If you listen to music on your Mac as often as I do, you’ve probably recognized the need for more accessible music controls. Switching from your active app over to iTunes or Spotify to control the sound just doesn’t cut it, and the few keyboard keys don’t offer everything I need.
Instead, try putting your music controls right in the menu bar. This makes them accessible regardless of whatever app you’re using without disrupting your workflow. With just one click, you can play, pause, skip, go back, scrub through and more. Here are four Mac apps that can do that for you.
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SkipTunes acts as a mini media player in your menu bar. It gorgeously displays album artwork of the current song you’re listening to, plus provides controls to play/pause, skip ahead, go back, scrub through the song, adjust volume and more. You can even enable pause and skip right inside the menu bar alongside the icon. The best part is that it works with both iTunes or Spotify so you can control either source of music.
In addition, SkipTunes has built-in push notifications that let you know when a new song has started playing plus the title and artist. This is optional, but it’s a neat little feature that remains fairly unobtrusive.
SkipTunes is fantastic for music lovers, but it’s the most expensive Mac app on this list at $2.99.
Note: SkipTunes is currently experiencing a bug in which it can not pull album artwork from Spotify.
Controls+ is a bit of a multi-tasker. On top of letting you control your music from the menu bar, it also lets you adjust the brightness of your Mac, set a screensaver to start playing, set a timer or stopwatch and more. It’s about the closest you can get to having Control Center on a Mac.
As far as the music controls go, you can play/pause, skip ahead, go back, adjust volume and view album artwork. Unlike SkipTunes though, Controls+ only works with iTunes. But the other built-in productivity features are great in making the most of the tiny space granted by a menu bar window.
Controls+ is available in the Mac App Store for $0.99.
Muzzy is the prettiest of all the apps on our list, but it’s the one with the least amount of functionality. What it seems to do is only include the features that aren’t already available to you on your Mac’s keyboard.
For example, you can skip back, skip forward, play/pause and adjust volume from your keyboard. But what you can’t do is scrub through a song, view album artwork, or view your current album or playlist and select songs on demand. Muzzy lets you do all of that and none of the keyboard stuff.
While it’s kind of annoying to not be able to do something as simple as pause the music from Muzzy, its minimalism makes it fast and uncomplicated. Muzzy works only with iTunes and is free in the Mac App Store.
BarTunes is basically like a control-click menu of controls for your menu bar. There is no album artwork on display (though you can oddly show it as a tiny icon within the menu bar — a bit counterintuitive) and no visual controls. Just click the BarTunes icon to see the song currently playing and textual menu items for Play, Next, Previous and Rating.
What’s nice though is that like SkipTunes, you can add controls for play and skip right alongside the menu bar icon too. One less click to deal with.
It’s far from elegant, but it’s basic and perfectly functional. BarTunes works only with iTunes and is free in the Mac App Store.