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Do I Have to Use iTunes to Sync Music to my iPod?

written by: Erik Hinrichsen•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 10/20/2010

Many iPod owners wonder whether they need to use iTunes to sync music to their iPods. This article answers their questions and gives a list of some of the best alternatives to iTunes.

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    Because iTunes is developed by Apple, the same company behind the iPod, many people assume that using the software is mandatory. This misconception proves frustrating for some people who want more functionality out of their music players. Fortunately, you do not have to use iTunes to sync music to the iPod. There are a number of iTunes alternatives available, most of them free. Though the iPod is designed to be used with iTunes, other alternatives will work just as well. Although using these aternative methods might be a bit more difficult than using iTunes. Still, the added features of iTunes alternatives may make up for an incidental difficulties.

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    Once one takes a look outside the cloistered world of Apple products, it's surprising how many alternative iPod-managing programs there are to be found. Which one of the many available programs is the best alternative to iTunes depends on the features you are looking for. Fortunately, there are dozens of programs freely available online, and many more available for a fee.

    Some users have found problems with using iTunes: it can be slow and buggy on Windows computers, and has a tendency to take up excessive amounts of memory. In keeping with a long-held trend in Apple products, iTunes has only limited potential for modification, which may irk some users. These issues may prompt some users to make the switch out of iTunes and use other programs to sync media with their iPods.

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    iTunes Alternatives and Features

    While you do not have to use iTunes to sync music and videos to your iPod, iTunes is the easiest option. The best iTunes alternatives give users the ability to copy over playlists, videos, music, and photos to their iPods. Some may allow you to remove irritating DRM features from music as well. That being said, check out the following overview of some of the best alternative iPod managing programs.

    foobar2000

    Foobar2000 is the ideal music-organizing program for the user who wants extreme customizability. The program also supports large music librariers without slowdown and without taking up too much memory. It is easy to use, works with most iPods, and supports every file type supported by iTunes and more.

    Winamp

    This software is available for free (though a Pro version, which has extra functionality, is available for a fee) and does a good job of organizing music and interacting with the iPod.

    Banshee

    This open source player is available on Mac OS X and Linux. It is highly customizable through a plugin feature, which allows users to download plugins. In keeping with the open source ethos, Banshee is available free of cost.

    Yamipod

    Another free iPod manager, this device automatically recognizes plugged-in iPods. Its most exciting feature is one that iTunes puzzlingly lacks: the ability to copy songs off of the iPod. Users wondering how to get songs off their iPods should check out Yamipod or one of the other iTunes replacements with the feature.

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    This article answers users who wonder, "Do I have to use iTunes to sync music to my iPod?" There are many, many good alternatives to iTunes available, and most of them are free. Some programs are more customizable than iTunes, while others have extra features (such as the ability to copy music off of the iPod).