iTunes Extreme:  Killer Add-ons | iLounge Article


iTunes Extreme:  Killer Add-ons

Back in the early days of MP3, I used WinAMP as my primary media player.  While the focus of my experience was primarily on simply listening to my music, I did find quite a bit of enjoyment in using many of the (thousands of) add-ons that were available for it.  These included “skins” (which change the application’s appearance and/or interface), audio enhancers (which enhance the sound characteristics of the music), and visualizer plug-ins (which enable stunning visual art displayed in motion synchronized to the music).

While the number of third-party addons for iTunes does not even come close to those available for WinAMP even in it’s early days, there are several nifty add-ons available that the average iTunes user may be interested in.  As a basic introduction to these iTunes addons, this article will not be presented as an in-depth “how-to” article like most of the iPod 101/201 series, but instead will read more like a tour.  By focusing on breadth instead of depth, this article will present the reader with the features, prices, and locations of a large assortment of cool add-ons for both the Mac and PC iTunes user.  However, as a result of this shifted breadth/depth balance, the reader will be required to consult the website of each plug-in for specific instructions for installation and use—they will certainly differ for each item.

One last note:  You may notice that there are a few more plug-ins mentioned for the MacOS version of iTunes than for the Windows version.  Keep in mind, PC users, that iTunes has been around for years longer on the Mac than on the PC, and that more plugins are certainly coming your way as more developers jump on-board iTunes’ soaring popularity.

Without further (painful?) introduction, let’s get started;  we have a lot to cover!

Visualization Plug-ins


iTunes Vis - (Free and included, Mac/PC)

As many of you have likely already discovered, iTunes does include it’s own visualizer.  (To activate it, click the 8-point rose icon in the bottom right corner of the iTunes window)  However, many iTunes “power users” may find themselves looking for more features, more customization, and better graphics.  Luckily, however, there are quite a few excellent offerings in this category, many of them free!



WhiteCap - (Free, Mac/PC)

SoundSpectrum software offers iTunes users (Mac AND PC) two distinct visualization plug-ins.  Their first visualizer offering is WhiteCap

WhiteCap works some amazing visual wonders with wireframe “twists” on a spectrum analyzer.  WhiteCap’s wireframe designs bounce, as expected, to the music.  Pre-defined “scenes” of wireframe creations—flags, donut shapes, lips, volcanos, and dozens more—actually morph from one preset to the next - the effect is very neat.

WhiteCap is extremely customizable both to the individual’s aesthetic tastes and to the capabilities of their computer.  A “Gold” version of WhiteCap will soon be released, and will offer similar capabilities as “G-Force Gold” like Album Art display.



G-Force - (Free, Mac/PC)
G-Force Gold - ($10, Mac/PC)

SoundSpectrum’s second visualizer is G-Force, pictured above. 

G-Force is an incredibly popular (and generally gorgeous!) visualizer plug-in available for several media players.  G-Force improves upon WhiteCap’s wireframe simplicity, adding stunning and sophisticated visual effects—anti-aliasing, blurs, and massive particle motion.

G-Force Gold, available for $10, adds new effects, video recording, and album cover art display.



iGoom - (Free, Mac only)

iGoom is an open-source (and thus, free) visualization plug-in similar to G-Force.  I find it equally stunning to G-Force, and oftentimes better. 

At this point, iGoom is only available for Mac iTunes and non-iTunes Windows media programs.  A Windows iTunes version is supposedly in the works—keep an eye out.



GasLight - (Free, Mac only)

GasLight from Steel Skies software, also a Mac-only visualizer, is perhaps the most visually stunning visualization plug-in available for iTunes to date.  GasLight takes advantage of the fragment shaders built into advanced graphics cards and Panther’s OpenGL extensions to add some incredible glow, zoom, and blur effects to an otherwise fairly standard frequency spectrum analyzer. 

As a result, an ATI Radeon 9600-9800 or nVidia GeForceFX video card are required for the full effect.  MacOS X v10.3 (Panther) is required to use GasLight at all.

Audio Plug-ins



VolumeLogic - (Free, Mac/PC)

Currently the only significant iTunes audio enhancer add-on is VolumeLogic from Octiv Software.  Available for both Mac and PC as a $20 commercial product, VolumeLogic processes iTunes’ audio and makes it sound significantly better.

