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Summary:

Apple’s iTunes application is perhaps the most popular app ever installed on the Mac. It’s also one of the least flexible in terms of customization. There’s little you can do to “make it your own,” so to speak. However, all is not lost for habitual tweakers like myself; the iTunes Visualizer can satisfy your need to not leave well-enough alone. I’ve put together a list of 14 cool (and free) Visualizers to get your started with your collection.

iTunes

Apple’s iTunes application is perhaps the most popular app ever installed on the Mac. It’s also one of the least flexible, in terms of customization. There’s little you can do to “make it your own,” so to speak. However, all is not lost for habitual tweakers like myself; the iTunes Visualizer can satisfy your need to not leave well-enough alone.

If you display your iTunes window on a second monitor, or just like to look at the iTunes Visualizer full screen on your 30″ LCD, you should know that you have some really nice options available for customizing the appearance of the Visualizer.

iTunes default Visualizer

iTunes default Visualizer

Invoking the Visualizer by hitting Command + T (hit Command + F to make it full screen if you wish) then hitting the ? key brings up an overlay on the Visualizer screen containing a few keyboard shortcuts to control various aspects of whichever Visualizer you’re running at the time. But these customizations only go so far. To move beyond minor tweaks to Apple’s built-in Visualizers, you can install a number of truly cool third-party Visualizers which really enhance the iTunes experience.

Download More Visualizers

I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite Visualizers to get you started. This is by no means a complete list, so if you’re looking for even more, I suggest a quick Google search to quench your thirst.

All the Visualizers listed below work perfectly with OS X Leopard, iTunes 8.2, and are free to download and use. Click the preview image to go directly to the download page of each Visualizer.

Punkt Visualizer

Punkt Visualizer

Punkt is a Quartz Composer Visualizer that is much cooler than it appears in this screenshot. Colors burst to the beat of your music.

Circle Visualizer

Circle Visualizer

Circle places the track name, artist and album in a circular format, and floats in a 3D space.

Fountain Music Visualizer

Fountain Music Visualizer

Fountain Music is probably one of my favorite Visualizers. It reminds me of the drummers in The Blue Man Group, where water is blasting upwards from the drums, highlighted by bright neon lights as they play. Fountain Music also has a decent amount of customization options, such as particle size and color.

Dragon Visualizer

Dragon Visualizer

Dragon features a squishy, squirmy dragon dancing to your music. I almost feel like this one borders on being somewhat icky — but it’s truly awesome.

WhiteCap Visualizer

WhiteCap Visualizer

WhiteCap places dynamic wireframe mesh visuals on your screen, cycling through colors and traveling through space.

Figure Visualizer

Figure Visualizer

Figure places the track title, album, artist and album art on a virtual wall, swiveling around in 3D space.

Bugaboo Visualizer

Bugaboo Visualizer

Bugaboo places colorful dancing lightning bugs on screen. This is another one of those that you have to see to appreciate.

Cubism Visualizer

Cubism Visualizer

Cubism brings a Tetris-like appearance to your Visualizer, bouncing blocks to the beat of your music. A 3D cube with the album art mingles among the blocks as well.

Gaslight Visualizer

Gaslight Visualizer

Gaslight is a customizable frequency spectrum analyzer — kind of old-school, but still quite nice!

Snow Visualizer

Snow Visualizer

Snow, another offering from WowLab, displays colorful snow blowing across your screen. This one is really nice for soothing music after a rough day at the office.

LED Flow Visualizer

LED Flow Visualizer

LED Flow uses Apple’s Quartz technology to place a colorful level meter in 3D space.

G-Force Visualizer

G-Force Visualizer

G-Force, the original awesome third-party Visualizer for iTunes, still going strong with its fractal goodness!

Sing Visualizer

Sing Visualizer

Sing places a friendly little creature in your iTunes window and sings. Sort of. Well, it’s cool to look at anyway.

Jumping Steve Visualizer

Jumping Steve Visualizer

Jumping Steve pays homage to Steve Jobs with a cutout jumping jack that dances to the beat. Hit the P key for a special iPod commercial-like silhouette feature.

Don’t forget that different Visualizers will offer disparate customization options, the level of which (if any) varies between minor, and fairly major stuff — it just depends on the developer, and how much time they bothered to put in. Don’t forget to hit the ? key to find out what options are available to you.

If you’ve never installed a plugin or other add-on to iTunes, Visualizers are a great place to start. They’re simple, require little effort to get up and running, and typically they either work or they don’t, with no ill side-effects.

  1. What to read on the GigaOM network Thursday, July 2, 2009

    [...] council with cleantech leaders? (Earth2Tech) Must-have iPhone apps for air travel (WebWorkerDaily) 14 free iTunes visualizers (TheAppleBlog) With the rollout of Symbian’s OS platform, expect a shakeout (OStatic) MIA: [...]

  2. white cap and g-force!!!… I remember using them with SoundJam on OS 9… Good ol’ times

  3. John Harrison Thursday, July 2, 2009

    Manifesto is three visualizers in one. The default one is 3D worms that dance and spin to the music.

    1. omg!!! i louuuve marshie!!!! omg lol i use all my visualizres with H*R songs!

  4. James Dempsey Saturday, July 4, 2009

    Thanks for the Manifesto link… can’t believe I didn’t come across that one!

    1. hi james,

      i tried to install manifesto but i couldn’t. i fallow the instructions: dropping the manifesto.bundle on i-tunes, then relaunching itunes, etc., but still don’t work. i have a brand new mac w/snow leo os.
      any suggestions?. thanx!

    2. jim!…i got it! manifesto is working now. thanx!

  5. Snygga visualizers till iTunes! | Magnus Jonasson Monday, July 6, 2009

    [...] theAppleBlog.com har slängt ihop en ganska trevlig samling med gratis visualizers till iTunes för din Mac. Några av dem är riktigt snygga faktiskt, så ta och klicka vidare, ladda hem och njut av lite ögongodis. [...]

  6. 14 Free iTunes Visualizers | vj.tv Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    [...] (theappleblog.com) I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite Visualizers to get you started. This is by no means a complete list, so if you’re looking for even more, I suggest a quick Google search to quench your thirst. [...]

  7. can these be used on windows?

    1. If you’re looking for a free visualizer that can be used on Windows iTunes or Windows Media Player, as well as Mac, check out Morphyre at http://www.morphyre.com- it has literally thousands of unique scenes

  8. how and to where should i extract the file i downloaded?

    1. Unzip files as necessary.

      If they contain an installer package (like the Snow visualizer described above), just run it and you’re all set. (Admin password required.)

      If the downloaded file has a .qtz filename extension (as does the punkt package described above), place it in /System/Library/Compositions (Admin password required).

      If the file has a .bundle filename extension, put it in the /Library/iTunes/iTunes Plug-ins folder (Admin password required) to make it available to all users of your Mac, or in ~/Library/iTunes/iTunes Plug-ins to make it accessible only in your user account.

      Some visualizers may contain both .qtz and .bundle files; if they do, both components must be installed as described above.

      You’ll have to restart iTunes (and possibly your Mac) before the new visualizers are listed in the View -> Visualizer submenu in iTunes.

      Remember to press ? when your new visualizer is running to see its option controls.

    2. Thanks Jim, wouldn’t have been able to figure that out without your post!

  9. A brand new visualizer for Mac, “Morphyre” has just been released. It can be downloaded for free at http://www.morphyre.com and we’d love to hear what you think of it on our forum, and if you have any suggestions for improvements!

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