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,, 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, but you can search for and subscribe to all of your podcasts. In Clementine’s preferences you’ll log into your 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.


Nice music player with lots of extra features.