Queue Up Your Tunes with Enqueue

When iTunes was first released, it quickly impressed users with its intuitive interface and extensive feature list, soon becoming the standard music app not only for Mac users, but many Windows users as well. Though it started out strong, the constant addition of new features and subsequent decreases in performance have left many dissatisfied users complaining of sluggishness and feature bloat.

Enqueue is one of several new apps attempting to offer an alternative to iTunes for frustrated Mac users, offering a simplified experience, better performance, and improved features. Let’s find out if it delivers!

First Thing’s First:

Enqueue is not a replacement for iTunes: it won’t sync your music to your iPod, it won’t connect you to the iTunes store, it won’t support AirPlay or iTunes Match, and because Apple keeps these features to themselves, you’re stuck with iTunes if you want them. Enqueue is an app purely meant for playing music on your Mac, and I’ll evaluate it as such.

Getting Started with Enqueue

Since we all manage our music through iTunes, we’re going to need to grab songs from the iTunes library. When you first open up Enqueue, you’re offered the option to import your music from iTunes, add files manually, or ‘watch’ folders. The iTunes import is surprisingly quick and painless, and can be updated at any time from Preferences.

Thanks, I'll take option 1!

Thanks, I'll take option 1!

Monitored folders is also a handy feature, it allows you to set a folder destination for your new music, and Enqueue will add new files from this folder to its library. Again, you can add new folders to be monitored at any time from Preferences.

Interface

Enqueue features a customizable browser that allows you to browse your music by genre, artist, album, or title, and gives you an option of two main browser layouts: the default has a three-pane drill-down browser at the top, or you can switch to a 2-pane browser where the left panel lists genre, artists, albums or composers, and the right panel lists tracks (you can also choose to show tracks by album). All these options can be configured from the View menu. Enqueue also has an option for full-screen mode in Lion if you’re into that.

Interface with browser on the left and view as album list selected

Interface with browser on the left and view as album list selected

Queue it up

Unlike iTunes, where you select one track, album, or playlist to listen to, Enqueue lets you create a queue of the next tracks you want listen to with a simple drag-and-drop interface. You can drag a track, album, artist, or genre to the queue panel on the far left of the interface to add it to you lineup, or double-click a track to add the entire list it is displayed in to your queue (e.g. the ‘Pop/Rock’ genre or a specific artist or album). A music queue, created on the fly without the commitment of a playlist, is a simple, intuitive idea that’s been adopted by a number of new music players, and once you’ve used it you’ll wonder why iTunes never came up with it.

The queue shows songs and the albums they belong to

The queue shows songs and the albums they belong to

 

If you’ve created a queue worth keeping, you can save it as a playlist from the gear menu at the top of the queue.

Listening to Music

Enqueue features a smaller mini-player showing only the queue and playback controls (Shift + Cmd + M) and you can also control playback from any app using customizable global keyboard shortcuts. I liked the default Ctrl + Alt + Cmd shortcut prefix because you can hit it with one hand and minimal accuracy. As you go through your queue, Enqueue will display growl notifications when the track changes so you know where you’re at.

Enqueue mini player

Enqueue mini player

Enqueue gives you equalizer control with the option to save your custom settings, though it doesn’t have many useful pre-set equalizer settings.

Keeping Track

You can take a look at your listening history from the History tab, where your top artists and songs, and recently played or added songs are displayed in a subtly attractive table.

The data from iTunes wasn't quite accurate

The data from iTunes wasn't quite accurate

You can also keep track of your listening habits using last.fm by connecting your account through Preferences. Last.fm integration is seamless, and doesn’t require you to download the client.

Conclusion

Enqueue isn’t alone in the field of minimal music players, but its intuitive interface and customizable view options make it a strong competitor. Sonora shares the queue feature and minimalism, but I find the focus on browsing by album to be inflexible. Ecoute is an iTunes-integrated, standalone app with a very minimal interface, but lacks the queue feature that makes Enqueue and Sonora so handy, and the interface can seem a bit ‘dumbed down’.

My biggest grippe about Enqueue (and about an increasing number of apps theses days) is that it’s exclusively available on the app store, meaning there’s no free trial, and there’s more pressure on me to write a thorough review! So here’s my conclusion: Enqueue does what it does very well. It does not, and never will, sync with your iPod, or support iTunes Match or AirPlay. However, if you regularly play your music from your Mac, and are looking for a more streamlined and efficient experience than iTunes can offer, I can confidently recommend Enqueue. It’s a solid app with a well-thought-out experience and enough flexibility to suit most users.

How do you play music on your Mac? Are you happy with iTunes or are you losing patience with each update? I’m sure I’ve missed plenty of alternative music players, let’s hear about them in the comments!


Summary

Enqueue is a minimalistic music player for your Mac featuring song queueing, last.fm integration, and intuitive browsing.

9
  • Jeremy

    Used this during the beta and bought it on the App Store. Very nice, and simple. I love it.

  • Michael Solis

    I bought from the MAS after I used it for a few months during the beta phase. I really love it. I think Sonora is also a great app too that will get a lot of people when it comes out to the MAS. I think if these two apps keep doing well, iTunes will begin to diminish in strength in regards to being the go-to app for people who want to listen to their music.

  • http://moneyguyzack.blogspot.com Zack Jones

    Pick Up The Pieces — Average White Band. Wow that brings back some memories. They can thank you for the sale because it’s downloading in iTunes now. :)

    • Tessa Thornton

      haha glad to hear it :)

  • Gabriel

    iTunes has had a queuing option forever. Right click on any album, track, or selection of tracks, and select “Add to iTunes DJ”. Done. This app is hereby rendered… pointless?

    If you want it to play right after what’s currently playing, just select “Play next in iTunes DJ”.

    • Jeremy

      Rather iTunes has this option or not, it doesn’t make iTunes a lightweight music player, only. That’s what a lot of people want. Personally, i open iTunes when i want to buy something, sync something, or search for something. I don’t like having iTunes open JUST to listen to music. It’s not the huge memory hog people make it out to be, but if there are lighter weight options, i’m going to use them.

    • sheryl

      Bleh. I hate how iTunes DJ works. It’s basically just shuffle that you can add songs to. Sometimes I just wanna listen to a few songs and be done with it.

      iTunes does too much though and it’s cluttered. I hid everything and disabled the store (I use amazon b/c they have sales) and that makes it more usable, but I’ve been using Sonora because I like that last.fm is built in.

  • http://www.devolute.net Ian P

    Enqueue has really changed the way I use my Mac. iTunes was totally unusable so I used Vox to play my music. It’s a great app, but it’s not really meant for libraries. The open beta was a great model. The odd bug here and there but it was pretty solid throughout and buying it on the day of launch was a no-brainer.

    Ecoute is well designed, but dependence on the iTunes library is a real disadvantage.

  • z.theil

    Does Enqueue support Airport Express?

    • replicant

      Should be able to use Airfoil to handle airplay related activities from any app on your mac out to your various airplay devices.

  • rob

    it takes 2,8 % of cpu usage while itunes often arrives to 100% and freeze the mac
    I think it’s reason enough to prefer it.

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