For the past few months (ever since Google Music, now Google Play Music went out of beta and I received my invitation to the service), Google Play Music has been my go-to way to listen to music while on my laptop.
It was, admittedly, a bit of a chore to get 15,000 or so songs uploaded to the service, but now, as long as I have a decent Internet connection, I can listen to those songs. Sure, I’m out of luck if I don’t have that Internet connection, but having Google Play Music means I don’t have to keep my music collection (which is pretty large, as well as constantly changing), on my laptop, but can keep it – in its entirety – on an external hard drive.
One of the aspects of Google Play Music that’s a bit unfortunate is that it “lives” inside a web browser. You need to open your browser, navigate to the Google Play Music website, then keep that tab or window open while listening to your music. It also doesn’t integrate with your operating system, so there aren’t any pop-up notifications when you change to a different song, and for those using Last.FM to keep track of their listening habits, there is no scrobbling.
Linux users have been able to take advantage of Nuvola Player (formerly Google Music Player) to bring Google Play Music to the Desktop, and now – thanks to “vhanla” over at DeviantART, Windows players can use the Google Music Desktop Player to do pretty much the same thing. Here’s how it works.
First, head over to the Google Music Desktop Player page.
Now, click the Download File link to download a zipped directory which includes everything you need.
We downloaded the archive to our Desktop, where you can now extract it using your favorite archive manager. We used HaoZip, as you can see from the screenshot below.
Once the archive is extrated, launch the GMusic application found inside the folder.
Like Nuvola Player, Google Music Desktop Player is in reality a web browser, modified for a single purpose: to play Google Play Music (and other services, in the case of Nuvola Player). And like a web browser, it may take a bit of time to start up (at least it might the first time you launch it after logging into your computer). Because of this, you’ll see the following splash screen when Google Music Desktop Player loads.
Next you’ll be asked to enter your Google Play username and password.
Eventually, you’ll see the familiar Google Play Music interface, with a couple exceptions.
First, since this is designed as a single-purpose tool, the standard Google toolbar (which provides links to Gmail, Google Drive and other Google services), is gone. Second, the title bar contains an extra icon (for the mini player), as well as a way to access the program’s settings. Click it and the following overlay will appear.
Here you can see some of the extra features mentioned earlier, including the ability to Scrobble all your listening through Last.FM, whether the player should always be on top of other applications, and whether or not the player should show notifications or free up RAM between songs.
We mentioned earlier about the lack of desktop integration when using Google Play Music through a web browser. The Google Music Desktop Player takes care of this in a couple ways. First is the notifications we just mentioned. If you have them activated, you’ll see a window like this whenever a track starts playing.
In addition, the Taskbar icon has a set of playback controls that reveal themselves when you hover over the icon, as part of the thumbnail.
And we also mentioned the mini player. And it really is miniature, measuring basically 100 pixels square!
In spite of its size, it still offers a pause button, and previous/next track buttons as well.
While no service that requires a web connection (or a program that brings that service to the Desktop) can ever be “perfect” (what happens when the Internet connection goes down?), the Google Music Desktop Player does about as good a job as you could hope. The service is as speedy as your connection allows, and the little touches like the mini player, Last.FM integration, track change notifications and the Taskbar controls really make this an excellent option for Google Music lovers.