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
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 speakers 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.
VLC Media Player
VLC Media Player is a totally free to download and use open-source multimedia player. 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.
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.”
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.
The paid version of the Elmedia Player app is available through the Mac App Store. Frankly, it’s unclear to us what the difference is between the two versions. Many of the paid version’s listed features are also in the unpaid version’s description. Since the paid version costs $10, we can’t reason shelling out the cash before trying the free version. It may be best to test out the free option before handing over your money.
Maybe all you need is a quick, easy-to-use music player. If so, the Musique app for Macs is an excellent solution. This music player is free to download and use. It has a simple, clean interface that allows browsing your music files by album cover, genre, folder, or artist photos. There’s support for MacOS Catalina’s Dark Mode and even Last.fm scrobbling. Musique is even available in over 20 languages, which makes it ideal for a range of users.
When you’re running a Mac, Apple assumes you’ll want to use their proprietary iTunes app. But if you prefer to head off the beaten path, these alternatives are worth a try. Other media apps may even offer a better listening experience — and more features — than iTunes.