VolumeLogic’s audio output is customizable by Volume, Drive, and Bass Boost, and many preset configurations are available for various musical genres.

VolumeLogic’s devout users report significant increase in sound quality for small and large speakers, as well as headphones.  In our testing experience (there is a 12-day demo available), the difference was most profound when listening to our PowerBook’s small built-in laptop speakers.

Miscellaneous Add-ons



Multi-Plugin - (Free, PC only)

The iTunes “Multi-Plugin” developed by forum member “localhost” adds a plethora of features to the Windows version of iTunes 4.7.  In addition to “skinning” PC iTunes slightly to look more like the MacOS X version, the Multi-Plugin offers the following features:

  • Copies the name of the current song to the clipboard
  • Creates a file with the current song info
  • Changes iTunes’s window caption to “Artist - Song - iTunes” format
  • Minimize To Tray (Using less memory when in tray than iTunes’s own Minimize To Tray feature)
  • Control when iTunes will be Always-On-Top or not shown in the taskbar
  • Makes programs recognize iTunes as if it were Winamp
  • Makes ObjectBar recognize iTunes’s menu
  • Increased compatibility with multimedia keyboard media player control keys
  • Integration with EvilLyrics for finding a song’s lyrics
  • Replaces the font used in iTunes (Tahoma) with a font similiar to Lucida Grande.
  • Hides iTunes’s menu. You can still access it by pressing Alt+Down or by hovering the place where the menu was.

While many of these features require a bit of user creativity to actually find a use for (like the file created with song info), others may prove useful to the average user, like the aesthetic changes and lyrics intergration.


iTunes-LAME - (Free, Mac only)

iTunes-LAME from popular MacOS developer Blacktree, Inc. integrates the well-renowned high quality MP3 encoder known as LAME into the iTunes interface. 

This small software package, which is free of charge, places direct access to a customizable LAME encoder into the “Script Menu” atop a Mac iTunes.  The encoder will import audio tracks using the widely popular “—alt-preset standard,” “—alt-preset extreme,” or “—alt-preset insane” configuration options, or using any of an infinite number of combinations of bitrate, verbosity, and dozens of other power-user options.



Clutter - (Free, Mac only)

Clutter from Sprote Rsrch is a unique freeware MacOS iTunes add-on.  Clutter enables the user to see their albums—represented by the cover art either stored in iTunes or found via Clutter’s built-in Amazon search—scattered across their desktop.

The effect is quite neat.  With digital music, we often neglect album art and the “feel” of normal albums (despite iTunes’ Album Art features).  Clutter works to bring back at least a bit of the sense of physical CDs by allowing the covers to be the primary way of selecting the music to listen to.  Simply drag the album art out of Clutter’s main window onto the desktop, resize it as you wish, and it becomes a floating button to play that album… neat!

In addition, Clutter’s automatic album art fetching functionality helps Mac users populate their iTunes library with album art with little effort!

Quick Mentions


  • MyTunes Redux - Donationware - Search and download music shared through iTunes’ Rendezvous Sharing
  • iTunes XHTML Playlist - Freeware - Export your iTunes Library into a great-looking website!
  • iTunes Controller - Donationware - Control iTunes from a tiny, streamlined window.


  • iTunes XHTML Playlist - Freeware - Export your iTunes Library into a great-looking website!
  • Synergy - $7.00 - Add feature-rich iTunes controls to the MacOS Finder’s Menu Bar.
  • ByteController - Freeware - Similar to Synergy, but fewer features—and free!

This list of iTunes add-ons is a compilation of the plug-ins that I have found most useful or noteworthy in my time with iTunes, but by no means is this list comprehensive.  Let this compilation of add-ons be an inspiraton for your independent searches… a plethora of add-ons (especially visualizers) exist for the Mac platform, and several others can be found for Windows! 

Want to see more plug-ins available (especially Windows users) ?  Write your favorite freeware plug-in developers and let them know how much you appreciate their work!  Donate even a small amount of money to show your appreciation and encourage future work… freeware developers thrive on compliments, constructive criticism, and donations!

Enjoy enhancing your iTunes experience… make it yours!

(Feel free to share your favorite add-ons below!)


