iTunes is a real mix of convenience and car crash. It’s nice to be able to buy, sync and manage media with one app but if that app is bloated, takes up a ton of space and isn’t exactly intuitive to use, it’s time to look elsewhere. There are alternatives to iTunes and some of them are pretty good. Here are a few of what I think are the best MP3 managers for Mac.
To be on this list, an app has to offer the ability to manage and play music. It should also be easy to use, not want to bloat its way across our Mac and work without issue. We obviously cannot buy media through these apps but we can certainly play, organize and edit our music collection with them.
Some of the top MP3 managers for Mac
All of these applications are free. There may be paid addons or premium versions but each app I tested was free of charge.
Plexamp takes after Winamp which I used for many years. Plexamp is a spiritual successor rather than the actual successor and works fine on a Mac. It manages music, plays it and utilizes the awesome Plex to stream your music to any connected device which is a big plus in the win column. It does take a little configuring though if you don’t already have Plex running but once it’s going, it is a breeze to use.
You can set up Plex purely for offline use should you want to and control all of your computer media. Plexamp only works with MP3 files, so you will need another media player if you want to use video.
Clementine is an awesome media manager and I featured it on my MP3 managers for Windows piece because it is so good. Clementine can manage your local music library as well as cloud-based tunes. It can play all kinds of formats and enables editing, tagging, visualizations, podcasts and all manner of other media types.
Clementine is also free which is surprising given how powerful the program is. It works well, plays and manages music and is very straightforward to set up and use. If Plexamp doesn’t work for you, Clementine will.
Nightingale is what iTunes should have become. It looks and feels like iTunes and largely works in a similar manner. It is open source so has had the luxury of going its own way and is all the better for it. Nightingale is simple, unfussy and very capable. It manages music libraries, tags, multiple formats and can play video files too. It also includes its own web browser which you can integrate with Netflix, Pandora, Spotify or other streaming service if you wanted to.
The real strength behind Nightingale is its addons. There are dozens of them offering different skins, sound effects, equalizers and all manner of features. The base program is useful enough but once you begin adding features it becomes something else!
VLC Media Player
No list of the best MP3 managers for Mac would be complete without mentioning VLC Media Player. The all-conquering VLC isn’t just a video player but can manage your MP3s too. It can seek out your music and organize it, play audio, video, stream from the internet and create playlists. It does most of the things we regularly use iTunes for, only better.
VLC doesn’t win many awards for design but it should for UX. It is simple to use, easy to manage and one of the most powerful media players out there on any system. And it’s free!
foobar2000 also featured on my Windows list and for good reason. Like the others here, it is simple, powerful and gets the job done with less bloat and messing around than iTunes. The UI is much simpler and won’t appeal to those who like design but for the rest of us, this is plenty good enough.
foobar2000 manages music libraries and can do so much more once you begin exploring addons. The base program is decent enough but the addons are where the real power lies. They offer a ton of features that can take your music management to the next level if you have the patience.
All of these MP3 managers are credible alternatives to iTunes. All manage music libraries, play your music and allow you to create playlists. With the right addons or configuration, most of these are capable of so much more!
Do you have any suggestions for an MP3 manager for Mac? Tell us about it below if you do!