Many iOS users don’t like iTunes, especially who are running Windows on their computers. And the major reason for this is that the process of transferring music via iTunes makes these folks feel like they are wrestling with iTunes to put music on their iPhone.
With Android devices, we can easily transfer any files just by dragging and dropping, like copy files between folders. But with iOS, we usually need to rely on iTunes to keep music collections synchronized. It seems iTunes’s interface is not very friendly, and it actually confuses even the savviest of users.
Luckily, using iTunes is not the only way to download music to your iPhone. In fact, there are several alternative options to choose from, and most of them are completely free. If you’re among people who are tired of iTunes, read on to see how you can sever ties with this bloated application.
Option 1: Cloud Services
Cloud Storage Services are popular these days. I’ll show you the best services to upload your music collections and play on your iPhone, both online and offline.
OneDrive and Groove
This combination of OneDrive and Groove is perfect for those who have a Windows PC and want to sync music to their iPhone/iPad. Microsoft OneDrive offers 15GB of free storage for beginners and I believe this capacity is more than enough for most of us to store music. The Groove streaming app is the exclusive music player to play music collections from OneDrive and can even make them available offline.
To put music on your iPhone, just load your favorite songs into OneDrive on your PC or Mac, then open the Groove app on your iPhone and wait for synchronizing. You can either go to OneDrive’s website or download and install the OneDrive application on your computer.
I prefer to use the OneDrive app on my PC as it’s very well integrated with the folder management system of Windows. The app will create a local OneDrive folder on my computer and keep it synchronized. Syncing music between my devices now is simple as copying files between folders. Of course, it works perfectly as long as both devices are connected to the Internet.
The Groove app comes with a black interface that reminds me of the days I had used Windows phone. It has all the essential features of a music player. Once you’ve added songs to OneDrive from your PC, you’ll see the songs in the Groove app almost instantly. The best part is you can also download and save your songs offline by tapping and holding each song and choosing “Make available offline”.
Dropbox is one of the most popular and reliable cloud storage services. If you’ve been using Dropbox, you can use it to store your music collection onto as well. Like OneDrive, you can install Dropbox app on both of your devices to make syncing music between them easier. The free version comes with only 2GB of storage, but there are ways to increase that amount.
Although you’re able to minimize the app in the background and still hear playback or save music offline, the built-in media player of Dropbox is not designed to be a fully-featured media player. You can’t create your favorite playlists or play songs continuously. The solution is to install an additional cloud music player on your iPhone. Musicloud is a free and good app like that. The app will scan your Dropbox account for music files then ask you what you want to import locally.
Google Play Music
Google Play Music is a cloud-based music streaming app and it offers two listening plans: Free and Unlimited. Its Free plan allows you to upload up to 50,000 of your own songs from the desktop for free. If you’ve been using Google Chrome, you can upload tracks directly through the browser. If not, you’ll need to download Google’s Music Manager software.
From the app on your iOS device, you can listen to your uploaded music, and even stream Google’s entire music library, which contains more than 40 million songs. Google Play Music, with its music locker and YouTube and YouTube Red integration, is totally worth considering when it comes to streaming music services.
Option 2: Local Media Players
Some apps will let you transfer music from your computer to your iOS device wirelessly via Wi-Fi connection. Although your files are not saved to the core library, you can still listen to your favorite songs offline since these apps take advantage of its own storage.
VLC for iOS
VLC is a hugely popular free media player and also available in the App Store for iOS devices. The app has a few standout features and one of them is Wi-Fi file transfer.
To be able to use this feature, your PC and iPhone need to connect to the same Wi-Fi network. Under VLC app’s menu, you’ll find an option named “Sharing via Wi-Fi”. Simply toggle on it to activate the feature.
Once you’ve turned it on, the app will show you two URLs right beneath the “Sharing via Wi-Fi” option. One looks something like http://192.168.x.x and one is http://iPhone.local. Now launch the web browser on your computer and go to either of the URLs shown above.
Make sure your computer is on the same network as your iOS device. Once the web page is loaded, you’re able to transfer music or videos from your PC to the VLC app just by dragging and dropping files between windows. Or you can simply click on the “+” button to use the file picker dialog. Your music will show up in the VLC app after transferring successfully.
