If you just want to play a few MP3s, create a playlist or two, then Windows Media Player will help you get started.

Otherwise, though, the program is probably the worst of all worlds - not particularly powerful, or easy to use - and most people will be better off with something else.

What, exactly? That all depends on your needs. There are programs to help automatically tag your music, download album art and more.

Others will clean up even the messiest MP3 collection, quickly organising files into sensibly-named folders. And of course you'll need a great player, to ensure your music sounds its best.

This doesn't have to be complicated, though, because there are plenty of free tools around which can do all of this (and a whole lot more). Just keep reading for our pick of the best free MP3 software to download.

1. iTunes

Download iTunes

ITunes is a player; a media browser and organiser, and a tool to help set up your iPod, iPhone and iPad. The iTunes Store helps you to discover new content, and of course you're able to buy some of it, too.

The latest version is more stripped down, too, with a simpler, cleaner interface. Most of the key playback options can be controlled from the Mini Player, creating and managing playlists is easier, and the store works more like it does with iPhones and iPads.


ITunes is all about Apple devices, of course, and it does its best to get you into the store (you can't get album art until you're logged in, for instance). But if you don't mind that, this is an excellent player and organiser, and now easier to use than ever.


2. MusicZen

Download MusicZen

If your Music folder is a real mess, with MP3s scattered everywhere, then getting them properly organised can seem like a real challenge - until you run MusicZen.

Point the program at your folder and it can scan all your MP3s, reading their tags, then copying (or moving) them to new folders based on the artist, album, song title and more.


The files will be consistently renamed, too, so those odd mixes of upper and lower cases, the dash and underscore separators will disappear.

And the program is incredibly simple, with no complex settings to master - you'll have your MP3s reordered in seconds.


3. MP3jam

Download MP3jam

There are plenty of YouTube search tools around, but MP3jam is a little different: instead of accessing videos, it's all about music.

Just enter a search term - an artist, a song or album title - and it'll quickly return any results (complete with album art, in some cases).


Each song title has a "play" button, allowing you to stream it from the web. You can alternatively download individual songs or entire albums, and the program automatically organises these into folders for you.


4. Winamp

Download Winamp

After 16 years of development, it's no surprise that Winamp is one of the most capable music players and managers around.

The program supports 60+ audio and video formats. It can quickly scan your PC for audio files (or import your iTunes library), then organise your music in many different ways, you can create playlists, update and edit your MP3 tags, read more about your favourite artists and access thousands of free audio and video channels.


If you need more, there are thousands of plug-ins to explore, and even an Android app.

All these features do make for an occasionally complex interface, and it'll take a while to figure out how everything works. But if you need a powerful player then Winamp remains a good choice.


5. MediaMonkey

Download MediaMonkey

ITunes is great, if you want to work with iOS devices. If you also have an Android phone or tablet, though - or you're just looking for a better organiser - then it could be time to give MediaMonkey a try.