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Here’s Five Alternatives to iTunes 10 for Easily Managing Your iPod

When you think of iTunes, you might think of clunky, slow, and bloated software that isn’t always the easiest to use. If you’re looking for something that allows you to manage iPod content easier, today we look at some free and commercial alternatives.

Even with the recent release of iTunes 10, speed and performance hasn’t been addressed in any meaningful way. We have covered some tips to make iTunes run faster, but if you’re a geek who wants as as little to do with iTunes as possible, we’ll look at some quality alternatives.

CopyTrans Manager

This is a free app that will let you transfer your songs from your computer to an iPod, iPod Touch, or iPhone out of the box. After a quick and easy install, it will launch and is ready for you to connect your iPod, iPod Touch / iPhone.

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We were then able to add playlists to CopyTrans Manager and sync them with the iPod. You can add and delete music, videos, podcasts, and more. It’s lightweight and works nice for managing your music collection without iTunes. You can also listen to the music through your computer with your iPod or iOS device plugged in.

They also offer a standalone version that you can use on your iPod and listen to your music on any computer without having to authorize it via iTunes.

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Download CopyTrans Manager

Foobar2000

Foobar2000 is a personal favorite because it’s light on system resources and is a fully customizable player. To get it working with your iPod you’ll need to install a couple of free components to get it to sync up, but once you do it works very well. The two components you need are the iPod Manager and Nero AAC Codec.

For a full step-by-step…check out our article on how to use your iPod with Foobar2000.

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MediaMonkey

Another good alternative is either the free Standard version of MediaMonkey or the Gold version which requires a license. It allows you to manage your iPod out of the box without any additional addons and will play a large number of music formats including FLAC, MP3, APE, AAC, and more.

For more, check out our article on using Media Monkey as an iTunes alternative for managing your iPod.

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Songbird

Songbird has actually come a long way in its evolution, and if you leave the defaults while installing, it will also work with your iPod out of the box. During setup make sure to import your iTunes library.

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Now you can select to automatically sync all music or sync selected playlists manually.

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You can simply drag and drop songs from your music collection over to your iPod too.

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It also includes a lot of other cool features including different skins or “feathers” as Songbird calls them. Along with many plugins for enhancing your music experience.

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SharePod

SharePod is a useful tool that lets you transfer music and video from your iPod, iPod Touch, or iPhone to you PC and vice versa.

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Highlight the songs you want to copy to your PC and click Copy to computer on the navigation bar. Then choose a location on your hard drive, decide how you want the music to look like, and you can import tracks to iTunes if you want.

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SharePod doesn’t require installation so you can run it from a thumb drive which is always useful. After your tunes are copied over, you can move them where you want.

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It has a simple media player so you can play your songs from your iPod as well.

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One caveat we noticed is when we tried to copy media to an iPod Touch running iOS 4.1 we received the following error. This is a project that is in constant development, so the issue will likely be fixed in future releases. We didn’t have a non-iOS iPod to test out, but if you’ve had success with the Nano, Shuffle, or older generation device let us know in the comments.

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Commercial Software

We have also covered a couple of commercial apps that will help you manage your iPod data without iTunes. Starting with TouchCopy 09 that works on Mac and PC and let’s you use your iPod as a hard drive.

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Another handy utility for managing and cleaning it up a messy iTunes collection is TuneUp Media, which does have a free limited version and also an Annual and Gold service.

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It’s really unfortunate we need to find other alternatives to iTunes to better manage music on our iPods. With the introduction of iTunes 10, we were hoping there would be wireless sync capability and a streamlined interface. That wasn’t the case though, and one could call iTunes 10 the same old piece of bloated software it’s always been. If you’d like to make iTunes 10 a bit lighter, check out our step-by-step guide to installing iTunes without extra bloatware.

Also make sure to check out Ed Bott’s Unofficial Guide to installing iTunes 10 without bloatware

If you want to stick with iTunes for accessing the iTunes store and other features like Home Sharing, check out our article on Ways to Make iTunes Run Faster. By using different alternatives, you can get by with using iTunes as little as possible for things like updates, and the iTunes Store. Of course if you have an iOS device, you can access a lot of it directly from your device.

While the apps we covered here do a good job of managing your iPod, there are a lot of other apps out there we didn’t cover here. What is your take? Are you sick of iTunes and looking for an alternative? Leave us a comment and let us know what you use.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/24/10

Comments (52)

  1. Ryan

    I have yet to find a good iPod syncing programme for Linux.

