Enjoying Apple’s iTunes and iTunes Music Store without owning an iPod

By SteveJack

Many people who don’t even own an iPod enjoy using Apple’s iTunes software and Apple’s iTunes Music Store service. Some people use just the iTunes software. Others use both. No iPod required. Some people even use iPods who have never even visited Apple’s iTunes Music Store!

I get emails from MacDailyNews readers all the time. Here’s a conglomeration of paraphrases that explain how some people use iPods, iTunes, and/or the iTunes Music Store:
I own an iPod and use iTunes, but not the iTunes Music Store. I have ripped all of my 600+ CDs using Apple’s iTunes software in the AAC format at 192 kbps. I hope to visit and use Apple’s iTunes Music Store soon, but I just haven’t gotten around to exploring that option, yet.
I don’t own an iPod, but I use iTunes and the iTunes Music Store. I have purchased over 200 tracks from Apple’s iTunes Music Store, though! I listen to my music on my Mac at home and on my PC at work, either with my stereo speakers, headphones, or stream it wirelessly to my stereo via Apple’s Airport Express.
I don’t own an iPod or use the iTunes Music Store, but I use iTunes. Call me old-fashioned, but I use iTunes to rip my CDs to make mix CDs that I listen to in my car and home stereo and at the beach and at parties. I also listen to the iTunes Radio stations.

There are many permutations of the examples above, but they help to make the following points clear:
You can own an iPod and never need to use Apple’s iTunes Music Store. In fact, some people insist on buying CDs for their higher quality and using iTunes to rip those CDs at very high quality for use in their iPod. They would never settle for 128 kbps iTunes Music Store tracks.
You can use iTunes without owning an iPod. Many people just use iTunes to organize their digital music collections, create playlists, burn mix CDs, listen to iTunes’ included Radio streams, etc. They’ve never used the iTunes Music Store.
You can use iTunes and the iTunes Music Store feature without owning an iPod. Some people buy tracks from iTunes Music Store and just listen to them on their desktop and/or laptop computers. Others do that and also burn CDs for use in CD players everywhere. Some just burn CDs. Some stream music from iTunes to their home stereo. Some people just use the iTunes Music Store to see what’s popular, explore music, find new music that suits their taste, and/or find out about new releases.
You can use an iPod without using iTunes at all. Some people use their iPods to store data only. Like the portable drive it is, some people use iPod for backup and other things. My oldest iPod has no music on it – it has my Home folder on it – it’s become a backup drive. Which reminds me, I need to update that backup!

I could go on, but by now you should see my point. The iPod, iTunes, and the iTunes Music Store are completely different things that can be used all together or in parts or independent of each other. The iTunes Music Store can (or could, depending on what works or doesn’t today) even be accessed without iTunes, but for the purpose of this article, let’s just say that iTunes Music Store requires iTunes use. The iPod doesn’t require using the iTunes software or the iTunes Music Store service. iTunes doesn’t require using an iPod or the iTunes Music store. The iTunes Music Store doesn’t require the use of an iPod. Of course, using all three things together works very well, too!

How do you use iPod+/-iTunes+/-iTunes Music Store?

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to MacDailyNews. Look for more of SteveJack’s articles in our Opinion section.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
MarketWatch incorrectly reports that iTunes Music Store songs can only be played on Apple iPods – May 11, 2005


  1. At first, I only used iTunes to rip my CD collection, catalog the music and make mix CDs for the home and car (I still have over 300 CDs to go – but I need more storage). I’ve owned an iPod for about three months now but I still rarely use the music store. I prefer the CDs b/c of the liner notes.

  2. Amen to this article, now if we could get this printed on a non mac site.

    I work at an apple retailer and spend half my time talking to people about iPods trying to undo all the FUD and ignorance that is spread by the lazy and uninformed media, among others.

    For instance, like some dolt at Best Buy who told someone that you could only sync ONE iPod with iTunes.

    Part of it is Apple’s fault for not taking a stand against this sort of thing. Perception is EVERYTHING.

  3. yea I don’t use the music store too much either. If it’s an album I really want I usually just pick up the CD. iTMS is good for the odd single, though I do wish they had a little better selection of some things. There’s a lot of stupid 80’s stuff I wouldn’t mind having that’s just plain unavailable on iTMS. So it goes…

  4. We started with iTunes only – used it to buy single tracks, then whole albums of stuff we either didn’t have at all or only had on tape, not CD. It was a lot easier to download at $10 and burn on CD if we needed then to pay Amazon $17 for the same CD. Only burned the one album, listened to the rest of them on the desktop and now the laptop.

    Last week, my b-day present was a 40 GB iPod Photo. We have 114 Pepsi iTunes codes turned in. I’m still building the spreadsheet of what we are getting ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” /> (yes I know I have to redeem them soon)

    It’s been fun both ways, now can’t wait to start seeing the video options!

  5. Actually, I enjoy the stores as literature. All of them. As an American abroad, Apple sadly refuses to accept my American based credit card given the fact that the billing address is in another country.

    So .. I look and enjoy .. and buy CDs. heh. There’s currently not a single mp3 on my hard drive, in fact. I don’t own an iPod, either. I merely find it all delightful because it’s propelling Apple into a truly wonderful and bright new future.

  6. I just use the iTunes Radio. I guess I’m in the minority. Maybe I’ll do more with it in the future, but for now, that’s what I do with it for about 8 hours a day while at work!

  7. I started out using iTunes to rip MP3 CD’s to use in a portable MP3 CD player, but finding the songs was a pain in the @$$ (Track 01, Track 02,…which one is the Eric Clapton track again?). So I broke down and bought an iPod and it was great…took me close to a month to rip all of my CDs. I do buy some tracks from iTMS, mainly when I just want one or two songs from an album, but most of my collection is from CD’s and I still buy CDs when I want the whole album.

    iTunes caused me to buy an iPod, but not to use iTMS, I use it voluntarily because its an added bonus.

  8. I’ve been using iTunes since its very first release. I was excited when it became available for Windows. I have it on my Powerbook at home and on my Dell at work. I have tons of music, from many different sources (including my collection of 400 CD’s). I did not own an iPod until a few months ago when a friend got me an iPodShuffle for Christmas. I had no need of one. I’m at my desk all day long and can listen with my headphones and I listen through my AirPort Express at home. I use the iTMS for singles and a few albums from time to time.

    I totally agree that there is a lot of disinformation where people think you have to have an iPod to use iTunes. I’m trying to educate my friends/family who are still using realplayer to organize their music. *shudder*

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