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great article, I hope we’ll see more advanced/interesting articles in the future. Good work

Posted by Nuke666 in TX on November 29, 2004 at 5:11 AM (CST)


I would like to see somthing like Synergy just for PC :) plz ;)..!

Posted by Gentleman_finn in TX on November 29, 2004 at 7:08 AM (CST)


Since I don’t have a favorite freeware programmer, I will encourage any of you to become one.  I would really like some more of the basic windows/office functions to be present in itunes.  For example, right-click menus should include things like copy, move, paste, perhaps the ability to highlight many albums in your library and, say, uncheck just the highlighted ones.  Also it would be nice to tell how much space is used by checked songs as well as how much space is in the library overall.  Currently I have a playlist of unchecked songs, and I have to make sure that my library minus the unchecked playlist is less than or equal to 18.5gb (20gb 4g).  Automatically performing these (albeit simple) functions would save a lot of time when managing a library that is larger than the capacity of the ipod.

Posted by tension in TX on November 29, 2004 at 9:32 AM (CST)


If it wasn’t immediately obvious, the above post was intended for those of us that use a windows pc for itunes.

Posted by tension in TX on November 29, 2004 at 9:33 AM (CST)


Jerrod, you forgot to mention much about getting cover art for iTunes.  Here is one great free plug-in option - iTunes Art Importer 0.9.2 available at  Although listed as for iT 4.5-4.6 it works just fine in iT 4.7.  It uses the same UI as iT and works very very well for finding those covers that are missing in small or large collections.

Also I should add that the Volume Logic is an excellent audio plug also (it really shines in making 50’s though 90’s music sound more crisp and dynamic).

Posted by jpt1 in TX on November 29, 2004 at 10:38 AM (CST)


No manual control of visualizer? Manual control can be found through the keyboard while in visualizer mode. The simplest one is to hit the R key whenever you want to change the pattern. If you press the C key it will display the current forground, background, and color settings. The Q and W keys cycle through foreground patterns, the A and S keys cycle the background pattern, and the Z and X keys cycle the colors. The M key toggles through user controlled user controlled configed shows, freezes current config, and random. If you want to save a user config that you like just hit shift and any number key then when that number key brings up that config. Press M to go to user config mode and it will now cycle through user presets.

Posted by BigFil in TX on November 29, 2004 at 10:43 AM (CST)


The article was a great primer for getting started with add-ons ...... it was very useful. Thanks

Posted by flatliner in TX on November 29, 2004 at 10:55 AM (CST)



My obvious (and embarrassing?!) error.  Thanks for the correction.

Not to downplay my error, but it remains that the add-on visualizers greatly improve upon the built-in visualizer in terms of fine manual control.  ;-)

Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on November 29, 2004 at 11:35 AM (CST)


If you guys like the plug-ins mentioned in the article then you’ll probably like KALIEDOSTROBE as well give it at spin. download it from version tracker, or try this link:

Posted by amp in TX on November 29, 2004 at 12:07 PM (CST)


Here’s another good pluggin’ you might want to try out it’s called LED spectrum analyzer, click on the link to download:

Posted by amp in TX on November 29, 2004 at 12:14 PM (CST)


myTunes sounds exactly like what I was looking for.  My Girlfriend and I recentley bought iPods.  I have ripped half of our CD Collection and rip about 5-10 CD’s per day.  Since our CD’s are a shared collection, we both are covered under fair use.  I want to save her time by having her just copy the music I ripped insteaad of ripping it to her computer herself.  Problem is that she currently has to do it through windows network shares, and then have iTunes research her music folder.

Will myTunes also add downloaded music to your library?

Posted by DRock80 in TX on November 29, 2004 at 12:39 PM (CST)


Nice. Here are 5 more iTunes add-on apps (for Mac):

* AskTheDJ. A very cool live-DJ app (suitable for pros? I wouldn’t know) that runs your iTunes library with a neat interface that looks (optionally) like a big photographic CD sitting on your screen—you drag the songs around the label. And it beat-matches tracks and overlaps play like a DJ! Animated effects too… basically loaded with features. It can even auto-detect and export BMP data to iTunes tags! Now you can have automatic playlists on your iPod for fast and slow songs :) (I haven’t yet tried the version that does that.)

* FetchArt (more automated than Clutter last i checked—but Clutter does more and has a much higher success rate of finding art—it’s still my art app of choice)

* ITMS Extractor to make saving videos easier.