    I have the iPod Nano 5g and most of the syncing programmes don’t support it, so I currently have to run a virtual box with windows and use a previous version of iTunes for it to work.

    If anyone knows of a decent programme under linux that supports the Nano 5g and supports last.fm scrobbles please let me know!

  2. Withanamelikedave

    Isis
    Neil Young

    I will be trying one of these as I also am tired of iTunes clunkiness.

  3. Sean Patterson

    I’ve used Songbird and MediaMonkey in the past with my iPod Touch and the only issue I’ve run across from time to time is that the artwork can get mangled, which I think is due to how each program likes to manage artwork (folder vs. embedded artwork in the music file).

    That said, I’m back to using MediaMonkey again since it has worked out a few issues I ran into on Windows 7 and love it again. Their free version is top notch.

    I’m not quite sure if it fits in the same category, but there is also doubleTwist out there, which can handle multiple devices.

  4. Dean

    I was having trouble finding a program that would transfer all my media from my ipod touch to my new laptop. I tried everything until I talked to a friend of mine from work and he told me about sharepod and i tried it and it did what I was wanting it to do. Thanks to the people that created that program my hat goes off to you.

  5. skater-andy

    I use sharepod for my sisters nano and it works fine! just had to install apple mobile device support first!

  6. Shawn

    @ Ryan~ I am hoping for an iPhone sync in Linux one day!

  7. billy

    looking for an alternative that works with 3rd gen shuffle…

  8. Lisa

    Ryan and Shawn,

    Word. When I figure out decent ipod management on Linux, I’m deleting my Windows partition. Until then…

  9. ProstheticHead

    THANK YOU!!!!

    Much as I’ve tried to love iTunes, I still can’t get the music I want to listen to onto my iPhone, and I’m still finding random duplicates all over.

    I’ve been using “MGTek dopisp” as an alternative until now. It sort of works, but is somewhat limited and a little buggy.

    These alternatives should keep me busy for a while.

  10. Zack

    @ Ryan and others, I use Rhthmbox in Ubuntu and it works perfectly for music. Of course, I have a 3 year oldiPod Classic and first gen Nano that I use it with. I don’t know if it’d work with new iPods.

    I personally use foobar2000 for my media player and iTunes for syncing with my iPod (in Windows). iTunes does it the best in my opinion because it doesn’t need any tweeking. I want to get rid of iTunes, but I haven’t found anything better. When I use Ubuntu, like I said earlier, I use Rhythmbox. When i need to put a video on it (rarely), I boot into Windows.

  11. Chanio

    Excuse me, but when you are saying that such programs are alternatives to iTunes, are you saying that they should work fine without having iTunes installed previously?
    Because up to now, I couldn’t find anyone that would detect my iPod in my new laptop.

    I guess that you always need to first install any vesion of iTunes, and later decide to use an alternative program.

    That doesn’t happen in Linux. If you have the library that detects an iPod you are able to install other applications that would sync with it easy. And even browse inside of it as a normal folder.

  12. SSC73

    I don’t like ipods. The trouble is, so many of my friends are always askin me to fill theirs. Using foobar up until now hasn’t been a problem.

    But with the nano 6th generation that a friend of mine had, I tried to do the standar load onto the nano and while the music was there, it didn’t show in the library on the ipod. Other issue were that some of the newer advanced features like the voice over or whatever it’s called(the program that announces the music playing and info about it) don’t seem to be supported by foobar or any ot the others as far as I can tell. So to fill her player, I had to install itunes, sync, and uninstall. I really hate the software and usually refuse.

    Anyone else have this problem with the sixth gen nano?

  13. Dave

    Tried the Copytrans manager, definitely worth it, super light and fast + free which never hurts.

  14. aval

    I am using floola on Windows AND Linux – works OK! But it does not support gapless playback, so for this case I still use iTunes :(

  15. Alekz

    I just use Winamp’s integration. Just right click a song in my playlist or library, then “Add to iPod”. Done. If I want to delete I use the Library. I hate iTunes, it’s so slow, bloated, boring and uncustomizable.

  16. whiplash55

    Apple make horrible software for Windows in general. These are all good alternatives, thanks.

  17. Hatryst

    Alright, I’d sync my iPod with something else. But how would I “PING” without iTunes? ;)
    Its better than that old facebook !

