9 Different Ways to Control iTunes

One of the great things about iTunes is the range of third-party software developed to make playing and browsing songs easier. Whether a tiny widget sitting in your menu bar or a gorgeous display of high quality album art on your desktop – there’s an iTunes controller to match every taste.

A number of the applications mentioned are free, and we’re covering both desktop and mobile device software (not solely for iPhones, you’ll be pleased to know!). If you use iTunes on a regular basis I would definitely recommend giving a few of these tools a try. They simplify the process of skipping through tracks, and can make digital music even more enjoyable.

Desktop Controllers

You Control

You Control

You Control

You Control resides in the OS X Menu Bar and offers a quick way to move between and rate tracks. Clicking the menu displays all the current track information, along with several menus for selecting artists, playlists, or recently played music.

Price: Free
Developer: You Software
Requires: Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger) or 10.5 (Leopard)




Having recently reviewed SizzlingKeys, we felt it deserved a place in this list. It’s great for selecting songs to play, as well as providing a pleasant visual feedback of what you’re listening to.

Price: $4.95
Developer: Yellow Mug
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later, iTunes 8.1.x




Along with having a great name, CoverSutra offers a decent range of features. It comes at a hefty price for a simple iTunes controller but has a stunning interface and integrates well with Last.fm. Worth checking out if you’re happy to spend a little money.

Price: $19.95
Developer: Sophiestication
Requires: Mac OS X Leopard




Bowtie is a fairly new application that allows you to control iTunes with shortcuts, submit your songs to Last.fm, and experiment with a huge range of (gorgeously designed) themes. Interestingly, all the theming is done via JavaScript, HTML and CSS.

Price: Free
Developer: Matt Patenaude & Laurent Baumann
Requires: Requires Mac OS X 10.5 or greater



Synergy Classic

Synergy offers a combination approach, displaying both menu bar navigation controls and a desktop display of album art. It would seem that development hasn’t been active for a while, and Synergy doesn’t offer a huge amount more than various free controllers.

Price: 5€
Developer: WinCent
Requires: Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) or later




ByteController is a the simplest of all the apps on show, giving you three buttons in your menu bar: previous song, next song and play/pause. Holding either of these buttons will fast forward or rewind. Very straight forward, but it may be perfect for your needs.

Price: Free
Developer: Bytetastic
Requires: Mac OS X 10.3.9 or greater

TuneBar 3

TuneBar 3


TuneBar is a fantastic app with stunning skins, Growl integration, and the option for menu bar widgets. With a theme that looks like this, how you can resist giving it a try?

Price: $12
Developer: Tom Hancocks
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5+ (Leopard)

Mobile Controllers

iTunes Remote App

iTunes Remote App

iTunes Remote App

Remote is a free application that turns iPod touch and iPhone into a remote control for iTunes and Apple TV. You can browse your entire music library, and use your mobile device as an incredibly advanced Wi-Fi remote control.

Price: Free
Developer: Apple
Requires: iPod Touch/iPhone

Salling Clicker Software

Salling Clicker Software

Salling Clicker

Salling Clicker lets you control popular applications from a mobile phone or handheld computer – not only iTunes, but a range of other software as well. It works with over 300 devices and operates via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Price: $23.95
Developer: Salling Software
Requires: Mac OS X 10.3.9 or greater, and a supported device


I hope that you have a new-found knowledge of desktop iTunes controllers, and have received a taste for what’s available on a mobile device. It’s easy to swap between applications in this niche so I would definitely recommend giving a few different controllers a try.

Please feel free to share any other mobile or desktop iTunes controllers that you’re a fan of. I’m sure there are a few stunning ones lurking around that we haven’t covered!


Add Yours
  • I’ve been using YouControl for a few years now, and it’s still one of my favorites. Nice and unobtrusive.

  • What about GimmeSomeTune?

    • I hadn’t come across GimmeSomeTune before – good find!

    • Ok wow, I take back a little of what I said earlier in my last reply to Howard, maybe these apps, CAN do some cool stuff, (even if some are a bit ugly) ;)

      I love this site by the way. Envato never stops putting out great sites/blogs. Keep the good stuff coming!

  • TotalTunesControl is another one. It has some issues with my library, which is on my network drive, but otherwise offers a ton of features (Last.fm integration, lyrics and cover searching, etc.)

    • I love TotalTunes Control, it does a very nice job finding lyrics while playing music, and has a nice interface. Very nice choice

  • Quicksilver.

    • Yeah, Quicksilver! (one stop controlling of everything pretty much) I don’t see the point of any separate desktop controller apps for iTunes alone, if the app doesn’t do more than just iTunes… it’s just silly. How much more than a “hello world!” example program can such an app be otherwise?

      My favorite iTunes controller though, is “Remote” for the iPhone/iPod Touch, I’m glad it was covered. It is truly useful. It’s truly an external iTunes app, and it’s awesome ;).

      • Quicksilver + GimmeSomeTune = iTunes in control

  • I personally use Byte Controller. Two features that you didn’t mention are:

    – Growl support to show song information
    – Universal hotkeys to configure keyboard playback shortcuts

  • I Love the Touch and Iphone find.
    Never knew about this before.


  • call me revolutionary… but i just CMD+Tab to iTunes and then hit CMD + Right Arrow Key to get to the next track. Spacebar stops the track.

  • -OR- Have a Apple keyboard that has iTunes controls on it already (back, forward, pause/play). I find pressing a single keyboard key from within any app easier than running another app.

    • Agree. Can’t see why I need an app which adds more keys for me to remember.. But, a slick bar on the top of the screen showing some info is not so bad.

  • NowPlaying beats every one of these…

  • Big fan of Bowtie; it’s well designed, does it all and is free.

  • What about Cover Stream? – It is my favorite.

  • Got to love the iRemote app on iPhone/iTouch – throw in an airport express with airtunes and you’re away!

  • GimmeSomeTune yoked with Quicksilver is where it’s at. Best setup for iTunes I think.

  • Nice. The iPhone apps are extremely Handy!

  • I recently found iSofa which is really cool and free! It can control a lot of other things too like video.

  • ok what i want to do is be able to play itunes and my ipod at the same time….what i mean is i want to be able to be playing a song on itunes on my computer speakers and then play the same song at the same time on my ipod and hook that up to my stereo so i want both the ipod and the itunes to play simultaneously does anyone know if this is possible ive been looking at every app and cant find a thing

  • great article and very useful thanks

  • Alfred’s Powerpack!


    Not strictly a controller but still the best I find.