Getting started with Amazon Cloud Player for Mac

Amazon released its Cloud Player app for PCs earlier this year, and now Mac users get the app that makes a great alternative to iTunes as well as a way to store music in the cloud and purchase music from Amazon.

Five months after releasing its Cloud Player app for PCs , Amazon has gotten around to releasing a Cloud Player app for Macs. You can use it instead of bloated iTunes to play files stored locally on your Mac, and the app lets you stream music from the cloud and purchase music from Amazon.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

After downloading and installing the app and logging into your account, you'll be greeted by the Cloud music view of the app, as opposed to the Computer view. You can toggle between the two views using the buttons in the upper-left corner. In the upper-right corner is a button to enter Amazon's music store. The right panel offers two drop zones, one for creating new playlists and the other for downloading songs you have stored in the cloud for offline access. You can collapse the right panel by clicking on the small right-arrow button near the top of the right panel. A search box sits at the top of the app, and the current track and album information is displayed along the bottom edge along with media control buttons, a volume slider, and a shuffle button.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

While you go about familiarizing yourself with the app, it finds the MP3s for any AutoRip CDs that you've purchased from Amazon and displays them on the Cloud view of the app. These AutoRip tracks along with any downloads purchased directly from Amazon do not count toward the 250-song limit for the free Cloud Player account. For $25 a year, that 250-song limit increases slightly to 250,000 with Cloud Player Premium.

The Computer view of the Cloud Player app shows you all of your locally stored music and looks nearly identical to the Cloud view. The only real difference -- other than displaying the music stored on your Mac's hard drive versus Amazon's servers, of course -- is that the "Download music from the Cloud" area goes missing from the right panel. Instead, the right panel displays your playlists. You can drag tracks or entire albums to specific playlists or to the top of the right panel to create a new playlist. To remove a track from a playlist, open the playlist and hover over a track and click the X that appears.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

To delete an entire playlist or rename it, you'll need to click on the Playlists button near the top of the left panel and then right-click on one of the playlists listed. You can also use the left panel to view your music collection by artist, album, song, or genre.

The center panel shows you either a grid of album thumbnails of a list of tracks -- you can toggle between the grid and list views with the two buttons in the upper-right corner of the center panel. Right-clicking on a track brings up a menu that lets you download the song (if it's in the cloud), edit song info, create a playlist (or add to an existing playlist if it's a local file), export to iTunes, shop for more music from the artist, or delete from your library or the cloud.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

If you go to an artist's page in the Store, in addition to browsing through his or her or their music catalog, you also get a short bio about the musician or band, photos, and the latest tweet from the entity.

One thing the Amazon Cloud Player can't do is upload local files to the cloud. For such a move, you'll need to use the Cloud Player Web client. There is a shortcut from the Cloud Player app that will take you to the Web client: File > Import Music to Cloud Library.

Any files you have in the cloud with Amazon can be accessed from the Kindle Fire and Ford Sync AppLink-equipped cars , or by using the free Amazon Cloud Player app for iOS and Android devices.

 

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