One of an increasing plethora of applications that promise to organise your music collection, MediaMonkey has one major factor in its corner: it’s free (although there’s also a Gold Edition, which we’ll come to shortly). Oh, and it’s small, too, weighing in at just over 6MB for the initial download. For anyone who’s done battle with lumpy, sizeable alternatives, that alone will come as a blessed relief.
Upon installation and running for the first time, MediaMonkey does what most of its ilk do: it scans your hard drive – and any other discs you nominate – and goes hunting for media. It also offers to associate itself with the usual array of file types, which gives a clue to the extensive format support (right down to OGG) that MediaMonkey has built in.
As part of the hard drive search, incidentally, MediaMonkey will also import ratings and information from other players. It picked up Windows Media Player 11 on our test machine with no fuss, and absorbed the information it found.
It then organises your music automatically into logical folders, covering Artist, Location, Title, Genre, Year and so on. There are enough classifications within the program to organise your music by a variety of methodologies, and MediaMonkey happily sorts things into appropriate folders via its initial scan of your system.
As you’d expect, you can also add tags (and the software offers to autotag by filename or via the Web), download album information from the Freedb service and play and burn your music from within the application itself. This it does with a slimline efficiency that you can’t help but admire. Yet it’s the level of detail that MediaMonkey goes into that earns it our praise.
What’s going to make the software especially useful to many is the way that it seamlessly syncs with portable music players such as the iPod (although we do read in online discussion forums that there are problems with certain iPod models); from there, for instance, you can import an iTunes playlist with minimal hassle.
The software now features podcast management, whereby you can manage your subscriptions and MediaMonkey will keep them fully up to date for you. Again, it’s simplicity itself.
There’s a difference between the free version of MediaMonkey and the Gold Edition; the latter attracts a charge as you’d expect, and accounts for a few greyed-out areas in the no-cost edition. These features include some advanced sync and search options, unlimited MP3 encoding and a file monitor.
The basic edition does well enough, but given the $20 charge for the Gold edition – not far off a tenner on current rates – it’s a small price to pay for such a useful application. Because Media Monkey is fast, useful, packed with features and a real asset for any digital music lover. It’s not leaving our test system in a hurry.