Whether for playing music on your computer or keeping your music library synchronized with your iPhone & iPad, iTunes is quite not a satisfying application, despite being developed by Apple.
Although iTunes’ interface looks gorgeous, it’s bloated and not friendly for users to do even the simplest task, such as transferring music to their iPhone. The first time I used this application, I had to Google for something like “How to put music on iPhone using iTunes”, then battled with it.
Fortunately, there are now plenty of alternatives to iTunes for you to choose from. They work on multiple platforms such as Windows, macOS, and Linux. Furthermore, these applications are mostly free to use. Some even offer more advanced features.
We’ve done all the hard work by sifting through dozens of applications available on the market to compile this post. Now it’s your turn, keep reading and find the one that meets your needs.
MediaMonkey is our first favorite pick. It has the ability to handle even the largest music libraries and is one of the only music players that let you sync music to your iPhone or iPad. At the time of this writing, it’s only available for Windows. macOS and Linux users will need to use an application like Parallels or Wine to be able to run it.
The program’s interface is not as polished as iTunes or other programs in the list, but it’s arguably the best tool for managing complex media libraries. The first time you launch the application, it will scan your computer for audio and video files. MediaMonkey supports an impressive range of files, from the common standards to the audiophile’s favorite lossless format FLAC.
Once your files are added, MediaMonkey will start organizing the library using the intelligent automatic organizer. If your collection is a mess of files that have unknown, missing, or inconsistent metadata, MediaMonkey is very capable of resolving such issues.
It can tag files automatically, download album art, and even find extras like song lyrics. It also flags files that are duplicates so you easily clean up your media collection. MediaMonkey doesn’t outrank other candidates in terms of organizing normal-sized libraries, but if your library is huge, you’ll see how it excels.
The default interface is functional with a layout similar to iTunes. It contains simple lists of tracks, genres, artists and albums in the center, media sources on the left, and playlist details on the right. The entire interface can be customized and re-skinned to suit your preferences as well.
You can move around elements and position them the way you want. MediaMonkey also has a skinning community where you can download and install skins submitted by other users. However, it’s now not active as it once was. Not only does it allow you to customize the visualizations and adjust the settings to your liking, you can also install various free add-ons to extend the program functionality.
In terms of working with mobile devices, MediaMonkey is an extraordinary media management software as it also lets you sync your music to your iPhone and iPad. This feature alone makes it a perfect iTunes substitute. The application utilizes iTunes’ drivers to connect with iOS devices, so you still need iTunes installed on your computer.
MediaMonkey also has a Gold version ($25 for the current version license and $50 for a lifetime license) that provides with more advanced features like AutoPlaylists, automatic library organizer and on-the-fly audio conversion for sync. You can check the list of full features packed in the Gold version here.
- Fully customizable
- Supports wide range of file formats
- Powerful organizer for huge media libraries
- Syncs music to iOS devices
- The free version provides functionality enough for most users.
- Designed for power users
- Only available for Windows
[ See also: How to Put Music on iPhone without iTunes ]
MusicBee – The comprehensive audio player
MusicBee is the perfect iTunes replacement for Windows users when it comes to organizing and playing music. The app has a beautiful easy-to-use interface and also packs a handful of advanced features. MusicBee is available with three editions for you to install, including the Installer, Portable, and Windows Store editions.
The application does a great job of organizing and managing your music collection – no matter how huge and sprawling. It allows you to import tracks and artwork from iTunes, Windows Media Player, and scan for existing music located in specific folders on your computers.
Once you’ve finished adding songs, its powerful tagging system will help you complete missing metadata, locate album art, find lyrics, and get them all organized. If you notice albums or tracks are not filed correctly, you can right-click on one or multiple of them, select the tagging option and edit manually. MusicBee also enables you to convert audio files to several file formats. If you’d like to encode them in a format suitable for other devices, then no need to install another software.
In terms of looks, the app’s interface is familiar to iTunes, but it’s highly customizable so that you can move panes around and make them look good to your liking. You can change the appearance of MusicBee significantly through the use of skins, which are included in the software or can be downloaded from the MusicBee add-on section. Even better, MusicBee also supports some WinAmp plugins, so you can keep using the features you’ve come to rely on.
The only drawback of this application is that it doesn’t let you sync music to your iOS devices. It would be our very first pick for the best iTunes alternative if this essential feature had been integrated. However, you can still easily transfer music to Android, Windows Phone (8.1+), or other non-iOS devices.
Other notable features include the 10-band or 15-band Equalizer and DSP effect, WASAPI and ASIO support for high-end audio cards, Groove Music and last.fm support, and CD Ripping. If you open the player preferences, there is even more to explore and configure.
Many other media players out there tackle both video and audio, but MusicBee is peculiar. It focuses on being the best free music programs you can get your hands on.
