Cog: A Great iTunes Alternative For Mac OS X

After iTunes erroneously deleted my music collection a few years ago, I started looking for alternatives. Being a part-time Windows user, I had grown to love the simplicity of Winamp, with its file and folder based music management. Unfortunately there was no port available on OSX. Thankfully, I stumbled across a little open source project named Cog.

Cog is a lightweight music player,  which supports many audio file-types including MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, AAC, Apple Lossless, Musepack, Monkeys Audio, Shorten, Wavpack, Wave/AIFF and much more. It also offers HTTP streaming, as well as some neat features like gapless playback, support for Apple remotes, Last.fm integration and Growl notifications. Additionally, it lets you specify which audio output device to use, should you happen to have more than one.

The layout is as straightforward as they come. It has a window which serves as the playlist, into which you can drag and drop music from Finder or the “file drawer”. You are able to save and load playlists, and both m3u and pls formats are supported. There are also options to turn on shuffle and repeat as one would expect from any music player, and you are able to search the playlist to jump quickly to a specific file.

cog-controls

Some people find iTunes’ management of our music folders less than ideal, in the way that it reorganises and renames files and folders. As mentioned earlier, my music collection suffered a catastrophic setback a few years ago when iTunes decided to delete the entire collection of files. I was able to recover most of it, but needless to say I’ll never trust iTunes again. Thankfully, Cog takes a very hands-off approach to managing your music.

Cog has what it calls the “file drawer”, which is basically an integrated finder window attached to the main playlist window. The first thing you’ll need to do is specify which folder to use as the base for the file drawer in the application preferences, as per the image below.

cog-preferences1

Once you’ve done that and saved the preferences, just click the little folder icon on the top left and the file drawer will expand out. Adding music is then as simple as dragging and dropping folders or files from the drawer.

cog-mainwindow

Cog supports the Apple remote and also lets you specify shortcut keys in the preferences, under the “Hot Keys” tab.  It also offers full support for media keys, should your Mac keyboard have them. One issue you might run into, however, is that iTunes might also start when you use one of these keys. Thankfully, there is a solution. Simply download and install this little utility, and iTunes will no longer run when you hit one of the media keys –

All in all, if you’re looking for a music player that won’t chew up a lot of RAM and is fast and functional, Cog’s the app you’ve been waiting for.

You can find and download the latest release of Cog here.