Apple’s iTunes defined how an entire generation listened to music. From collecting your favorite tracks to making playlists and uploading music to your MP3 player, iTunes comes with several useful features. However, Apple has started phasing iTunes out of its products with MacOS Catalina and is replacing iTunes with dedicated media apps for music, TV, and podcasts to reflect modern content consumption trends.
If you don’t like using iTunes or the other media apps offered by Apple, there are alternatives to consider. We’ve tested different apps and music players you can use on Mac as an alternative to iTunes or to the new media apps that come with recent Apple devices.
At a glance
- Best overall: VOX MP3 and FLAC Music Player
- Best free option: VLC Media Player
- Best premium audio player: Fidelia
- Best for streaming media: Elmedia Player
- Best simple music player: Musique
Best overall: VOX MP3 and FLAC Music Player
The Vox MP3 and FLAC Music Player app is our “Best Overall” alternative to iTunes because the basic, free version of the app offers up a sleek interface, an ability to play a wide variety of audio formats (MP3, FLAC, M4A, APE, WAV, etc.), and features Hi-Res audio (with 192kHz sound resolution). In addition, the Vox player allows users to play music from a variety of sources, and not just from your old iTunes library. In fact, the Vox player supports audio from the following sources as well: Last.FM scrobbling, SoundCloud, YouTube, and even online radio (for Vox Premium subscribers).
Speaking of the Vox Premium player service, users can access a host of premium Vox player features if they sign up for either a monthly or annual subscription. These features include support for Sonos wireless speaker systems, access to over 30,000 radio stations, advanced audio settings, and unlimited music cloud storage. The subscription rate is currently $5 per month or $50 per year.
Best free option: VLC Media Player
VLC Media Player is an open-source multimedia player that is totally free to download and use. And while it’s known for having a less-than-pretty, utilitarian interface for its Windows version, that’s actually not the case for the Mac version of this player. On Apple’s systems, VLC Media Player sports a minimalist design, and it fits in just fine with Apple’s aesthetic — none of the sad gray menus of its Windows counterpart.
It’s also easy to use, and supports a laundry list of video and audio formats. For those concerned about privacy and security, the developers behind VLC Media Player also maintain that their media players don’t contain spyware, ads, or engage in user tracking.
Best premium audio player: Fidelia
While Fidelia does offer a free-to-try option, it is still primarily an audio player app that you have to purchase to download and use. But it might be worth the $30. Touted as an app for “sophisticated music lovers,” Fidelia offers a highly-customizable music player experience. The app includes features such as high-definition audio, a distinctive interface that resembles “stereo systems of decades past,” support for 64-bit Audio Unit plug-ins, and AirPlay support for external speakers. Fidelia users can also download a separate iOS app that turns their iOS device into a remote control for the Fidelia Mac app. This iOS app, however, is sold separately and costs $10 to download.
It’s also worth noting that while it’s described as being able to play a wide variety of audio formats (including FLAC), the Fidelia app “does not support DRM-protected AAC files.”
Best for streaming media: Elmedia Player
You have two options with Elmedia Player: either opt for the free version or pay for premium access. Either way, this Mac media player app is a reliable iTunes replacement with a host of capabilities. It can do so much more than just play audio and video files. The free version of the Elmedia Player app supports a wide range of audio and video formats, including FLV, MP3, FLAC, Blu-ray, and AVI. The free version also allows you to stream your files to other devices such as Apple TV, Chromecast, Smart TVs. It also works with other devices that are DLNA and AirPlay-enabled. Another attractive streaming option included with Elmedia Player is its Open Online Video feature. The feature lets you stream online videos from sites like YouTube and Dailymotion — without ads.
Google has a reputation for designing slick, useful applications. Google’s Fiber Speedtest is no exception. The speed test is free to use, even if you aren’t a subscriber to Google’s Fiber service. Because it’s from Google, you know it’s both fast and easy to use.
In fact, it’s one of the fastest speed tests we’ve found. A full test will only take 10 to 15 seconds and delivers amazing accuracy. The results deliver all the information you’d expect, providing upload and download speeds, as well as ping data.
In the upper-right corner, it tells you the server to which you are connecting. You can click on Learn More to see what kind of performance you could expect from Google Fiber and how it compares to your current speed. If you want a rapid and accurate test, give this one a try.
Best simple music player: Musique
The free music player Musique app is an awesome choice for anyone who’s looking for a fast and simple way to listen to music. You can find your favorite music using Musique’s intuitive user interface. Music is stored in categories including genre, folder, artist photos, or even album cover.
Musique supports over 20 languages, which is helpful for users who use English as a second language. If you enjoy MacOS Catalina’s Dark Mode and Last.fm scrobbling, Musique offers built-in support that works seamlessly.
When you’re running a Mac, Apple makes an attempt to steer you toward the proprietary iTunes app. For users that want to try something a little different, these alternatives are worth a look. You might just find an improved listening experience along with more unique features on some of these other apps.
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- How to transfer music from an iPod to a computer
- How to use Plex to manage and play all of your media, everywhere
- How to make ringtones for an iPhone
- Apple Music vs. Spotify