Most of my solo work time passes with music in the background. Sometimes I’m playing music from my iTunes library, and sometimes I’m streaming music from online radio stations or subscription services. Controlling it all can be a pain. Whether I’m writing a review for AppStorm or balancing Excel spreadsheets at work, I normally have to switch back to the music program to pause a song if someone walks in. If a song comes on that I’m not in the mood to listen to, then it’s even worse since I have to swap to the player to skip and then back to my work. Even this brief interruption can take me out of flow and require time to pick up where I left off.
Skip Tunes is a simple menubar app that offers a solution. It runs in your menu bar to let you control the your music from the menu bar or with keyboard shortcuts. How well does it work?
Skip Tunes: Controlling All Your Music Together
Skip Tunes is compatible with iTunes along with the Rdio and Spotify’s Mac apps. If no supported music application is running, Skip Tunes simply shows as a musical note icon in your menu tray. Once you start a supported music application, Skip Tunes automatically notices and allows you to control it. Your default player, chosen in the program’s preferences, can be started either through the menu or with a key press.
By default, Skip Tunes will display controls, letting you play and pause your music with it’s menu bar icon once a supported player runs. If you do not want to display these controls, you can turn them off in the preferences menu. Using these controls is optional as you can also define keyboard shortcuts to do the same thing. I found having the controls in the menu bar was worth the small amount of space taken, but it’s good to have the option to customize the setting.
Clicking on the note in menu bar will drop down box showing the album art for the current song (or a generic musical note icon if no album art is present) along with the song name, artist, and album name. Hovering your mouse over the album art displays additional music controls with a play/pause toggle along with buttons to skip to the previous or next track. You also have a scrubbing bar where you can move to any point in the song along with a button letting you toggle shuffling tracks. The gear icon let’s you set your default music player and access the program’s preferences.
Making Your Music Listening More Productive
While this control is handy, Skip Tunes really becomes useful thanks to support for keyboard shortcuts. In preferences, you can set keyboard shortcuts to toggle play/pause the music along with skipping to the next or previous track. These allow you to pause music and skip (or replay) a track without leaving the application you’re in and breaking your flow. This one feature is worth the price of the program for me. If I’m writing and a song I don’t like or doesn’t fit my current mood comes on, a quick keystroke skips to the next song without taking me away from my work.
The preference options are few to match the simplicity of the program. A check box let’s you can turn on and off the presence of the play and skip forward control in the menu bar. You can also choose optional keyboard shortcuts for play/pause track, previous track, and next track. There are also links to the Facebook and Twitter links for Skip Tunes.
A Few Complaints…
The biggest fault I found with Skip Tunes would be the relatively few supported music applications. The very popular Pandora service is not supported. Neither is Slacker. The lack of a native Mac OS app for many services admittedly makes this support difficult or impossible, but it still doesn’t help those who primarily listen to music on those services. While I use iTunes often and Spotify some, the lack of support for Slacker reduces how much use I will get from this app.
I would also like the ability to control the volume of the music app from the program with keyboard and mouse options. Users should also note that Skip Tunes 2.0 only works with Mountain Lion. Mac users still running older versions of OS X are out of luck. Less than a month into the life of the new OS seems a bit quick to me to cut support for older version.
Skip Tunes does a simple job well. When using the supported music players, it allows a quick and convenient way to access, pause, and skip your music without having to return to the native app. The lack of support for Mac OS before Mountain Lion presents an obstacle for many users still waiting to move to Apple’s newest OS. I wish it supported more players, but it’s earned a spot on my menu bar.
Skip Tunes provides a quick and easy way to control playback of your music from the menu bar or with keyboard shortcuts. While limited in supported players, Skip Tunes makes it easier to manage music playback while working and without switching to the app.9