTunes.

Seven iTunes Alternatives

The seven programs I picked:

  • Foobar 2000
  • doubleTwist
  • Froddle Pod
  • Songbird
  • YamiPod
  • Winamp
  • Media Monkey

Each of these programs performs different tasks with different objectives; however, I chose these for a couple of reasons: they can communicate with Apple hardware (read: sync) and can play music, as a media player, on my PC. To expand the perspective from my needs to a more general iTunes replacement, I’ve broken key requirements into four categories:

  1. OS Compatibility
  2. Media Formats
  3. Device Sync
  4. Key Features

The remainder of this guide will compare these programs, side by side, in these categories.

Compatibility

Even though this is a Windows site, I’ve listed compatibility with Windows XP, Vista, 7, Mac OS X, and Linux.

itunes alternatives01 Seven iTunes Alternatives You Should Consider Using

All seven programs work with Windows XP, Vista, and 7 (Froddle Pod’s homepage does not list Windows 7 compatibility but I got it to work.)

Songbird’s support for Linux is now dropped, leaving YamiPod as the only option for Linux without the use of WINE.

Key Features

I really don’t use iTunes for much more than playing music, syncing my phone, and purchases (which can be done via 3G/Wifi through the App Store and iTunes apps.) Here are some of the more commonly-used features of iTunes:

  • Album art
  • Media tagging
  • CD ripping
  • Podcasts
  • Playlists

And here’s how the alternatives stack up with these features:

itunes alternatives04 Seven iTunes Alternatives You Should Consider Using

Media Monkey wins by a mile here as it packs all these features and many more (even more if you purchase Media Monkey Gold.)

Media Formats

iTunes plays most types of media and if it’s to be replaced, so should the replacement. Here’s a breakdown of media playback compatibility of the seven programs:

itunes alternatives02 Seven iTunes Alternatives You Should Consider Using

Songbird has the biggest base of audio playback support and is the clear choice if your library contains all file types. Froddle Pod states it “play[s] audio and video formats supported by the iPod (except Quicktime format)”, which I’ve taken to mean at least MP3 and AAC (dependant upon your iPod.)

Device Sync

The most prominent feature keeping me “tied” to iTunes is being able to sync my phone. To sync to your Apple device, you need specific hardware drivers, which come bundled with iTunes. If you don’t want iTunes on your PC (that’s the whole point of this guide right?), then you can do the following:

  1. Download iTunes.
  2. Rename your downloaded iTunes.exe to iTunes.zip.
  3. Open up the zipped file and extract QuickTime.msi and AppleMobileDeviceSupport.msi.
  4. Install both programs.

Without having all the devices to hand to test for compatibility, I relied on information given by the publishers of the seven programs listed. Thus, this list is as accurate as the information on the product pages.

itunes alternatives03 Seven iTunes Alternatives You Should Consider Using

Foobar works with most devices (but not all firmware) and compatibility list is available here.

Songbird has officially dropped iPod support.

Winamp will work with the iPod Plugin.
Media Monkey and doubleTwist sync other devices like Android phones, Creative’s Zen player etc.

Final Thoughts

I can’t recommend one program over another as it all depends on the needs you have when looking for a replacement. I think I’ll still use iTunes (even after really enjoying these programs) as my wife also syncs her phone with our family PC and we have iTunes sharing our libraries throughout the house.

Although none of these programs proved victorious for me, I hope you find one you like. Which programs did I miss? Do you think you’ll stop using iTunes in favor of one of these programs?

Download

Here are the current download links for all seven programs.



 Seven iTunes Alternatives You Should Consider Using

About Rich

Rich is the owner and creator of Windows Guides; he spends his time breaking things on his PC so he can write how-to guides to fix the problems he creates.

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Comments

  • AvataroftheSun

    I'm a MediaMonkey user. One of the things I really like about it is that, when it adds tracks to the library, you can opt to use picture files from the song's folder as the album art (this works really well for me since all my music files have no embedded art and each folder has a “.folder.jpg” file to act as the art for each track in that folder).
    On that note, for actually playing music, I'd have to say my favorite is Quod Libet (originally a Linux-only app, but they've since ported it to Windows, and that version still works really well). Although it can't sync with devices (strictly a player), it's very fast and lightweight while still able to manage a massive music library.

  • Reza888itp

    Great respect for all
    I want to store my iPhone all contacts, notes, SMS in TXT/XLS format on hard disk. Any body help me regarding any software. I am working on both OS Windows7 and OS X. waiting for reply……………………………

  • Mike

    Another positive for DoubleTwist is the ability to sync to Android as well, along with podcasts and everything. Just in case you're thinking about switching to a phone that can make phone calls too…

  • JustinzGuyzWorld

    ITunes is still by far the best. It is compatible with Mac, Linux, and Windows(best to least best operating systems) .

  • jumper918

    I found that ITunes lagged, and all the background processes slowed it down even more. Just my thoughts

  • Harry

    I use Songbird, as my iPod died on me (and it cost a lot, so I don't feel that I should buy another).

    I have got a big enough memory card on my Android phone to use that as a music player, and it works really well (better than any iPod or iPhone to be honest!), and also have Spotify in case I run out of space. Problem solved!

    I don't even understand why the iPods are still so popular. Sony's Walkman series have a lot more features, and produce proper sound!

  • Firstfloorman

    Being a windows user, Im probably somewhat jaded in my response but I just can't agree that iTunes is a superior anything other than consumer of memory and hard drive space. The database iTunes uses for its Album metadata is seriously lacking unless your ripping music created in the last five years or so. Try ripping AC/DC's Back in Black. Arguable one of the most recognizable Albums in the last 20 years but iTunes can't seem to figure out what it is. Windows Media Player series has iTunes beat in every way except for the ability to synch anything Apple MediaMonkey takes over from there.


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