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Summary:

Ever since I began my quest for the ultimate minimalist Mac experience, I have failed to find an elegant and stable way to control iTunes without using the built-in controller. I thought the solution was in Bowtie, but, unfortunately, that app only provides elegance. After some […]

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Ever since I began my quest for the ultimate minimalist Mac experience, I have failed to find an elegant and stable way to control iTunes without using the built-in controller. I thought the solution was in Bowtie, but, unfortunately, that app only provides elegance. After some time it becomes unresponsive. An update will supposedly be released soon, but my patience ran out.

Thankfully, I discovered SizzlingKeys, a simple, free way to use hotkeys to control iTunes. Although it isn’t as customizable as Bowtie.app, it still gets the job done without stealing any scarce real estate or eating up the processor. When you use a command, a tiny floating window appears to show you the currently playing song along with its album art.

As you can see in the screenshot below, I chose to use the Command and Option keys to initiate each basic control. If iTunes isn’t running when you use a command, SizzlingKeys can open it automatically.

The screenshot below is from the floating window options. Each time you control iTunes using SizzlingKeys, a lightweight window appears for a few seconds to show what song is playing before fading away.

Here you can see what my floating window looks like against a dark desktop background. You also get a tiny icon indicating what command was triggered. In this example, I paused the music.

There is a $5 pro version with additional features, but they are not necessary for casually listening to music.

  1. Thanks for the tip — never heard of the app before!

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  2. Perhaps not quite as robust, Ecoute is both elegant and functional. Ecoute also negates the need to open iTunes.

    http://www.ecouteapp.com/

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  3. It would be nice if they release a 64-bit version, so you wouldn’t have to relaunch System Preferences in 32-bit mode just for this app.

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  4. I’m sorry about the stability issues presented by the current build of Bowtie, but never fear! We’ve got some changes planned (should be out within a month or so) that should make everything considerably smoother, especially on Snow Leopard. :)

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  5. You Control: Tunes does all this and more as far as I know and is free. It is a small neat menubar addition that allows for quick and elegant operation of iTunes; it also allows the option of getting extra info and rating songs.

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  6. I’ve been using sizzling keys for over 3 years now and I have to admit this is one of the best iTunes addons ever!!! Also go for Growl integration dudes.

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  7. Here’s what I’ve been using for years: MenuTunes. Minimalist iTunes controller, but does everything I want it to.

    http://ithinksw.com/menutunes

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  8. SizzlingKeys + iScrobbler + Growl + iTunes = best music experience on the Mac. I don’t particularly like the default floater window for SizzlingKeys. iScrobbler’s Growl notifications are much cleaner. Having said that, SizzlingKeys is perfect for what I need it for!

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