I listen to music while I work, and it can be tedious to have to locate iTunes to turn my music on/off, which I have to do often. I want to setup shortcuts so I can start/stop my music no matter what application I'm currently in.

I've seen that OSX lets you create application shortcuts, however they don't seem to be working for me for iTunes. I've tried to create a shortcut named 'Play', which matches the name of the command in the iTunes menu exactly, yet when I use the shortcut I just get a standard warning sound from OSX that you get when you're trying to do something that you cannot do.

EDIT: I have found that I can create a shortcut for the 'Stop' command, just not 'Play'. And the 'Stop' shortcut I've created only works when iTunes is the application in focus. So now I'm even more confused.

Here's my shortcut:
enter image description here

And here's the iTunes menu:
enter image description here

Any ideas as to what I might be doing wrong? Or is there another way to go about this?

5 Answers 5


If you have an Apple keyboard, F8 (or fn-F8) should start or pause playback. If you don't, you might be able to use KeyRemap4MacBook to remap other key combinations to the special F-keys.

Alfred also has some keywords for controlling iTunes, like play and next. You can assign shortcts to them by creating a workflow:

You could also assign a shortcut to a script like this:

tell application "iTunes"
    if player state is playing then
    end if
end tell

I use scripts like this to jump forward and backward:

    tell application "iTunes"
        set player position to player position + 30
    end tell
end try
  • I'm not using a Mac keyboard, and F8 isn't working. I tried KeyRemap4MacBook's event viewer and when I press F8 it shows that fn-F8 is occurring. Is there a reason this isn't working to play/pause the music? Also, is there a place where the shortcut fn-F8 is set up and can be changed? Mostly I'd just like to see if that shortcut is still in place, since fn-F8 doesn't seem to be working for me.
    – Nic Foster
    Apr 10, 2013 at 18:39
  • The special F-keys don't work on many keyboards by default, but you can use KeyRemap4MacBook to add them for some keyboards.
    – Lri
    Apr 11, 2013 at 4:09
  • Thanks for the Alfred tip! I have been using an app called Synergy to control iTunes using hotkeys, but apparently it is no longer compatible with High Sierra and/or iTunes 12.7, as it now refuses to run and crashes on startup. Been looking for an alternate solution but didn't really find one, until I ran into your answer. Since I already use Alfred, it was trivial to create a workflow duplicating the functionality that I used to get using the Synergy app. Sep 27, 2017 at 5:57

One simple solution, if you don't have a keyboard with shortcuts, is to set the miniplayer to always stay on top of other windows for a fast click.

Note: Stackoverflow won't let me post pictures of this because my reputation is too low, but it works for me :)


I've found an application that took care of this nicely for me. I should also note that this was made more difficult because I have a non-Mac keyboard, so I couldn't just use OSX's built-in shortcut for iTunes, as that only seems to work on Mac keyboards.

The application is called Quicksilver, here's the link to it: http://qsapp.com/download.php

It took about 1 minute to download and install, and another 1-2 minutes for me to figure out how to make a trigger for iTunes.

Here are the steps I took:

  1. Download and install Quicksilver
  2. Make sure to select the iTunes plugin.
  3. Setup a hotkey that opens Quicksilver. You get to do this on installation, the default hotkey is ^space, which is nice because it's similar to the default of cmd-space that is used for spotlight.
  4. Open Quicksilver using the hotkey you setup.
  5. On the top-right of the open dialog there is a upside-down carat symbol (looks like a down arrow), click that and then click Triggers.
  6. In the Triggers options on the left, click the iTunes icon (if you don't have this then you probably didn't install the optional iTunes plugin I mentioned on step #2).
  7. Now find 'Play/Pause', check the box next to it, and setup a hotkey by clicking on the hotkey button in that row. Choose whatever shortcut you want and now iTunes will play/pause to your liking.

Not going to help the OP's 2013 computer, but the Touch Bar on the newest MacBook allows this very easily. By default, the button to the left of Brightness opens iTunes controls. Or you can customize it: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207055 (custom-added Play/Pause button also works for Spotify and Clementine player and maybe others; I only tested these)


Maybe someone will need to

adjust the volume of iTunes with global keyboard hotkeys.

  1. In Automator create new Service.
  2. Service receives = No input.
  3. Search Run AppleScript and drag right.
  4. Paste script and save.
  5. In System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Services, search your automator script.
  6. Set global keyboard shortcut (e.g. "fn+cmd+f10", "fn+cmd+f11", "fn+cmd+f12")


Volume Up (fn+cmd+f12)

tell application "iTunes"
    if mute then
        set mute to false
    end if
    set vol to sound volume
    set vol to vol + 5
    if vol is greater than 100 then
        set vol to 100
    end if
    set the sound volume to vol
end tell

Volume Down (fn+cmd+f11)

tell application "iTunes"
    set vol to sound volume
    set vol to vol - 10
    if vol is less than 0 then
        set vol to 0
    end if
    set the sound volume to vol
end tell

Mute (fn+cmd+f10)

tell application "iTunes"
    set mute to not mute
end tell

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