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.

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.

Download CopyTrans Manager


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.


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.


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.

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

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

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.


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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.