Apple's legendary music player can make an uneasy PC companion - but there are some tools to make life easier.
If you have an iPod, chances are you've also installed iTunes and watched as it's collided with your music collection. But it doesn't have to be that way - no matter what Apple may have you believe, the two aren't joined at the hip.
But when it comes to value for money and sheer depth of features, it really is hard to beat MediaMonkey. It does much of what iTunes does but often better, with a music management, CD ripping and burning, audio conversion, playlist editing, track tagging, cataloguing, and automatic file renaming - as well as iPod synchronising. It will even look up your missing album artwork and track data, and third-party plug-ins can add sound processing to your mixes. The interface is intuitive and the software fast in operation. iTunes might be free, but it can't hold a candle to MediaMonkey in terms of power. A beta version for Vista users is available, as is a Gold upgrade for £10 that adds advanced searching and filtering, format conversion, 48x CD burning (compared to 4x in the free version) and no limit to MP3 encoding. In fact, the only real downside of the free version is the necessity to install a LAME MP3 encoder after 30 days. With all that in its favour, MediaMonkey is our pick of the bunch.