Apple's iPod is arguably the most popular portable music player in the world. Its companion software is iTunes. However, you may not want to use iTunes or you may be unable to get iTunes to work properly. If that's the case, you need alternative software to put music onto your iPod. Thankfully, the popularity of the device has propelled the development of several alternatives to the official software, which is ideal, especially if all you want to do is put some music on your iPod.
The most flexible alternative is Floola, which works in Windows, OSX and Linux. Simply install this software and direct it to the folders on your computer that contain your music. Floola will then identify all of your music and read its metadata so it can be easily searched and sorted. Once your iPod is connected to the computer, transferring music to it just takes a few clicks. You can also transfer files from the iPod, convert files from one format to another, manage playlists and even perform some diagnostic tests.
Winamp and ml_ipod
Windows users can get Winamp and download its ml_ipod plugin. It has the same general features as Floola, plus it can extract audio from your music CDs and convert it to formats compatible with your iPod. As with Floola, however, its compatibility with the iPhone and iPod Touch is experimental, since those devices manage their hard drive data in a much different way than the other models, making it difficult for these programs to "see" the files on those devices. These two devices also use different, more complex methods of obscuring the data in ways that only iTunes can manage reliably.
Another popular option is MediaMonkey. This program's interface looks more like Floola than Winamp's media library tool. It has a reputation for being able to handle very large libraries and providing better support for the iPhone and iPod touch. Like the other iTunes alternatives, it can be downloaded for free.
You can also purchase the "Gold" version for $20, which adds such things as a file monitor (automatically updating your library as music is added), flexible playlist creation, automatic file conversion and MP3 encoding integration. Another option is a $40 "Lifetime License," which is a one-time fee granting you access to all the versions of MediaMonkey that the developer will ever release. These purchases are made directly from the MediaMonkey website. The application is also a small download; less than eight megabytes compared to iTunes' 88 megabytes. However, MediaMonkey, like Winamp, is Windows-only.
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