Clementine: A Nice, Simple, Cross-Platform Way to Listen to Music

screenshot of Clementine in Linux

I have no idea when I started using Clementine. I thought it’s something I picked up from Xubuntu, but going through my notes, I was thinking of Exaile. But at some point, I decided I like Clementine as my music player.

I don’t play much music on my computer, so day-to-day, having a preferred music player didn’t have much impact on my life. However, a few weeks ago my wife got very sick of iTunes and wanted to find a replacement. I sent her this article and then started wondering which Linux music players had Windows ports. I discovered Banshee, Amarok, and Clementine all had Windows ports, so I recommended those to my wife (I just now realized Exaile has a Windows port, too).

Around the same time, I realized I needed a music player on a Windows machine, so I decided to try Clementine, which is when I discovered (or possibly rediscovered) it’s a very impressive piece of software.

For most people, the issue with iTunes is how big it is. Opening it can often feel like a huge, resource-intensive commitment (that and it always seems to require an update — even after you’ve just updated it). The beauty of Clementine is that it’s light and responsive. You open it and can play music right away. It does one thing well.

Clementine’s simplicity is what I love. It plays music. It’s easy to change songs. It does some nice, little things, too. It doesn’t just stop playing, but fades in and out of songs, which is kind of classy. On Windows, if you mouse over it on the taskbar, you get the play/pause/control buttons, so you don’t even need to click into the interface to do things.

Screenshot of Clementine controls on Windows

It also has some built-in integration with some web-based services, like Last.FM. My OpenSUSE version is running 0.7.1, so I don’t have Google Drive, Spotify or GrooveShark integration, which is available in 1.1. I have those features available within Windows, but it doesn’t interest me, so I don’t miss it (or try and find a more recent version than lives in the OpenSUSE repos).

People seem a bit excited about the new GNOME default music player. I’ll definitely look at that, but I really like to just have a list of artists in one pane, and the songs in another. What’s even nicer about Clementine is you can drill down through individual songs on the left pane, with the main pane acting as a playlist. Playlists are retained across sessions, so you can pick up where you left off.

Most user interfaces favor complexity and customization. Too many tools are afraid to go simple. Clementine isn’t. It’s not robust, but that lack of robustness is a feature. Just point it to your music folder and let it go. It doesn’t matter if you’re on Linux, Windows or OS X. Or all three. Clementine lets you listen to music easily, without slowing your computer down. Sad to say, it’s a rare trait in many desktop music players.

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