Whether you’re a fan of podcasts, music, or just have a lot of little audio files that you’ve accumulated (from voice memos on an iPhone, for example), you may want to listen to those files without adding them to your iTunes Library. Today we’ll look at a few ways to do this.
Playing the files in iTunes without adding them to iTunes Library
Our first method involves using iTunes to play the audio file, but without adding the file to the iTunes Library. Here’s how to accomplish this task:
1) Launch iTunes on the Mac
2) In the Finder, locate the audio file you wish to listen to
3) Hold down the Option key on the Mac keyboard, then drag and drop the audio file into iTunes.
This process adds the audio file to the iTunes playlist for listening, but doesn’t copy the file to the iTunes media library. This works through the creation of an alias (soft link) between iTunes and the original location of the file on the Mac. At any time, it’s possible to remove the file from the iTunes playlist by right-clicking the “song”, then selecting Delete from Library from the pop-up menu. From the menu bar, this can be done by selecting Song > Delete from Library, or you can also highlight the file by clicking on it, then press the Delete key.
The next two methods are even better — they don’t use iTunes to play the file in the first place.
Use QuickTime Player on the Mac
QuickTime Player is one of the most versatile video and audio apps on the Mac, playing back a variety of file formats without needing to use iTunes. Let’s say you’ve shared a voice memo on your iPhone to your Mac using AirDrop. Here’s how you can listen to it in QuickTime, avoiding iTunes:
1) Launch QuickTime Player from the Applications folder
2) Drag and drop the audio file onto the QuickTime Player Dock icon or into the QuickTime app
3) Click the play button (it’s the right-facing triangle in the image below)
One useful thing to remember is that QuickTime Player lets you play your files in the background while other work is being done on the Mac. This can be useful if you need to manually transcribe a voice memo.
There another way to play audio files in QuickTime Player from the Finder: Right-click on the file, then select Open with QuickTime Player.
Use Quick Look on the Mac
The last method is even easier, and is perfect when you just need to listen to the sound file once.
1) From the Finder, locate the audio file you wish to listen to
2) Click once on the audio file to select it, then press the space bar on the Mac keyboard
3) The Quick Look preview window appears (see screenshot below) and plays the audio file automatically. Once again, you can quickly move to another window on the Mac to do work and Quick Look continues to play the audio file.
As with QuickTime Player, there’s another way to play audio files in Quick Look from the Finder: Select the file, then press Command-I (Get Info) on the keyboard. In the info window that appears, click the Play button listed under “Preview”.
There are other ways to play audio files on your Mac without using iTunes, including the use of free player apps like VLC or using the afplay command from Terminal. Do you have a preferred method of listening to audio files that doesn’t use iTunes? Let us know in the comments section.
Related: How to Move Your iTunes Library to an External Drive
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