iHate iTunes

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Hate iTunes? Here are some alternatives
By Gordon Reeder
Download.com. Is part of Cnet and holds the best collection of freeware and shareware on the internet. If you ever thought to yourself: "Gee I wish there was a program that could..." Well, there probably is, and you can find it on Download.com. All the programs mentioned here can be found on Download.com and most are free.

So you got yourself an iPod. And now you RTFM and see that you can't use it unless you load this huge piece of bloatware called iTunes onto your computer. Well cheer up Bucky, things aren't so bad. Many have gone before you and have figured out how to set their iPods free from the clutches of iTunes, Apple, and the iTunes music store.

Special note for iPhone and iTouch users. Apple must really hate us for not using iTunes. Neither of these devices will work on a PC unless iTunes is first installed. Why? Because iTunes installs a special driver for the iPhone. Without this driver, Windows can't access all the features of the iPhone or iTouch. There are a few web sites that give instructions on how to add the driver manually. But i have not been able to verify that they work.

iPod Backup

Notice how iTunes won't let you copy songs from you iPod back onto your computer? Here is a list of several 3rd party iPod backup managers. These programs are small in size, run fast. They let you transfer songs from an iPod to your iPod library or computer. This is most often done to back songs up or transfer songs to a new computer. Some of these programs also will copy photos and videos. Some allow you to directly add files (music, video, photos) to iTunes or your iPod. Even if you end up using iTunes, you should keep one of these around.

iTunes Replacements

But I really hate iTunes so let's get rid of it entirely. It's not as hard as you think.

Winamp is my own favorite. It is a great media player in it's own right. In fact I was using it even before I got my iPod. With version 5 it added built in support for portable media players, including iPods. The iPod and it's support functions are found in the Media Library. The rich feature list includes support for both music and videos, the ability to directly add or delete songs and videos, or you can sync like iTunes or use the autoload function. You can also copy songs from iPod to computer.

ml_ipod is a plug in for Winamp that adds more powerful and specific iPod support. Winamp already has general iPod support for audio and video, but the ml_ipod plugin adds additional features, including support for photos and slide shows. It's functions are more powerful and offer more options. Some people think that makes it harder to use.

CopyTrans Manager is a program that adds songs and video to iPod & iPhone. The latest version of CopyTrans Manager now supports video. You can Drag songs from any folder to iPod and iPhone, Synchronize iPod instantly, Apply changes immediately or at any desired moment. Create new playlists on any iPod model, Rename existing playlists, Drag and organize songs into playlists. Listen to iPod music directly from any computer. Portable, No installation required. It can be installed right on the iPod (except iPhone & iPod Touch) allowing you take your iPod to any computer and work with it. Even computers that you aren't allowed to install software on (like at work). Unlike Winamp and Media Monkey, which are media managers, CopyTrans does not attempt to organize the media collection on your computer. It's built in media player is limited.
CopyTrans Photo Long time awarded for safe iPod to PC photo transfers and backups, CopyTrans Photo now does the job the other way round and much more! Add photos to iPod, iPhone & iPod Touch, manage albums and create new ones, enjoy slideshows from both iPod and PC photos.
Compatible with all iPod models: iPhone & iPod Touch (up to firmware 1.1.4), iPod Classic, iPod Nano, iPod Video & iPod Photo
Copytrans Manager is free, Copytrans Photo is $29.95

Media Monkey is second to none for managing your music collection. The feature list is huge and includes the ability to organize music and edit tags in your audio library with a powerful, intuitive interface, Automatically lookup and tag Album Art and other metadata, Play MP3s and other audio formats, and never again worry about varying volume, Record CDs and convert MP3s, M4A, OGG, FLAC and WMA files etc. into other formats, Create playlists and let Auto-DJ and Party Mode take care of your party, Sync iPhones, iPods, MP3 players, converting and leveling tracks on-the-fly. But it only supports music, no video or photo support.

iPod Manager is an easy to use tool to manage your iPod, it can copy files iPod to PC and vice versa, remove files from library, delete dead tracks, synchronize your iPod with your library, create new playlists delete files from library and hard disk. You can copy selected play lists to PC, copy selected tracks to PC, View track info, refresh the iPod contents, add file to library, add folder to library, delete selected play lists.

Double Twist Long on promises, but short on delivery. The program load is huge. It's worst than iTunes. The first thing that happens is that this program installs the .Net framework without telling you. Then it proceeds to load drivers for every conceivable portable device. OK, that's nice, I can see where they want to support everything, but to load all drivers at install time? Then the much ballyhooed support for pictures and slide shows is non-existent. And the social networking and media sharing features? Just a sendmail link to your e-mail program.

Songbird is trying to be the Firefox of media players. Add the iPod support plugin to manage your iPod. Songbird will work with Linux. So far, Songbird will only do music, not photos or video. There is no backup function. Songbird only works one way: Computer to iPod.

Froddle pod Copy music and videos directly to your iPod through an intuitive file browser interface. Copy music and videos from your iPod to your PC or other storage medium. Synchronize your iPod with a folder Backup everything on your iPod to another storage medium (eg. your hard drive). Restore a previous backup Delete media from your iPod Format your iPod (completing erasing it's contents). Includes a funtion to rip CDs to MP3's, ready to be transfered to your iPod. Convert wave files to MP3's ready to be transferred to your iPod. Music normalization. Makes audio the same volume to the human ear. Requires the .NET framework to be installed. Does not work with iPhone or touch.

Share pod Add and remove music, videos, playlists and artwork on your iPod. Backup all those tracks you just can't lose onto your computer. Import them automatically into your iTunes library. SharePod can run straight from the iPod itself, so you can use it at work, school, home - wherever you and your iPod are. Sharepod also requires the .NET framework to be installed. Supports the iPhone and iTouch.

Xplay is not an application. It loads at boot time and integrates your iPod with Windows and Windows Media Player, just drag and drop your music, playlists, videos, and photos directly onto your iPod. From quick tag and album art editing to easy creation and transfers of playlists, XPlay gives you complete control of music on your iPod. You can even transfer WMA files to your iPod. Does not fully support the iPhone or iTouch. Xplay is free to try, $29.95 to buy.

Floola is a nice program with a lot of promise. But seems to have a hard time keeping up with the latest changes to iTunes and iPod.

ephPod A program that started out with much promise, but got nowhere. Hasn't been updated in years.

Poddox Another program that started out with much promise, but got nowhere. Hasn't been updated in years.

More iTunes replacement options are discussed in this blog.

Copyright 2008, 2009, 2010 by Gordon Reeder