Documents works the same way as the VLC media player in terms of transferring music from computer to your iPhone. The clear interface and the ability to make a playlist of music files automatically are what I love about this app. It’s also free to install from the App Store.
After installing the app, tap the gear button in the top-left corner to access Documents’ settings. Now select Wi-Fi Drive and turn on this feature. The next steps are similar to the process of sending files to the VLC app above. To create a playlist of your music, just put them in the same folder. Documents’ music player looks pretty good and it has all the essential functions to control music playback.
Capriccio is not a free app but it has a lot of fascinating features for playing music. The app supports iTunes File Sharing, Wi-Fi transfer, iPod library music, cloud storages and even FPT/WebDAV connections. Not only can you add music to your iPhone easily via a Wi-Fi network connection, you can also create and manage your playlists, and sort your music by album, artist, and genre.
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Option 3: iTunes alternatives
The process of transferring music to iOS devices using iTunes is a hassle. Luckily, you don’t have to rely on this software all the time to manage your music library. There are several good sections of iOS-friendly software to download for free out there, and they’ll let you add music to your iPhone effortlessly.
This method is perfect for copying music for use in the stock Music app. You just need to connect your iOS device to the PC via a cable and a drag & drop affair will convert and transfer music directly to your device.
3uTools is a free iOS file and data management tool that makes it easier to manage apps, photos, music, ringtones, videos and other multimedia files on your iOS devices. It also allows you to view fully your device’s statuses such as jailbreak, battery, iCloud lock,…
Importing music using 3UTools is pretty simple. Once you have installed the application on your PC, connect your iPhone to the PC via the USB cable. 3uTools will detect your device and show you the device’s different statuses on the home screen.
Now click “Music” on the left sidebar, then click “Import”. You can choose a single music file or an entire folder from this option. Once you’ve selected and confirmed, 3uTools will start importing music to your iPhone. Wait until the transferring process is finished and you can find all songs in the Music app.
CopyTrans Manager is another free program that can fully replace iTunes for Windows user. The application allows you to quickly drag and drop music and videos from PC directly to your iOS device. Playlists, podcasts, audiobooks, and ringtones can also be imported to your iPhone/iPad easily using this tool.
The ability to edit tracks and artwork is one of the outstanding features of CopyTrans Manager. You’re able to edit track album names and genres, meta-data such as track ratings and song lyrics as well. Overall, CopyTrans is a great option for people who need to transfer or backup their music libraries.
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Option 4 (Jailbroken only):
If your iPhone is jailbroken, then you can easily bypass the restrictions of the iOS file system. There is a Cydia tweak that takes advantage of this and lets you import music directly to your iPhone’s music library, its name is Bridge. It also seems to be the only working tweak at this time.
Bridge allows you to import music and videos straight to your media library from multiple sources like files received in an email, files stored in other apps, and files downloaded from the Internet. Just select the “Open in” feature when sharing a file from other apps, you’ll find the option to import it into the Music app offered by the jailbreak tweak.
This is a must-have tweak for jailbroken users. No need to use iTunes and PC anymore! Just a tap and your songs will immediately show up in the stock Music application. It’s compatible with iOS 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and available for $1.99 from BigBoss repo.
Option 5: Streaming Music Services
With the advent of smartphones and always-on connections, the streaming service reigns supreme. Now by paying a flat monthly fee, you can access a selection of millions of songs from any devices. These services allow you to build your own catalogue of music in the cloud, as well as download them to your device for offline use.
iOS users can choose Apple Music as it’s integrated into the stock Music app and iCloud. iCloud Music Library lets you access music in your Library using iCloud, changes you make to your Library will also sync across all your devices.
If you feel like Apple Music is not for you, there are many options out there with varying similarities and differences: Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, SoundCloud, Google Play Music, Amazon Music, Microsoft Groove. Most of these services come with a free trial, so you can try them by yourself to see which one is right for you.
That’s how we can put music on iOS devices without the need for iTunes. Personally, I love the combination of OneDrive and Groove as I can keep my favorite songs in the cloud as well as have them available offline on my devices. Do you use any other ways that are efficient and convenient? Have you tried any of these methods already? Either way, let us know in the comment section below.