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How to Get Music Onto Your Android Phone Without iTunes

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iTunes can’t sync your music library to an Android device, and Google doesn’t offer an iTunes-style desktop app. However, there are several ways you can easily transfer your music collection to your Android smartphone or tablet.

Google’s Music Manager application even integrates with your iTunes music library, automatically copying your music to the cloud so you can stream it from anywhere and easily download it to your Android devices.

Upload Your Music to Google Play Music

Google Play Music is Google’s “music locker”-type service — like Apple’s iCloud. Google provides a desktop application known as Google Music Manager that can be installed on Windows, Mac, and even Linux. Google Music Manager scans your computer for music and uploads it to your  Play Music account. The application also functions similarly to iTunes Match — if it finds songs it knows about on your hard drive, it will automatically “match” the songs with its own copies in Google Music, saving you bandwidth and time by avoiding uploads. If it finds music it doesn’t know about it, it will upload your copies.

In addition to watching folders, Google Music Manager can also watch your iTunes or Windows Media Player library and automatically match and upload your music. (Music files with DRM are not supported.)

Note that Google Play Music is only available in certain countries. You can have up to 20,000 individual songs in your Play Music account.

To get started, install the Google Music Manager application on your computer. Tell it where you store your music — either in iTunes, Windows Media Player, or custom folders. It will automatically scan the locations and upload the music to your Google account. The Music Manager application starts automatically in the background and remains running, automatically uploading new music to your account.

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Once it’s uploaded, you’ll find your music in the Play Music app that comes installed on many Android devices. If it’s not on your device, you can install it from the Play Store. You can stream your entire music collection from anywhere, assuming you have data or Wi-Fi access. Tap the header at the top of the screen to switch between All Music and On Device.

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To store music offline so you can play it without connecting to Wi-Fi or using any precious data, long-press an album or song and select Keep on Device. Android will download a copy or your music, allowing you to play it anywhere. You can put music on your device and even listen to your entire music library when you have an Internet connection — no messing with cables or transferring music back and forth required.

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Uploaded music is also available at Google Play Music on the web, where you can stream it from anywhere. If you want to download your music, you can use the Download my library button in Google Music Manager.

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Copy Music Files Over Manually

While the above method is Google’s preferred method of putting music on your Android device, you can still do it the old-fashioned way. Connect your Android to your computer using a USB cable. Use Windows Explorer to copy your music files to the Music folder on your device.

You can also use the excellent AirDroid to copy songs and other files over Wi-Fi without even connecting your phone to your computer.

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You can then play music on your Android device. The included Play Music music player will pick up music you’ve copied over manually, as will a wide variety of third-party music player apps.

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Use Other Music Services

There are many other music services you could choose to use instead. You could store your music in Amazon Cloud Player and use the official Amazon MP3 app to play it on your device. You could subscribe to a music service like Spotify or Rdio for access to millions of streaming songs and the ability to download anything to listen to offline. You could use a streaming app like Pandora or TuneIn Radio to listen to music anywhere you have an Internet connection.

You could even use a third-party desktop app like DoubleTwistSnapPeaSynx, or even Winamp to sync your desktop music collection to your Android device, if you’d like an iTunes-like desktop syncing experience.

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Android may not have iTunes, but iTunes is a clunky desktop application that many iPhone users who use Windows don’t like, anyway. The future is wireless.

Image Credit: Alexander Stübner on Flickr

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 04/18/13

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