  18. GrandePA

    Great!!, because itunes is a big piece of shit.

  19. Jeff

    First I never have and never will use iTunes. Second, I can’t believe there are still people out there wasting their $$$ on iPods. Try a Sansa and you’ll never think of buying an iPod again.

  20. Jean-Michel

    I was never be able to use iTunes. Such a gas works!

    I found XPlay3, unfortunatly it’s not a freeware, but I can browse my iPod nano as an external drive.
    So I just Drag & Drop my music, simple as that! Like any other market MP3 players!

  21. Robyn

    Thank you for your article on the “Here’s Five Alternatives to iTunes 10 for Easily Managing Your iPod.”
    I was not aware that there was other software out there besides the dreaded “itunes.” You reviews of the alternative software helped me decide on a new and easy application for all my ipod needs. The itunes is so over-rated and bulks up my system. I am happy with my new choice of software.

  22. sasa

    nice music taste :)
    especially dream theater and tool

  23. Dave

    @SCC73 – none of the alternatives listed here currently supports writing to the Nano 6G. They can read it but not write as the hash has changed again.

    @Chanio – You will need the Apple drivers for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad support (any model). Installing iTunes will install the drivers but it beats the purpose. Copytrans drivers installer will install the drivers without installing iTunes.

  24. Ronin Vladiamhe

    CopyTrans Manager does not allow video/music to be transfered from iPod to Computer, CopyTrans is required.

  25. Master

    MediaMonkey totally wrecked my library on my iPhone, had to reconnect it using iTunes… that’s when i gave up using 3rd party managers for my iPhone

  26. leserji

    well, i got the new nano 6th gen and indeed i’ve tried several alternatives to write on it… no success. anyone succeeded since last post of Dave to SCC73?

  27. Kerith

    No luck for me either, thought id toss this in as a random.

    I copytrans, foobar2000 with various plugins. Even manual transfers. No luck.

  28. George

    Will either of the above mentioned allow me to connect to the ITunes store and purchase music?

    Thanks.

  29. Fran Ward

    I want to take some song off my shuffle. I have to constantly click to pass the songs I do not care to listen to again. Please give me instructions to make this happen.

  30. Jim Thompson

    Floofa works with iPod shuffle 3gen, and transfers things either way. Only issue I had was the speaking voice that tells you song names went away, but I am not sure that it wasn’t me accidentally removing it.

  31. Mark

    Do any (all?) of these work with audible.com’s audio books?

  32. Shell

    I’m using SharePod with my iPod Nano 4th Generation. Does anyone know a way I can scrobble my tracks to Last.fm?

  33. odopus

    Dont forget the wifi2hifi app. It allows to stream mucis from the MAC/PC to the iPhone – no iTunes needed

    http://www.wifi2hifi.com/

  34. Agent_Duk

    How could you not add doubleTwist (http://www.doubletwist.com/ to this list?! It’s incredible: it uses Amazon MP3, Android Market and allows you to sync with just about any device.

  35. ogrodafloresta

    BE CAREFUL WITH MEDIA MONKEY!

    I’ve been looking for an iTunes alternative that showed duplicates on the iPod (a 5G Nano).

    Got Media Monkey, plugged the iPod and the software said it couldn’t sync multiple times, while making that USB plug-in / plug-out sound warnings repeatedly.

    Hooked off the iPod, when to check if everything was OK and a big part of the album covers were messed or missing.

    Had to put all my songs on iTunes, mirror the playlists that were on the iPod, organize it all, restore the iPod and use the automatic sync to get everything back in order.

    I wanted to save some time looking for duplicates on iTunes, ended up messing it all up and spending hours to get things back to normal.

  36. jimmi

    COPYTRANS all the WAY,!!! I have used it over a year already,, I’m always excited to add music and vids to my iphone, because Copytrans just makes my liFe easier. I have tried Mediamonkey but it’s just toooo complicated. But keep itunes because you need it to update your ipod , that’s all it’s good for. BUT HEY! YouCan’t have it all.LOL . Deuces jimmi from the philippines

  37. Wind4953

    @Dave & @leserji
    I’m using Foobar2000 and followed the insruction given at the link above for “how to use your iPod with Foobar2000″ with my new iPod nano 6G:

    Model: iPod Nano 6G Blue
    Serial Number: C7R*********
    Firmware Version: 1.0

    I have no problems loading and reading musics and album art thru and from the iPod to my computer [Using Windows XP Professional SP3 (5.1, Build 2600)]. just follow exactly as the guide tells us. Good Luck!

    p/s: You will need 3 files which is provided (link) at the bottom of the guide. Though it ask us to still download iTunes installer to get some files from the iTunes setup file (no need to install iTunes, just get the files in the archive).

