The iPhone and iPad are great devices, but unfortunately, Apple heavily tethers them to iTunes, which is a bloated, slow, and feature-poor program when compared to most of its competitors. Here's how to migrate your music to a new player and keep syncing your iOS devices without needing iTunes.
Music by Chris Zabriskie
We're only going to cover Windows in this guide, since iTunes isn't nearly as bad on the Mac, and because Mac users don't have a lot of other options when it comes to syncing their music. Apple regularly attempts to block any software that syncs music with iOS, so most programs don't even try. Luckily, MediaMonkey — one of our favorite music players on Windows — syncs with all kinds of iOS devices, so it's a great iTunes replacement. If you want to use something else, you could always use iTunes for syncing and a separate player for listening, but today we're going to look at how to do it all in one program, which means we'll be using MediaMonkey.
Sync Your Music, Videos And Podcasts With MediaMonkey
MediaMonkey is an awesome, fully-featured media player that's perfect for replacing iTunes. It has a lot of awesome organisation features, syncs with iOS devices, and has a bunch of add-ons for extra customisability. All you need to do is import your existing iTunes library and you'll be well on your way to a better music experience on Windows. Here's what you need to do.
Step One: Migrate Your Library
To start, you'll want to move all of your music from iTunes to MediaMonkey. This is very easy:
- First, download and install MediaMonkey. You don't need to pay for the Gold version for today's tasks, but it does have some nice extra features.
- When you first open MediaMonkey, it will take you through a setup wizard. During the last step, it will ask you to scan your music folder for files. Select the folders you want from your "iTunes Media" folder (such as Music, Videos and Podcasts). If you like, you can also click on the iTunes Media folder and click "Scan at Startup" or "Scan Continuously", which constantly monitors that folder for new music.
- When you're done, click Finish. MediaMonkey will now scan your iTunes folder for files.
When it has finished, you should see your entire library — music, videos and podcasts — show up in MediaMonkey. MediaMonkey will then prompt you to import metadata such as play count and ratings, to which you can reply "Yes". When it's done, you'll have all your music, metadata intact, inside MediaMonkey.
Step Two: Migrate Your Playlists
Unfortuntely, MediaMonkey misses out on importing one thing: playlists. If you want to keep all your playlists from iTunes, you'll need to import them separately, after you've imported your library. Fortunately, this is really easy to do:
- Head to this site and download the iPlaylist Importer script. Double-click on it to install it into MediaMonkey.
- Once it's installed, head to Tools > Scripts > iPlaylist Importer.
- Navigate to your iTunes music folder and select your iTunes Library.xml file. It should import all your existing playlists.
You'll find the newly-imported playlists under the "Playlists > iPlaylists" section of the MediaMonkey sidebar, after which you can move them to wherever you want in the Playlists category.
Step Three: Sync Your Music, Videos, and Podcasts
Now that your library is in place, it's time to sync your device! Here's what you need to do:
- Plug in your device — iPhone, iPod or iPad — and look for it in the sidebar. When it pops up, click on it to access its options.
- Click on the "Auto-Sync List" tab and select the media you want to sync. You can select music by artist, album, rating, genre, or select certain playlists instead. You can also sync videos and podcasts.
- When you're done selecting your music, click over to the Options tab, choose "Auto-Sync" and select "Delete files and playlists not included in the Auto-Sync list from the device". This makes the sync work just like iTunes, removing files you haven't selected in MediaMonkey so you don't have to delete them manually. You can also select "Auto-Sync files from the device to the PC" if you ever download music, videos, or podcast on your device.
- Click the Apply button at the bottom of the MediaMonkey window.
- Click the "Auto-Sync" button at the top of the MediaMonkey window. It will start the sync process, just like iTunes.
That's it! When it's done, you'll have all your music, videos, podcasts, and playlists on your device just like you usually do. You'll need to keep iTunes installed in order to sync, so you can't uninstall it completely, but from now on you can add new music to MediaMonkey, manage it from right inside the app, and never open iTunes again. If you want to add new music to MediaMonkey, just add it anywhere in your old iTunes Music folder and head to File > Add/Rescan in MediaMonkey to add them. Alternatively, if you selected "Scan at Startup" or "Scan Continuously" in the initial setup, it'll automatically add those files to MediaMonkey after you copy them to your old iTunes folder. You can move your music to another folder if you like, but everything should work fine as-is.
The only thing you won't get after migrating is automatic folder organisation, the way you had in iTunes. For that feature you'll need to Purchase MediaMonkey Gold, then enable the "Auto-Organize" feature in MediaMonkey's settings.
Transfer Files to All Your Apps with iFunBox
So that takes care of your music, but what about the apps on your device? Chances are you have an app or two that requires some sort of document sync. Maybe it's a third-party video player that needs videos, or a comic book reader that needs comic books added to its library. You can keep syncing these files without iTunes using an iOS explorer like iFunbox. iFunbox is particularly easy to use:
- Download and install iFunbox to your computer, then open it up. Click over to the "Managing App Data" tab.
- Select the app to which you want to sync your files.
- Drag your files from Windows Explorer into iFunBox's window, and it will copy them to your app of choice, without ever opening iTunes.
As far as downloading new apps, you don't need iTunes for that either — you can do that straight from your device.
Back Up Your Device with iCloud
When you sync your device with iTunes, it backs up your device's settings to your computer, which is really handy if your device breaks or you get a new one. Luckily, you don't need iTunes for this either. Open up iTunes, plug in your device, and select the "iCloud" option under the Backup category. Click Apply and from now on, your device will back up all those settings to iCloud instead, meaning you never need to plug it into iTunes again.
This may not cover every single thing that iTunes does (does anyone use Voice Memos?) but it should get you over the biggest humps. If you have any other tricks for ditching iTunes, let us know about them in the comments.