- Imports music libraries from iTunes, Windows Media Player
- Highly customizable interface with custom skins and adaptable panes
- Manipulates your music library effortlessly
- Light and fast
- Only available for Windows
- Doesn’t support transferring music to iOS devices yet
- Takes some time to get used to its feature-richness
[ See also: Best Free Music Apps for iPhone & iPad ]
Foobar2000 is a free music player that is extremely configurable and powerful. MusicBee and MediaMonkey, the two aforementioned applications do allow you to tweak the media player the way you want, but foobar2000 is even much more customizable.
At first glance, its default look may put you off as it looks like a blast from the past. But don’t let it fool you, behind the extremely basic system-colors-based interface, there are many hidden powerful features and nearly infinite customizability.
The Theme editor allows you to select an interface element and drag it to your desired location. You can also open the preferences menu and play with the options here. You can change virtually anything from the items that appear in a context menu to the font used in the layout. Tons of screenshots of foobar2000 setup have been shared on the internet, thanks to customizability this software offers.
In terms of functionality, it specializes in media management, keeping track of new music and updating the library, ripping and converting CDs; and supports a particular feature called ReplayGain. This feature analyzes the music in your library and determines the volume and changes the volume automatically and appropriately in the background.
Apart from that, the Foobar2000 website provides you with a plethora of plug-ins and extensions that can extend the player with more exclusive features. For example, mobile synchronization is not included in Foobar by default. But by installing an extension named iPod Manager, you’ll be able to sync your music with your iPod, iPhone without the need for other pieces of software.
If you’re a power user and willing to put in the effort, I’m almost positive that Foobar will provide you with a great music listening experience.
- Flexible interface
- Can be extended with plug-ins and extensions
- The ReplayGain feature adjusts volume automatically
- New users can get confusing with the modular design
- The default look is unappealing
[ See also: Best iPhone music players on the App Store ]
If you’re not happy with the iTunes’ device management function, then WinX MediaTrans is one of the good alternatives available. The software promises a faster, more intuitive and more convenient way to manage music, podcasts, ebooks, videos, and photos on iOS devices.
Since WinX MediaTrans only focuses on syncing media files between your computer and iOS devices, it vacuums up all the extraneous fluff to create a lean and clear interface. From the main window, you’ll find separate intuitive options to get you need done without any hassles.
Transferring music, videos, ringtones, books… to your iPhone or iPad is straightforward and simple. Just select the option according to your task, then drag & drop files onto the window, and hit “Sync”. It’s like copying files between two folders on your computer.
Winx MediaTrans’s Music Manager lets you organizing iPhone music files and playlists painlessly. You can create, modify, delete or rebuild the entire playlist. It also automatically converts imported music to MP3 or ACC format.
iTunes won’t let you copy your iPhone’s music to PC, but not in the case of Winx MediaTrans. The application let you control music from iDevice to PC or on reverse, transfer files freely. You can also make ringtones directly from the songs listed on your device with a click.
Like the Music Manager tool, the Video Transfer tool lets you convert videos on-the-fly while transferring it to your iPhone and iPad. You can convert from MKV, AVI, AVCHD formats to supported MP4 format. It also automatically rotates vertical videos to horizontal videos for smooth playback.
Another cool feature of this software is the Flash Drive option. With this option, you can turn your iPhone into a flash drive, which you can use to store many file types, then export/import them to your computer. The only downside is that iPhone doesn’t have any apps for managing all of the files but each app contains files within its local storage. So it’s impossible to view these files on your iPhone.
WinX MediaTrans is a great tool to deal with media files more comfortable. It has two version: Free Trial and Full Version. You can download the free trial to your computer and test the program by yourself. It lets you experience all the features but put a limitation on how many items you can transfer every day.
- Intuitive easy-to-use interface
- Syncs media files without having iTunes installed
- Built-in media converter and ringtone maker
- Only available for Windows, macOS users can try MacX MediaTrans with similar features.
- Limited to import/export a certain amount of iOS files each day
PhoneTrans is a free software from iMobie and like Winx MediaTrans, its aim is to make it easy to copy music between your computer and iPhone, iPad or iPod. PhoneTrans does not try to replicate all of the features of iTunes but focuses on iOS device management, hence, the interface is so simple and straightforward.
The software gives you full control over transferring music, ringtones, videos, books, TV shows, and even apps & games. Without jailbreaking, PhoneTrans helps you backup apps with or without data & documents, as well as transfer backup data to a new iPhone. It doesn’t allow you to take a full backup of your device, but if you want to backup your iTunes library or certain apps’ data, then PhoneTrans is an iTunes replacement worth checking out.
iMobie claims that PhoneTrans is a free software and it will always be free. You might also want to take a look at PhoneTrans Pro ($30) or AnyTrans ($40), two premium applications for phone management by this company. They offer advanced features, greater flexibility, free lifetime update and customer support.
- Two-way transfer
- Free for Lifetime
- Copying music is just a matter of drag-n-drop
- Sometimes unknown bugs occur while transferring data
There are more applications we haven’t covered that can be a great iTunes alternative: AIMP, Clementine, Winamp, and VLC. You can spend some time checking out these applications if the above options don’t suit your needs.
What’s your favorite program? Let us know in the comment section below.