  38. leserji

    thanks Wind4953, i could install Foobar2000 on my computer (I<m running Ubuntu 11.04 on it); it is running smoothly but i do not get the option "send (my selected songs) to Ipod…"

  39. chrisbphoenix

    Sorry for such a late post, but Banshee (linux only as yet) supports iPod syncing as well.

  40. EdwardTam

    Foobar doesnt work for iPod Nano 6th gen

  41. Appricot

    Very nice! But how about Panamp – It has basic iOS music player features, and it is outstanding by it’s ability to make dynamic queues: quick mix of selected tracks
    and power search that quickly and efficiently find the artict, album and tracks. Most compatible with iTunes collection.

  42. chris

    i have a ipod touch 2nd generation. i have tried all of the alternatives in the post listed. still no luck. however, i also have a ipod nano 1st generation and have been using mediamonkey for sometime now. that works fine. my problem with itunes is that i dont have a home computer nor labtop. i go to the public libary or school and add music(which i have been told will delete everything). Can anyone help?????????

  43. Alex

    Just downloaded Mediamonkey, works brilliantly and it’s very easy to use, and I’m a girl. Tried but unfortunately CopyTrans Manager doesn’t support 6th gen. nanos.

  44. Dani

    I have a 3rd gen nano & an old computer w/o itunes. I’m not even sure where to begin.. should I do the “installing itunes w/o bloatware” then one of these others? Pretty sure I’ve never updated my poor ipod. Should I do that as well? I’ve never had my own computer, so up til now I’ve taken whatever music I can get from friends’ computers. = / lol I appreciate any help! = ]

  45. JazzyJ

    I have iPod Touch 4G and HAVE NOT FOUND ANYTHING that will transfer from MAC to IPOD without iTunes.

    If anyone has a solution – post it.

    I hate iTunes and would happily pay for anything that will ACTUALLY substitute it.

    There’s loads of programs to take stuff OFF iPod but I can’t find anything that will put stuff ON to iPod.

    Waste of time…..

  46. Mike W

    Currently trying Songbird – contrary to other people – it does not sync with iphone / touch etc. I am using it on an iMac (new) by the way.

    iTunes regularly screws up. I have, in the past 6 months, had to reinstall countless times forcing me to recreate playlists again and again. a complete dog of an app.

    Cheers.

  47. Shazzar

    why do so many people not like itunes? it has worked fine for me ever since ive been using it. i down load music by typing in google: the song name – mediafire. this downloads music for free and you can make it go to you itunes library. itunes is pretty easy to use actually.

  48. donna

    MY ZUNE WAS SO MUCH EASIER!!!!!!!

  49. donna

    I have way more music photos and videos than I want on my iPod. How do you keep it from sync everything!!!!! If more than one iPod is owned how do you keep everyones music seperate???
    This iTunes suxs. My Zunes were so much easier and you could erase music off of your zune without it taking it off the computer. AHAHHHAH

  50. PJ Pfenerheim

    SHAREPOD SUCKS.

    It will NOT transfer anything to new iphone4S.

    Bag o’ crap.

  51. Michael

    Most of these recommendations are pure rubbish, I have tried most of them. Whilst iTunes may well be bloated, it is best equipped to handle all functions of Iphone, iPad and iPod. Not all of us use our iPhone or iPad for music, there other uses in this world such as management and organisational tools and they often involve synchronization with a PC at some stage through the day. Non I have tried have wireless syncing ability whereas iTunes 10.5 does. Sorry guys but this article was written to satisfy those who want to own a device but are not content with the accompanying software preferring to hack their device or find alternative software that doesn’t carry the Apple logo only to discover when it is too late that they have completely lost compatibility with iTunes and can’t upgrade without a full restore losing all that they might have achieved with their alternative solutions, Just Google and see the problems that Jail-breaking iPhones has caused now that iOS 5 and iTunes 10.5 have been released, problems mainly to do with compatibility between devices and with iTunes.

  52. Corey

    Is ther no software to manage an iPhone 3G w/o having iTunes installed in the 1st place?

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