Alternatives for iTunes.
June 16, 2005 6:40 AM   Subscribe

I hate iTunes. What else can I use to manage songs on an iPod?

Has anyone had any luck with any specific third party apps? iTunes has to be the least usable program evar.
posted by Count Ziggurat to Technology (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
ephPod seems nice...? It's got a few issues (sorts columns weirdly), but it also seems to have a lot of functionality I haven't even had the time to explore...

I use it to transfer tracks off my iPod...
posted by tpl1212 at 6:43 AM on June 16, 2005

Count Ziggurat, I think I love you.

I've had my iPod for about three years, and while it's a usable appliance it does have some serious flaws that the mac fan(atic)s completely ignore. And to be honest, iTunes isn't much better.

You're going to want to set yourself up with two programs:
Ephpod is a much more robust program that will allow you to update your iPod the way you want to.
Hymn allows you the ability to easily remove the DRM nonsense from songs purchased on the iTunes store. I LOVE the ability to buy songs on iTunes, and I would never (and I'm being honest) illegally share music, but I want my songs in mp3 format (for Tivo compatibility).

Take a look at these two apps, and your iPod experience will improve vastly.

On preview, tpl1212 beat me to it.
posted by hummus at 6:47 AM on June 16, 2005

Best answer: If you like WinAmp, there's a plug-in that adds iPod support to the Media Library. Worked great for me.
posted by Bezbozhnik at 6:59 AM on June 16, 2005

Tell us what you hate about iTunes and what you're looking for so we can give better recommendations. Also, we need to know what platform you use.
posted by neustile at 6:59 AM on June 16, 2005

I don't hate iTunes, but since I'm on Linux (and there's no iTunes for Linux), I use gtkpod.
posted by sveskemus at 7:12 AM on June 16, 2005

Response by poster: I'm using Windows 2000.

I just find the iTunes UI most unfriendly. I do not buy music from Apple. I have a folder of music which I periodically empty into the iPod and refill with new music. I managed this with iTunes for a while, until I accidentally hit the useful keyboard shortcut for "Delete everything. Now." 500+ songs were wiped.
I don't want to "sync" my iPod with my computer, for space reasons. Or buy music from iTunes. Or use the iTunes library. Or "Radio".

What I'm looking for will just upload a folder of music onto the Pod when I ask it to. Preferably, it should check if I already have the song on the iPod, and not upload it if I do.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 7:22 AM on June 16, 2005

Not exactly what your asking for, but sharepod is a neat little Windows program that lives on the iPod, so when you're on the road you can obtain music from your friends computers* and copy your music to their computers**. It will also play musics directly off the iPod.
*Music that you already have a legally purchased and licensed copy but just haven't gotten around to ripping yet
**Music they they already have a legally purchased and licensed copy but just haven't gotten around to ripping yet
posted by Capn at 7:34 AM on June 16, 2005

I used Anapod Explorer from Red Chair Software (Windows-based) and it was pretty good.
posted by matildaben at 7:36 AM on June 16, 2005

Let's not forget Audion.
posted by mds35 at 7:49 AM on June 16, 2005

I'm using Windows 2000.

posted by mds35 at 7:50 AM on June 16, 2005

A third recommendation for EphPod. It's a great iTunes replacement (and it's free). iTunes is garbage. Maybe it's a lot better in the Mac environment, but for Windows it's just atrocious.
posted by purephase at 8:08 AM on June 16, 2005

iTunes is garbage if you want to use it differently than how Apple intends it to be used.

This is true for any piece of software from any company. Apple is just a little more pushy than most.
posted by Eamon at 8:20 AM on June 16, 2005

Seconding the Winamp iPod plugin.
posted by Jairus at 8:21 AM on June 16, 2005

I love iTunes, why do you hate iTunes?

Can I ask a question?
posted by a thousand writers drunk at the keyboard at 8:27 AM on June 16, 2005

Thirded: Winamp with iPod plugin. Very flexible, works great.
posted by muckster at 8:29 AM on June 16, 2005

JRiver's Media Center and MediaFour's XPlay.
posted by DandyRandy at 8:54 AM on June 16, 2005

Seconding the Anapod explorer option, but I am in a good mind to start using the winamp plugin - I hear many good things about this. Starting with - its free.
posted by mattr at 9:00 AM on June 16, 2005

n^x-ing WinAmp with iPod plugin - best thing I've used. Small, fast, efficient and allows you to copy music back off the iPod onto your computer too. Uses about 1/5th of the system resources that iTunes uses.
posted by blag at 9:00 AM on June 16, 2005

Long time Windows XP and WinAmp user here. I similarly hate iTunes. I find it to be extremely unresponsive, slow to load, and computationally intensive. I also don't like how 'iPodService.exe' and 'iTunesHelper.exe' are persistant applications.

