Remember winamp? It was, for many people, the original music player. You could drag a folder full of MP3 files into the app and it would play them all in order (a relatively new feature in the late ’90s). Even if you don’t feel nostalgic for this little app, or anything like it. —may still have a place on the computer you use today.
However, what most people remember from this show are the skins. These changed every aspect of the player’s appearance and people created thousands of them. You can explore this utterly insane era of design at the Winamp Mask Museum, which offers a giant collection of these Internet relics. Anyone who used Winamp in the late 90’s and early 2000’s will no doubt be able to find a couple of themes they recognise. Even better: you can click on any skin to see how it works, play music, and see all the little animations.
However, you may be wondering if you can use these classic Winamp themes on your desktop or laptop for all your music playing needs. Turns out you can.
For Windows and Linux: Bold
Audacious is a free and open source music player. The default interface is nothing like Winamp, but you can change it by clicking Archive > Settings and changing the Interface option within the Appearance tab to Classic Winamp interface. This takes you back to the three-window interface Winamp was famous for: one for the player, one for the equalizer, and one for the current playlist. You can drag music files or folders to the playlist, just like in the past.
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The program also gives you the choice of some Winamp-inspired skins, or you can add any classic skin by downloading it from the Winamp skins museum and dragging it into the player. You’ll have the classic Winamp feel in no time.
At least you can easily install skins on Linux. As of this writing, the Windows version of Audacious cannot automatically install Winamp skins, which is disappointing, but there is a workaround. Download the skin, then rename the file so that the extension is .ZIP instead of .WSZ. Unzip the file and drag the folder to C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\audacious\Skins, replacing “USERNAME” with your Windows username. The skin will appear in the Audacious settings, though you may need to restart the app first.
For macOS: reAMP
Built from the ground up to recreate the classic Winamp experience on macOS, reAMP uses a variation on the original Winamp look, complete with the famous three-window user interface. There’s also a simple skin import tool in the settings, so you can download anything from the Winamp skin museum and use it in seconds.
Webamp: Classic Winamp in your browser
If you’d rather not go through the hassle of installing an app, good news: You can use Webamp instead. This website offers a working version of Winamp complete with some tracks, or you can drag your own music. There are a few Winamp Classic skins available, or you can drag any skin you’ve downloaded to see it in action. This is great if you want a quick nostalgia trip.
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Some people have also made good use of the code behind Webamp. Winampify, for example, allows you to use this interface to play music from your Spotify library if you have a Spotify Premium subscription. Or, if you want to get completely weird, Try Andy’s Desk offers a complete fake vintage Windows setup complete with Winamp along with recreations of Minesweeper, SkiFree, and even old MSPaint.
Not Recommended: Real Winamp
Windows users have another option: the real Winamp. However, I tried this and found it missing on a modern computer. For one thing, the UI was very small on my 4K screen. I could get around this by duplicating the interface, but even then things just felt off. The app is getting updates but most of them are NFT related which does not inspire confidence. Having said that though, it’s great that Winamp still exists in some form, and there’s still support for classic themes built right in there. But ultimately, if you just want a quick sense of nostalgia (or see what you missed), you’re probably better off sticking with third-party recreations.