Mac Users: Control Streaming Services With Your Media Keys

Justin Pot 11-07-2014

You’re about to walk away from your computer, so you absentmindedly hit “Pause” on your Mac. Nothing pauses – instead, iTunes launches.


Stupid iTunes, no one wants you! So you CMD-Q to close the still-loading iTunes, then open your browser to find the tab playing music, then hit the appropriate “Pause” button. Terrible.

If you listen to music primarily on web services like Pandora, YouTube or Bandcamp, this gets old. Happily, there’s a way to stop it. Control web music using your Mac’s media keys with BeardedSpice. This free app enables music services in Chrome and Safari to be paused, played and skipped with a single keypress.

Firefox users: this isn’t for you, apparently due to limitation in Firefox itself.

Controlling Web Music

Launch BeardedSpice and you will find it in your Mac’s menubar. Open whatever site you’d like to play music from – if it’s supported, you’ll see it as an option in the menubar.



Click the site you want to control in the menubar. Alternatively, you can use a keyboard shortcut to tell Bearded Spice to open your currently open tab – the default is CMD and F8.

There are nine sites built into the service:

  • YouTube
  • Pandora
  • BandCamp
  • Grooveshark
  • SoundCloud
  • LastFM
  • Google Play Music
  • Spotify (web version)
  • Rdio (web version)


Is a site you want to pause not supported? You can add an issue on GitHub – if you’re polite, the developers might add it for you. Alternatively, if you know your way around Javascript, you can put together your own media controller for the program. Read about that on the Bearded Spice website, if you’re interested.



Obviously this is for advanced users only, so if that’s not you then you’re basically out of luck (unless you can find a friend well versed in code to help you out).

Chrome User? Try This Instead (Windows Users Too!)

Bearded Spice isn’t the only option out there for this. A Chrome extension called Unified Media Keys offers compatibility with a lot of sites – more than Bearded Spice.



This option also supports scrobbling, so if that’s something you still do, you might want to look into it. Read more about Unified Media Keys Unity Media Keys: Control Web-Based Music Services With Your Media Keys [Chrome] Use your computer's media keys to control Pandora, Google Music, Grooveshark or any other major online music player in Chrome – regardless of whether you're using Chrome right now or not. Whether you're a Mac... Read More .

Control Everything!

Of course, this is just the beginning. You can set your Mac media keys to control a lot of things if you start looking into it. We’ve shown you how alternative media player Vox offers a patch for using the media buttons Stop iTunes From Taking Your Media Keys Hostage: Use Vox Instead Stop iTunes from launching, and use your media keys with a program you don’t hate. Here’s how. Read More , skirting around your Mac’s sandboxing with a separate download.

We’ve also shown you the best Mac apps for listening to Pandora The Best Mac Apps For Listening To Pandora Love Pandora, but not in your browser? Here are the best Mac apps for the job – regardless of whether you're a Pandora One subscriber. Read More , and more than a few supported your Mac media keys. This is great if you want keep your browser for browsing.

And it’s not just your media keys: with the right software, you can completely reconfigure your Mac keyboard Reconfigure Your Mac Keyboard for More Geek Power [Mac] If you're the type of Mac user who likes to customize every feature or program on your computer, you might want to check out the system preferences application, KeyRemap4MacBook. It essentially enables you to re-map... Read More . I’ve mapped the eject key to open the dashboard, for example. What have you remapped? Let me know in the comments below, okay?


Related topics: Keyboard, Media Player.

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  1. Cindy
    September 11, 2017 at 1:19 am

    "Stupid iTunes, no one wants you! So you CMD-Q to close the still-loading iTunes, then open your browser to find the tab playing music, then hit the appropriate “Pause” button. Terrible."

    Totally!! Thank you so much for this post!!