I'm looking for something, preferably free, to play MP3s in OS X in a way they don't automatically get dumped into iTunes. Any suggestions?

Songbird is not lightweight.

VLC I use for videos.


If you prefer a dedicated app rather than use Quick Look, check Vox, the lightweight music app for Mac OS X.
It's free but you can donate.

  • It is perfect!! – iddober May 25 '11 at 12:59
  • Didn't know about this! Great! I'll be using this – Muhammad Usman May 26 '11 at 22:03
  • vox does not work currently with 10.8.1 unfortunately. Just putting it out there. – John Riselvato Oct 18 '12 at 17:50
  • Whats happened to the Vox link? – cwiggo Oct 5 '15 at 13:57
  • I'd say that Vox is not lightweight. It requires you to make playlists instead of just playing all the highlighted files. Most of the time I just want to play a few songs (organized in folders) without searching through the thousands in my playlist. – Scott Biggs Jan 16 '17 at 6:06

Quicktime player. Quicktime player.

  • 1
    Just did a quick test playing a 44mb mp3 with Vox and QuickTime, both the lastest versions. Quickly scrubbing the mp3 back and forth used the most processor, just playing it was non-max usage. Vox: cpu 2.3%, cpu max 5.0%, memory 11.3mb. QuickTime: cpu 2.8%, cpu max 7.1%, memory 35.4mb. Conclusion: neither is a pig, but Vox is definitely lighter, especially in memory use. – Matthew Frederick May 25 '11 at 20:04
  • I wonder why someone downvoted my answer. Quicktime is free (as in beer) and light. That's what i use anyway when I don't want to add mp3's to my iTunes library. – Rafael Vega May 25 '11 at 20:58
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    +1: I think QuickTime Player is a reasonable suggestion here. – boehj May 25 '11 at 21:08
  • I don't know, @Rafael, your answer is certainly completely valid, even if it's not what the OP ended up using. – Matthew Frederick May 25 '11 at 22:20
  • Quicktime player won't play more than one song back-to-back. – Scott Biggs Jan 16 '17 at 6:06

I've been looking for the perfect lightweight OSX player for a long time and still stick with Cog

Change the update feed to Nightly in the preferences and you'll get 0.08 that runs in High Sierra and lower.

  • I used Cog for a lot of years, until the stable version stopped working and I was sad. I just came across this now, and the latest "nightly" from ~2013 does indeed still work! Considering that this player is effectively defunct, I'm not sure it's necessarily a good answer, but I really appreciated this and I'm using it again, so I'm upvoting. – adfaklsdjf Jan 14 at 18:01
  • Thanks @adfaklsdjf, yes, I had the same kind of Eureka moment when I discovered the nightly build :-) – Capsule Jan 15 at 22:29
  • It took me some time to find a "nightly" from cogx.org ... and eventually found in the forums that the project has been forked and that (as of this comment!), a working Cog for Mojave (10.14.6) can be found at https://mamburu.net/cog/. – Dɑvïd Aug 14 at 7:13

On Finder, click the mp3, press space or ^+Y.

It will open a Quick Look window and that will preview your mp3.

  • 2
    @idober Quick Look does play the mp3 and offers basic controls: play/pause and a scrubber for changing position in the track. However it only works if you don't leave the Finder or click on anything else in Finder. Still, I wanted to clarify that for future people reading this question. – Matthew Frederick May 25 '11 at 13:50
  • If you use column view, you can also use the preview column to play it, and it won't stop playing if you switch applications or windows. – ughoavgfhw Jul 22 '11 at 18:30
  • Works perfectly for playing just one song. But if you want anymore (like say, an album) you're out of luck. – Scott Biggs Jan 16 '17 at 6:08

SimpleSong seems to be exactly what you are searching for - this is as simple as it gets, basically just a searchbar. You can now also drag tracks from the finder to the dock icon, to open the tracks as a playlist.

  • New versions of the OS have replaced SimpleSong with Quick Look. And in the time, it has gotten less compatible (and therefore buggy). Too bad; it looked pretty nice. – Scott Biggs Jan 16 '17 at 6:19

I usually default to using VLC but it has one annoying (to me) limitation: playlists do not persist when you close the app. (At least, I can't find a way of overcoming this in the preferences.) I have used Cog, but after recent updates of OS X (I'm now on Mojave) it seems very flakey. So....

Pine Player

After a bit of a search, I've now found Pine Player ("Price: Free") which is also available in the App store. It has some other nice features, too, but is a fairly simple player and so lacks some features that users might like to have (e.g., I don't think it varies speed of playback). But it is a nicely implemented audio player with "persistent" playlists, and that's exactly what I'm looking for. Works well for me!


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