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I have and always will be a fan of music on iTunes. There iTunes lovers and iTunes haters — my friends, I’m a lover. And with it, comes a passion to make the experience a more enjoyable one. I spend hours scouring the internet for small great apps to compliment my favorite music player.

A group of apps called iTunes controllers allow users to play, pause, rate and skip songs by using global shortcuts, totally bypassing the need to reach for the iTunes interface. Most of them also “scrobble” or submit the songs you’re listening to, an online music catalogue, in order to come up with great recommendations and show the world what you’re listening to. I listen to music through my headphones most of the time, so it’s undeniable a fantastic way to “socialize” a unsocial hobby.

I came across Bowtie a couple of days ago and completely fell in love with it. Why?

Because despite being a small and simple app, it is a fully-featured iTunes controller yet incredibly elegant. Its website tends to leave you guessing and begs the question, “What exactly is it?” Let me clear all of your doubts — it is a theme-able iTunes controller and scrobbler.

Users will need to understand that Bowtie doesn’t come pre-installed with themes. The whole concept of Bowtie is to encourage users to create their own themes to use. This is might deter some but the rest who answered the calling did a marvelous job and look at what they’ve come up with.

At some point, the developer added a link to 11 of his favorite themes. The theme pack is great and comes with some sleek themes that I was surprised to know even existed! Download it, unzip the theme pack, select all and double click to add the themes into Bowtie.


Let me take you through the application. Bowtie iTunes controller is accessible through its menubar icon. There is no main application window — that’s how simple the app is. Look into the Preferences menu to choose your theme, edit the global shortcuts and set up your account to enable scrobbling.

When I was using it on Snow Leopard, Bowtie did hiccup in a few instances. Initially, I couldn’t enable scrobbling. I’d input my credentials and check the ‘Enable’ box but it would uncheck itself. Then I found the quick-fix: Capitalize the first letter of your username and the checkbox remained checked. Everything was smooth sailing from then on but I sincerely hope that the developers would update their app for Snow Leopard compatibility.

I’m still dumbfounded by its theming abilities and the starter theme pack that came with it did not disappoint. Here are some of its themes, most of which I found amazing.

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It’s hard to display it to you good folks but some of the themes provide a “nano” version of themselves. Personally, I adored that. Since I only have a 13″ BlackBook, screen estate is quite valuable. If you are seeking additional themes, a quick Google search returned several great sites but this one struck a chord with me.

Bowtie works on Mac OS X Leopard and quite possibly, Snow Leopard as well. Take it for a spin and tell us if you like it. Or you’d rather part with $20 for CoverSutra? Any other iTunes controllers for Mac we should know about?

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  1. Draco
    December 26, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    I have used an iTunes controller called FluidTunes. It takes live video feed from the iSight camera and puts it behind a tinted screen with all of your albums from iTunes. You wave your hand over "buttons" in the window to change the song, and play or stop a song. It is by MajicJungle Software and is completely free.