Freedom from iTunes

Nine free downloads promise to help you get the most out of your iPod -- without iTunes.

Floola

If you want to free up space on your computer, this lightweight, open-source management application may be a good match. It performs virtually all of the functions of iTunes' management utilities, including importing music from your computer to your iPod, managing playlists, and deleting songs from the iPod. It doesn't require installation and can run from a thumb drive or from your iPod. Floola lets you manage your music, photos, videos, podcasts, and playlists, and convert video files to an iPod-compatible format. You can even upload videos from YouTube and MySpace to your iPod by entering the appropriate URL.

Though you can also use Floola as a media player, you probably wouldn't want it to be your primary player. Playback features are limited: There's no equalizer, and the volume controls don't offer much gradation.

Download Floola | Free

YamiPod

Another stand-alone program from Floola's creator, Yamipod lets you copy AAC and MP3 audio files to and from your iPod and PC. It includes support for playlists, importing and exporting files, Last.fm, and RSS and podcasts. Like Floola, Yamipod makes it easy to detect and remove duplicate tracks. It has a music player, too, but no equalizer. One design annoyance involves the arrangement of files in the interface; the album title, rather than the artist, is listed after the song title, which anyone accustomed to the old iTunes layouts will find counterintuitive. The program doesn't list genres either, which could make playlist-building more difficult.

Download YamiPod | Free

Sharepod

Since iTunes won't let you transfer your iPod's contents onto another PC, you need to go elsewhere for that ability. Enter Sharepod, a lightweight, minimalist program that doesn't require installation and lets you manage your library on your iPod through Windows Explorer. You can copy music, videos, and playlists from your iPod to your PC and import them into your iTunes library. Sharepod has a clean, intuitive interface; but unlike most of the programs on this list, it does not offer playback support.

Download Sharepod | Free

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Ginny Mies

PC World (US online)
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