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My favorite Mac apps: Music and Video Apps

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As we lead-up to Christmas (and other holidays that I don’t personally celebrate), I thought I’d put together a list of a few of my favorite things — Mac apps top be specific. These are some of my favorite music and video apps.

iTunes, iTunes Match, Last.fm, Spotify & Tracks

I’ve been using iTunes to manage my music since iTunes 4.1 came out for Windows in 2003. Prior to that, I had a folder of music organized alphabetically and used Winamp for playback. (If you’re still doing that in 2012, I’m judging you.)

I use iTunes to hold all of my music, movies, TV shows and digital books. With iTunes running on my home computer, I can stream all of my media to my Apple TV, iPads and iPhones, into every room of the house.

iTunes Match is awesome! If I’m walking through downtown Seattle and have my iPhone with me, I can listen to any song in my library. If I’m riding the bus to work, I can pull out my iPad, do some reading, and listen to any song in my library. If I get to work and open up iTunes, I can listen to any song in my library. It’s super-awesome!

I use Last.fm to take my listening habits and make recommendations for new music that I might like.

I’ve spent time with both Rdio and Spotify, and I ended up settling on Spotify as a way to supplement iTunes. I can check out entire albums before I decide to get them and put them into iTunes. It’s also good for music that I don’t want to clutter up my iTunes library with, such as tracks my Miley Cyrus that my daughter likes.

Tracks is a small utility that scrobbles the music I listen to into Last.fm, and adds keyboard commands for previous/next/pause/play controls.

MakeMKV, RipIt, Handbrake, Subler and MP4 Tools

I prefer for all of my video content to be in industry standard MP4/H.264/AAC formats. It’s also convenient that Apple TV, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, iPad, iPhone and my HP TouchPad running Android 4 can all play this format.

I use MakeMKV or RipIt to make personal backups of Blu-rays or DVDs (respectively) that I own. I use Handbrake to compress the source files from the disc into MP4/H.264/AAC files. I use Subler to lookup and write the correct metadata into the files (artwork, title, chapters, etc.). Subler is far superior to older apps such as AtomicParsley, Meta X or Meta Z.

If a movie spans multiple discs, or if I’ve managed to end up with a file in an MKV container or uses AC3 audio instead of AAC, I can use MP4 Tools to fix and/or merge them.

Once I load the resulting movie into iTunes, I can sync it to any of my devices to watch on-the-go, or stream it to any TV in the house with Apple TV.


Vuze is a powerful BitTorrent client. I have nothing else to say on this matter.


Max is a really great audio encoder. I often use it when a friend of mine gives me some FLAC files or WAVs and I want to turn them into MP3s at 320kbps.

Miro Video Converter

I typically use this tool when I’m putting video on my blog, and want to provide browser-native HTML5 formats. It’s also great for creating mobile-friendly versions of video files for the wide array of devices out there.

MusicBrainz Picard

Picard is a great tool for looking up the metadata for my music from the MusicBrainz service. It’s usually pretty good, and if it makes a mistake, you can easily correct it, save the changes, and load them into iTunes.


I use this for making iPhone ringtones out of tracks I have in iTunes.


VLC can play pretty much any video format. If I’m given an MKV file, a WMV file, and MPG file or something else, I can throw it into VLC and start watching it right away.

Ryan Parman

is an engineering manager with over 20 years of experience across software development, site reliability engineering, and security. He is the creator of SimplePie and AWS SDK for PHP, patented multifactor-authentication-as-a-service at WePay, defined much of the CI/CD and SRE disciplines at McGraw-Hill Education, and came up with the idea of “serverless, event-driven, responsive functions in the cloud” while at Amazon Web Services in 2010. Ryan's aptly-named blog, , is where he writes about ideas longer than . Ambivert. Curious. Not a coffee drinker.