How to Play Music on a Mac

Introduction

There are many options when it comes to playing and streaming music on your Apple Mac computer. Today's guide will go over the options your machine comes with out-of-the-box for your media playback needs.

This guide only specifically goes over built-in options that your Apple Mac computer comes equipped with out of the box. It will also touch upon 3rd party options that are very popular amongst users. All 3rd party options are a matter of preference and opinion and must be added to the machine.

Stock photo of an Apple Macbook.

? What would you like to stream from?

  1. iTunes
  2. Something else

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There are many options when it comes to playing and streaming music on your Apple Mac computer. Today's guide will go over the options your machine comes with out-of-the-box for your media playback needs.

This guide only specifically goes over built-in options that your Apple Mac computer comes equipped with out of the box. It will also touch upon 3rd party options that are very popular amongst users. All 3rd party options are a matter of preference and opinion and must be added to the machine.

Stock photo of an Apple Macbook.

iTunes is a media player made by Apple that is used for playing digital music or video files. It is the default music playback software built into the Apple operating system and is standard on all Apple Mac computers.
Stock photo of an Apple Macbook computer with the iTunes logo on the screen.

To add items from your computer to your iTunes library:

Method #1:

  • Drag a file or folder from the Finder to the iTunes window.
    Screenshot of the iTunes interface depicting a music file being dragged over into it.

If you add a folder, all the files it contains are added to your library.

Method #2:

  • In iTunes, choose File, then Add File to Library or Add Folder to Library. Then, locate the file or folder you wish to add from the pop-up window.
    Screenshot of the iTunes interface highlighting the file menu having been clicked, with the add file and add folder to library options highlighted.
To play a song in your iTunes library, double-click it, or select it and click the Play button. You can use the controls in the iTunes window to repeat songs, change the order they play in, and more.

Screenshot of the iTunes interface highlighting the shuffle, repeat, and song progress bar.

To shuffle or repeat songs:

  • Turn shuffle on or off: Click the Shuffle button.
  • Shuffle is on when a gray box appears.
  • Shuffle albums or groupings: Choose Controls > Shuffle > Albums (or Groupings). iTunes plays the songs in the order in which they appear on the album or in the grouping, and then chooses another album or grouping at random.
  • Shuffle the songs in an album: Click Shuffle below the album art.
  • Repeat all songs in the current view (for example, a playlist): Click the Repeat button. Repeat is on when a gray box appears.
  • Repeat the currently playing song: Click the Repeat button until the number 1 appears.
  • Turn repeat off: Click the Repeat button until the gray box no longer appears.
There are a number of third party options for playing and streaming music. Some of these options are web-based streaming services that you can access via any web browser using an internet connection. Other options are software-based, meaning you will have to install them onto your Apple Mac computer in order to use them.
  • YouTube is a free video sharing website that makes it easy to watch online videos. You can even create and upload your own videos to share with others.
    Web browser that has navigated to the YouTube website.
     
  • Pandora is a free streaming music service that creates personalized "radio" stations based on an artist or song that you like. Once you have indicated a "seed" song or artist, Pandora gathers songs with similar qualities to play.
    Web browser that has navigated to the Pandora website.
     
  • SoundCloud is a social music platform that anyone can use to share and listen to music for free. If you’re already familiar with other popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter, you can think of SoundCloud as a similar type of service, but for music enthusiasts of all kinds.
    Web browser that has navigated to the Soundcloud website.
     
  • Bandcamp is an online music store as well as a platform for artist promotion that many independent artists are using to sell their music and merchandise direct to consumers in digital and physical formats.
    Web browser that has navigated to the Bandcamp website.
  • Spotify is like a jukebox you only need to feed once, or a radio that plays what you want in between ads. Spotify’s music library contains everything from mainstream pop hits to obscure death metal classics.
    Screenshot of the Spotify application.

  • VLC Media Player is a free and open source media player. VLC is a portable multimedia player, encoder, and streamer supporting many audio and video codecs and file formats as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.
    Screenshot of the VLC Player application.

  • Amazon offers free music streaming with Prime, a paid music service for an additional monthly fee, direct MP3 sales, a way to get MP3s when you purchase audio CDs, and a music locker you can upload your own songs to.
    Screenshot of the Amazon Music application.
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