Nine New Tweaks for Songbird--the Best iTunes Alternative!


Are you sick of using iTunes?  We don't blame you.  The program eats up resources and makes us scratch our heads with its "Genius" recommendations, and we're ready to throw out display through the wall every time the Apple Software Updater tells us that there's a new version of Safari out. Arrgh!

Before our inner Hulk gets both mad and strong, we've taken a look at alternatives to the popular music library software.  As luck would have it, we stumbled across an open-source solution that's every bit as good (and functional!) as iTunes.  Better still, it comes without all of the clutter!  You might have heard of the application before--it's called Songbird, an open-source music library application straight from Mozilla itself.  But what you might not be aware of is the sheer depth of functionality (and dare we say it, iTunes replication) inherent in the program itself.  And we're going to show you the top nine ways to tweak this application to bits and make it do exactly what you want, including features you'll never find in iTunes!


Before you can install the extensions, you need the application. One of the beautiful parts about Songbird is that the program plays well with your iTunes the second it's installed. The first time you run Songbird, the application will not only prompt you to import your entire library from iTunes, but it'll also set itself up to scan your music folder for any changes (just in case you feel like keeping the ol' Apple app around).  The program also prompts you to install a few helpful addons, including iPod support and Quicktime functionality!  But enough of that.  Let's start tweaking!


Look familiar?  That's because MediaFlow is a carbon-copy of iTunes's cover flow feature.  Instead of browsing through your music library using boring ol' text, you can find the album of your choice by surfing over to its picture.  Neat, eh?

The Exorcist

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to sift through your music library and find space-stealing duplicates of songs you alredy have.  Or worse, it sticks to go to play a song only to realize that it exists as a reference in your library, but not as a tangible file on your PC.  The Exorcist solves both of these problems.

Flickr Extension

Want to enrich the multimedia capabilities of your music experience?  Flickr Extension pulls up targeted images of the very bands you're listening to from this popular photo-hosting service. The extension isn't perfect, but it sure beats staring at lists of song files instead!

Live Tweeter

If you're the kind of person who needs to keep your friends updated about your musical tastes every possible second , then Live Tweeter is your salvation.  It updates MSN Messenger, Pidgin, IRC, Twitter, and other services with each song that pops up in Songbird.  Remember this next time you feel the urge to fire up Rick Astley's Greatest Hits.

Divided Tag Cloud

For a different, and in many ways more organized way to browse through your many music files, use a tag cloud.  Divided Tag Cloud, specifically.  Just pick the letter and you'll receive a large listing of all artists, songs, or albums that fit, with all the titles appearing in an easy-to-click clumping.


Wake up.  If you're sick of listening to the buzz of your alarm clock (or keeping with the theme of this article, tower bells on your iPhone), then use MorningPeeps to turn Songbird into a wake-up utility.  Just set the time and the dates, and prepare to wake up to the awesome instrumental opening riff of "The Final Countdown"--or any other song you choose.


Ok, ok.  We understand that getting rid of your iTunes is a big first step.  Wean yourself off of your application dependence by using this iTunes theme overtop your Songbird application.  It makes the entire program look like good ol' iTunes, yet you'll still be treated to all the limitless functionality Songbird offers in the meantime.  This sure beats our iTunes 12-step program!

Directory Browser

Alright you meticulous one, you.  Suppose your ID3 tags are all messed up and you've instead decided to organize your music by a good ol' fashioned directory tree.  Surfing for this music is going to be a royal pain in Songbird... unless you use Directory Browser, which lets you navigate to your songs in the application as if you were navigating through a simple Windows Explorer interface.


This one's simple, but awesome.  Opacity adds, well, an opacity setting to the Songbird mini-player.  This allows you to make the little bar transparent when you're using your machine normally--a nice aesthetical touch for your desktop.  Move your mouse over the mini-player and voila! The transparency goes away.

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