Listen to Google Play Music on the Apple Mac

It may be heresy to suggest using another music service on the Apple Mac, but I have tried a few and Google Play Music is the one I am currently using. Here’s how to use it as your music player.

Years ago I ripped all my music CDs using iTunes and stored them on the Mac’s disk drive. In those days you had to plug your iPhone or iPad into the Mac and sync them and this transferred all the music to the iOS device.

Then iTunes Match came along and this enabled music to be matched in the cloud. Basically if you had the music on your Mac, it made the music available online. It could then be streamed to a Mac, iPhone or iPad over the internet.

There was no longer any need to store music on the Mac, iPhone or iPad, and it could all be streamed on demand over the internet.

I deleted all my music, which was fine because it was all online, and it regained many gigabytes of space on my Mac, iPhone and iPad. I hit a problem when I cancelled iTunes Match and the music I owned would not play. What's more, the files were no longer on the Mac’s disk. The iPhone or iPad and it would not download or stream from the music online because iTunes Match wasn’t enabled.

Fortunately, I had tried Google Play Music and uploaded all my music there too. It stores 50,000 tracks for free and then lets you stream them to any computer or device for free. It is a shame Apple doesn’t let you do this. Google Play Music and Apple iTunes Match do essentially the same thing, but Google doesn’t charge and Apple does.

This is one of the reasons I switched, although another is that I can stream music to Android devices as well as iOS devices. I move from computer to computer and device to device and Google Play Music is available everywhere I go, but Apple iTunes Match is not.

Google Play Music

If you want to upload your music library to Google Play Music, go to (Chrome is better than Safari), click the menu button in the top left corner and select Upload Music in the left panel.

An even better way is to install Music Manager, a utility for your Mac that uploads all your iTunes music library automatically in the background. It’s what I used to get all my CDs onto Google Music. (If you rip CDs you own there is no copy protection on the tracks, so they can be uploaded. See this Windows article.)

Go to the Chrome Web Store and add the Google Play Music app if you have not already done so.

Open a new tab to view your apps or enter chrome://apps and there is Google Play Music. Actually, there are two, at least in my Chrome browser. One opens a browser tab and displays Google Play Music, and the other opens a mini player window.

Click the Google Play Music icon to open the mini player window and you will see the icon appear in the Dock. Right click it, select Options, Keep in Dock. You now have a Dock icon to open the Google Play Music mini player. Chrome does not have to be running to use this.

Google Play Music

It displays dice in the middle with I’m feeling luck mix underneath. Click it and it selects a random track from your library and begins playing it. You can click it again to jump to a different track.

Google Play Music

There is a little arrow icon in the top right corner of the mini player. Click it and Chrome opens and shows your music library. You can select a track or a whole album and play it, then click Chrome and keep the mini player window open to play, pause, skip tracks and so on.

Google Play Music

It would be nice to be able to browse and select albums or tracks in the mini player, but the full browser window is needed. However, you can start a playlist playing in Chrome then close it and use the mini player controls to skip forward and backward through the list and play/pause tracks. There is a repeat button to start it again when it ends and a shuffle button to play the tracks in random order.

It may not be to everyone’s liking, but it is useful to know that there are options available outside of Apple’s music facilities. I find that Google Play Music works well on the Mac, iPhone and iPad, and I can use it on Windows and Android phones and tablets too.



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