* PTHiTunesNotifier (compact menu-bar remote, with highly-customizable animated now-playing pop-ups).

* You Control: iTunes. Fancier version of the above, some features added, some removed. I like PTH better—if you can find it.


* Lots of other remote apps. Like ControlTunes, Synergy (, and various Konfabulator widgets. I’v never tried most of them but they look cool (and Konfab has finally come to Windows).

* There’s a Konfab widget that displays lyrics for the current song. It can even (attempt to) scroll them in time with the music.

* G-Force and WhiteCap have a Mac app for saving the visualizer effects as a QuickTime movie. Bound to be some fun there with iMovie and GarageBand.

And here are some other Visualizer plug-ins that I have installed (for Mac):

* LED Spectrum Analyzer (I like this one set to full screen with bright colors)

* Fountain Music (hit Plus a few times to get big lava-lamp style balls)

* Volcano Kit

* Fractogroovalicious

* TechRTA

* Fielder - shows some nice stereo effects sometimes.

* Collage - scans the ‘net for images relevant to the song. Cool idea.

* Jacket. Probably the simplest one—but it shows FULL-SIZE ALBUM ART, scaled for wide or normal displays. Big info text too. Great run to TV from a laptop!

* Easy View. Big info text, very customizable—even animated.

I know I have one or two more visualizers, but not on this computer. BTW this page lists visualizers (not all of them)—for both Windows and Mac:
(Jacket is first.)

Posted by Nagromme in TX on November 29, 2004 at 1:15 PM (CST)


And two entirely other categories of iTunes apps:

1. Speech-synth apps that put text-content into iTunes. Read It To Me is one, but I think there are several. Some work with RSS, and some just with any old text content. Hey, why not?

2. “PodCast” apps. You can listen to RSS broadcasts with just iTunes—the iPod part is optional.

And I suppose the various apps for getting music between iPod and iTunes count as iTunes add-ons too.

There’s really a LOT out there when you look around!

Posted by Nagromme in TX on November 29, 2004 at 1:41 PM (CST)



An excellent supplemental list.  Indeed, with a little searching, one can find lots of very cool stuff!

Although I was trying not to make our PC friends feel “left out” by listing a bazillion cool Mac-only items, you’ve done an excellent job at that.  ;-)

Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on November 29, 2004 at 2:03 PM (CST)



i’m all over the other visualizers since you said they have even more control then the default ones do. More control and different looks can only be good right. Thanks for the info and spreadin the goodies.

Posted by BigFil in TX on November 29, 2004 at 3:54 PM (CST)


Some of the ones I listed have Windows versions, I’m sure :)

Best vis has to be G-Force if you only download one. Much like iTunes’ own (which was based on it), but more variety and options (like higher res and native widescreen). It lacks album art, though, so I still like the built-in version. (Plus Apple’s controls are very simple—I like storing visualizer presets and then shuffling them.)

Posted by Nagromme in TX on November 29, 2004 at 4:27 PM (CST)


Can’t seem to get clutter to work with 10.3.6. I click on it and it looks to open but then disappears out of the Dock. Anyone else having this problem?

Posted by Blue_Dawg in TX on November 29, 2004 at 10:16 PM (CST)


Another one I just saw: this looks to offer very nice lyrics integration with both iTunes and iPod:

Posted by Nagromme in TX on November 29, 2004 at 11:01 PM (CST)


I would recommend “You Control Tunes” for the Mac users. It puts a set of customizable controls (back, forward, stop/play, and menu) in the menu bar at the top of your screen, and allows you to use iTunes without ever seeing the iTunes program! It also pops up a customizable window allowing you to see the album art, name, etc. with whatever settings you desire. Finally, it will scroll the song information in your menu bar while playing, at your option. I use this as my primary control for iTunes, and it’s great.  One more thing: The menu button opens a menu that gives you access to your music by name, genre, album, or whatever you choose. It’s truly a great prog for the Mac iTunes user, and well worth the small shareware price.

Posted by Wilder_K_Wight in TX on November 30, 2004 at 1:50 AM (CST)


Hi guys,
I am looking for a plugin that will automatically tag my songs, I am using PC.

Thanks all.

Posted by mos86 in TX on November 30, 2004 at 5:39 AM (CST)

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