The iPod players (I have a Mini and Shuffle) are solidly built. However having the volume control on a touch sensative scroll wheel has got to be the worst idea ever; it's cool but terribly impractical.

Moreover I wish the firmware handled ID3 tags better. If the file lacks an ID3 tag it should do something other than just pretending like the file doesn't exist. Also the firmware should handle spaces better: 'Beatles ' is the same band as 'Beatles'.
posted by hendrixson at 9:27 AM on June 16, 2005

Only caveat I see with the Winamp route is that Winamp seems not to recognize genre tags in AAC files. I ported music into iTunes when I got my wife an iPod, converted to AAC because the music sounded good that way, and dropped the AAC plug-in into Winamp to play back music (iTunes, aside from being a resource hog, has a mini player mode that is useless on Windows - too big to hide anywhere. Winamp on the other hand collapses down to a windowbar-thin mini player that can happily live in the top right corner of my screen, like the MS Office toolbar used to do, without covering up any important screen real estate. Plus, Milkdrop.)

Anyway, Winamp has a smart playlist feature, but the types of smart playlists I put together in iTunes won't work in Winamp, because it can't list things by genre. Looks like it recognizes some basic entries, but anything out of the ordinary is left as a blank. "Rock" for example will show up, but "Mash Up" is a blank. Don't even try "Shibuya-Kei". Don't know if this is a limitation of the AAC plug-in for Winamp, or for Winamp itself... Wish they'd get an AAC plug-in that worked so I didn't have to keep reinstalling a third-party one every time I update the program.

I find it frustrating that Apple insists on using their own standards for building Windows-specific software. Yes, I realize that they're trying to encourage Windows users to switch to a Mac, and to familiarize Windows users with the Mac software setup is a good start, but damn - Windows has some guidelines specifying how programs should look and behave, right? If Microsoft made an office version for OSX that looked and worked just like Office 2003, Apple would have a fit because MS would be breaking their guidelines for program chrome, etc. Well, they're doing it on Windows, so turnabout should be fairl play, right? The ease-of-use factor for Quicktime and iTunes for Windows users really aren't helping encourage people to switch. They're an awful fit in a Windows environment, visually and functionally, no matter how well they integrate on a Mac.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:42 AM on June 16, 2005 [1 favorite]

foobar2000 seems to have better AAC support than Winamp, and I had started using it with the foo_pod plugin to manage my iPod before my USB cable broke.
posted by markpasc at 12:15 PM on June 16, 2005

Response by poster: I'm now using the Winamp plugin, and it's great. Thanks for the advice.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 1:20 PM on June 16, 2005

I like the Winamp plugin but (I think) it fuxx0red my Date Added and Date Modified tags in the iTunes database on the 'pod (I swap between the two depending on my mood). Apparently I added a whole bunch of songs in 1978.
posted by John Shaft at 3:20 PM on June 16, 2005

The iPod players (I have a Mini and Shuffle) are solidly built. However having the volume control on a touch sensative scroll wheel has got to be the worst idea ever; it's cool but terribly impractical.

I find the volume on the touch sensitive scroll wheel to be a great idea and very practical. And of course it can be locked. Different strokes for different folks.
posted by justgary at 4:48 PM on June 16, 2005

dflemingdotorg wrote "Are you advocating that companies don't try to innovate because users are 'stuck' on another set of standards?"

No, just saying if you're designing for Apple you make the product fit into an Apple environment. If you're designing for a different OS, you should make the end product fit that environment as well. For a Windows user, iTunes doesn't work intuitively. No "delete" option to remove files? No "properties" option to see what the file info is? No "file type" listing? Sure, once you figure out "Clear" and "Get Info" and "Kind" it's all the same, but it just seems smug of Apple to not bother changing those commands to fit with the rest of the operating system. Not even going into the non-native widgets, scrollbars, UI chrome, etc. Dropping in a non-standard UI is not respecting the end user. People presumably pick an OS because they are familiar with the interface or like how it works. Giving them a product that is designed specifically not to match that user experience isn't a good business practice.

It's not like these standards are hard to find. They're written up and published for a reason.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:59 AM on June 17, 2005

I'd also like to add Media Monkey to the fray.... iPod support is still in beta I believe, but it's by FAR the best tag management software I've used for windows.
posted by twiggy at 9:09 AM on June 17, 2005

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