Google Play Music is one of my favorite music services. While it isn’t quite the social powerhouse that some other platforms are, on a purely-music basis, it offers the same value proposition as Spotify Premium with the added bonus of YouTube RED benefits.
In addition, GPM allows you to upload your own music to Google’s cloud servers to listen to and stream on any device. Long before I ever decided to take the plunge for Play Music’s premium model, it was my favorite music service for that reason.
However, it doesn’t come without its downsides. On weaker computers multitasking with GPM in the background can be a problem since you’re typically required to run Chrome or another fully-fledged browser to access your music on your desktop.
Local music players do much better for performance in that manner.
But what if there were a way to access your Google Play Music library from your desktop?
Installation and Setup
Meet the Google Play Music Desktop Player, or GPMDP for short.
It is quite the mouthful, isn’t it?
As far as setting up GPMDP, you don’t have too much to worry about. Just download and run the installer (it is cross-platform compatible), which will bring you to this page.
Fortunately for you, all you need to do is sign in using your Google Account information. Once you’re in, you’ll come across a fairly familiar sight: a window that looks nearly exactly like the stock Google Play Music window.
Scroll down, however, and you just might find a difference.
Right above where Settings usually is in the sidebar is a new button: desktop settings. From here, you’ll get into the better functionalities of the program, but more on that in the review.
I installed this application a few days before writing this review. Since GPM is my primary source of music, I chose to use it as my main music player for a few days to set up proper impressions of it.
Unfortunately, I came across a host of issues. Creating big playlists was difficult since there was no back button to use as in a proper browser, even with my mouse buttons. Inexplicably, Spacebar didn’t pause the music.
These are both big issues I felt like I needed to point out in the review The day I started writing it, the above list of patch notes came out, and in one fell swoop most of my main issues with the program disappeared.
You know a dev is good if they fix your problems within a few days without you having said anything. That aside, let’s get into what really sets this desktop player apart.
First, the customization. Using the Desktop settings I was able to enable a Dark theme that better fit my Windows setup and allowed my album artwork to pop more. Being able to select a Theme highlight color was a nice touch, too, and I don’t really have much to complain about on this front.
Voice Controls, however, didn’t seem to work for me. I couldn’t figure out what the Playback API did, either.
Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of Last.fm. I can’t say too much on this feature, as this isn’t a service I use, but from what I’ve seen around, the plugin does what it’s meant to: shows what you’ve been listening to on Google Play Music.
Hotkeys are fun. I wasn’t able to really make usage out of these, as I’m a gamer with a whole bunch of keys being used already (and I prefer to listen to music while gaming), but the ability to hotkey program functionalities is something I love in any media player.
Except VLC. I inexplicably accidentally hit a hotkey every time I use that program and have to scramble to figure out how to reverse whatever it is I did. Don’t make my mistakes.
Overall, the Google Play Music Desktop Player is a significant upgrade from opening it in your browser. It launches faster than my installation of Chrome with a pinned tab of GPM, and while I can’t measure performance exactly, I do feel that it is much more lightweight than running a full browser in the background of whatever else you’re doing.
I say give it a shot. If you have tried it or have other recommendations, tell me what you think below!