Clementine: A Sweet Music App for the Mac

Giving up iTunes is a tough sell. It’s the music app we love to hate, and with every update, it seems we find new reasons to both cherish and recoil at what for many of us is our default music player. Because iTunes gets the job done, though, most of us don’t go looking elsewhere for a better choice.

Clementine, with lots of options and even more ways to play your music, may be the music app we all didn’t know we were looking for. Integrating with lots of music services and giving you plenty of ways to create playlists and control your music, Clementine is a fresh take on something we all take for granted. Is that enough to displace the mighty iTunes?

Bust a Move

First you need to get all of your music into Clementine. Luckily for your Mac’s storage, you don’t have to actually copy all those files into a new music library. Instead, Clementine can use your existing iTunes media as its source. The first time you launch Clementine, you’ll be prompted to add your music, but you can also get back to there anytime you want in the future by selecting Music Library in the application preferences. Just browse for the folder containing all your iTunes music.

Add as many folders to your Clementine music list as you like.

Add as many folders to your Clementine music list as you like.

In fact, you can tell Clementine to scan as many folders as you like. Each time Clementine opens, it will scan the folders you’ve listed for new music files and add them to your Clementine library. I’m used to having to manually import any music I don’t actually download in iTunes, and that doesn’t always happen the same day or even the same week, so I think that’s pretty cool. You’re also not tied to just one folder, so if you want to keep media anywhere other than in your iTunes or Music folder for that matter, Clementine’s on top of that.

That’s great and all, but with a few minutes effort, you’d have all of your music into iTunes anyway. Clementine is just a more citrus-themed place to be, right? Wrong. Clementine doesn’t just stop at the music you’ve got on your computer. You can add music that’s not on your computer, too. Wait up, hold the phone, how does that even work?

Add music streaming services to Clementine, too.

Add music streaming services to Clementine, too.

Clementine allows you to sign into music streaming services, like Spotify, Grooveshark, Last.fm, and others. You may need a premium account to make some of these work, such as Spotify, but for others all you need is a login to get your music into Clementine. If you’ve got music files stored on Google Drive, Clementine will add those to your music library, too. That’s a pretty sweet deal if you mirror your Google Drive files on your Mac hard disk and don’t want to double up on any media files by being forced to keep them in a specific media folder.

You'll get lots of bonus info.

You’ll get lots of bonus info.

Break It Down

I’m going to be upfront and let you know I’m a full on hermit. If I want to know what’s happening in the outside world, especially the news of the day, I’m looking to podcasts. While there are lots of music players, and sure they can play your podcasts, too, not all of them will sync your podcast subscriptions. If my main music app doesn’t sync podcasts, it’s almost not worth it to me, because I’m going to end up back in iTunes all the time anyway.

Admittedly, the interface isn't pretty, but the app functions great.

Admittedly, the interface isn’t pretty, but the app functions great.

Clementine will do all that, though. You’ll need an account with gPodder.net, but you can search for and subscribe to all of your podcasts. In Clementine’s preferences you’ll log into your gPodder.net account, just like any of the streaming services, and Clementine will have access to all of your subscribed podcasts as they’re updated.

If you have a mobile device and want to sync your music, you can do that with Clementine, too. There’s lots to love about browsing the iTunes store on your Mac, and you won’t find that in Clementine, but if you get apps and updates over Wi-Fi or data anyway or don’t even have a iOS device and just need to sync your music, Clementine’s on top of it. The one caveat is that you’ll need iTunes installed if you want to transfer music to an iOS device, but iTunes can’t be removed from OS X 10.8 without making your Mac freak out, so you most likely have some version of iTunes present.

Final Thoughts

I’ll just come right out and say that Clementine doesn’t look all that great, and there aren’t any skins available to change up the interface. That may lead you to think Clementine is an outdated or abandoned project, but its most recent update, which included podcast support, was only a few months ago.

Clementine brings a lot of features to the table that aren’t available in other music players, most notably iTunes, such as support for popular music streaming service Spotify and others and integration with Google Drive. I love trying out new applications, but if I can replace two or more apps with one that works just as well or better, I’m a happy camper. And Clementine is a music player that does just that, replacing a ton of music I apps I have crudding up my Dock and Applications folder, simply and effectively managing my music library and the rest of my music, too, even if all that music isn’t actually on my Mac.


Summary

Nice music player with lots of extra features.

7
  • http://www.thepapermail.com Jacob Penderworth

    So promising, yet that user interface is downright terrible. A little polish would have been nice.

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      I definitely agree there.

      • http://pauladupont.com Paula DuPont

        There are lots of great looking apps that don’t do a whole lot or perform badly. I prefer not to judge a book by it’s cover! :D

    • http://pauladupont.com Paula DuPont

      I checked out some of the forums, and users had suggested a skinning system (called peels!) but they were pretty much rejected out of hand. This was an offshoot of a previous project, and it was suggested that if there were skins for Clementine, it would be too much like the OLD thing, and the people who suggested skins were just so gauche. :P

  • moom

    I have a good bit of music on an external drive that I don’t want to import into iTunes, so I needed a music player that would operate independently of iTunes. I had been using Play, but when I got a new MacBook Pro using Mountain Lion, Play was no longer supported by OS 10.8. I found Clementine & have been using it to play music over my home stereo system. It’s a bit cluttered with services I don’t use, but it plays almost any music format I push at it, and that’s what I want. I suppose it could be improved, but if you are looking for a stand-alone music player for your Mac, it does the job.

  • http://www.alokdesai.in Alok Desai

    Sounds good, but doesn’t ‘look’ good.

    • http://pauladupont.com Paula DuPont

      That is definitely true, but this is a function over form scenario, I think.

  • Randy

    I’ve been trying Swinsian for a few days now, it works great for huge libraries. I think I like it more than Clementine.

    http://swinsian.com/

  • http://www.albertkinng.com Albert Kinng

    Well, I think… (And I know this maybe start some kind of fight between users) Apple needs to re-think how all of this “Media-related” apps will be presented on a Mac or iOS devices. Apple needs to do a standalone music player and a all inclusive store. The App Store should be named “The Apple Store” and you will find music, apps and videos in there. And iTunes should be iTunes as it was at first. A Music player. I mean I’ve been using Vox and I did not forget iTunes because I open it to some tasks I need when I’m working with my iDevices (jailbreaking and such). Seriously I love the New iTunes Look but I hate that it needs to be the media center store management at the same time.

    I will be happy with ONE store not TWO Stores inside my OS. Think about this: WHY??? Why two stores? Are we so dumb that if it’s doesn’t say Apps or Tunes we aren’t able to know what is selling??

    iTunes should be for Music Playing.

  • http://www.albertkinng.com Albert Kinng

    This is Vox if you wanted to know. http://voxapp.didgeroo.com

  • danny

    This app is pretty much what I’ve been looking for! I can manage my own music collection, add/subtract songs to/from my iPod, use sights like Spotify, Soundcloud and Jamendo and I have a billion radio stations at my disposal (not to mention I can add my own).

    Sure it doesn’t look the greatest but I couldn’t care less about looks, the functionality is excellent. A couple of tiny things I would like to see improved are the ability to add songs to your iPod, that isn’t the most simple process, and playback sometimes does a few tiny pops and skips. Other than that, Clemantine is awesome!

  • Coke

    I tried Clementine, Vox and a few others, but I always come back to iTunes. Some of these apps don’t seem to be actively updated, while others cost so much that they can’t beat free! Yes, I wish Apple made a standalone iTunes player, but until then, I am sticking with iTunes 11.0.2.

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