Use Your Mac’s Media Buttons to Control YouTube with Tube Controller

Controlling music on an iPod has always been easy. The buttons are right there — there’s nothing more to it than that. When you look at most computers these days, that’s not the case. Some have media control buttons, some prefer to go with a special extra row of touch buttons, and others just don’t implement the idea into the keyboard well. Apple did it right with volume, play, pause, and skip buttons on the function row of its keyboards. The thing is, you can’t use those for, say, Pandora radio or YouTube because they’re in the browser.

Or can you? Tube Controller gives you full media key support for Google’s video website. Now let’s see how well that works compared to clicking and dragging.

Play Some Videos, Pause Some Videos

The developer's Mac App Store screenshot for Tube Controller.

The developer’s Mac App Store screenshot for Tube Controller.

Tube Controller is a 0.1 MB menu bar app that takes up about 12 MB of RAM on average. It’s so lightweight that you won’t even notice it’s there. Pressing the media keys while you’re listening to a song in iTunes simply pauses the song and starts the YouTube video you have up. It’s compatible with both Chrome and Safari, though unfortunately it doesn’t work with Firefox.

You’re probably thinking, “Well, this probably isn’t good for multitasking. I don’t want all my videos playing at once!” That’s not a problem, though, because the app only controls the video that’s in your current tab. You can have 20 parts of a Conan episode loaded and nothing will start playing in the other 19 tabs.

Now, though, if you open both Chrome and Safari, that’ll really confuse the app, even if you do have one window active and the other behind it. Try not to multitask in that league.

And What Does the Skip Button Do?

Previewing before seeking on a YouTube video.

Previewing before seeking on a YouTube video.

With music apps, the skip buttons play the next or previous song, but with Tube Controller they seek by about 17 seconds. I tried it multiple times and it seemed to range from 15–19 seconds skipped each time. Regardless of how exact it is, this is a good way to jump through a lyric video if you’re search for something, but I don’t recommend using it for anything else as there’s really no reason to.

That One Drawback

Don't forget those headphone controls. Photo by Jacob Penderworth|StarFront Photography.

Don’t forget those headphone controls.

As some users have pointed out in the reviews on the Mac App Store, this app does have one slight issue: it doesn’t work in fullscreen mode. One user also noted that the app would be even more useful with support for Apple’s EarPods’ media buttons, but there’s always the future for that. As for the fullscreen mode issue, that seems like more of a bug than left out feature.

Perfect for What It Does

If you're going to use it daily, be sure to switch this on.

If you’re going to use it daily, be sure to switch this on.

Let me be short: there’s not a simpler way to control YouTube with your media keys. All this app needs is a fix for the fullscreen mode compatibility and it’ll be set. Headphone support is optional, really. And for 99 cents, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t get Tube Controller.


It's the best — and only, to my knowledge — way to control YouTube with your media keys. The only thing is, it doesn't work when your browser is in fullscreen mode.