A lot of the time when I’m working on the Mac, I have iTunes playing. This works well, and doesn’t appear to put any real load on the computer. As I use the Spaces feature of OS X, iTunes happily sits on its own virtual desktop, leaving my screen free for either Lightroom (if I’m working on photos) or
Firefox Safari if I’m typing nonsense for Losing it. I can adjust the volume, pause and go back or forwards a track by using the multimedia keys on the Apple keyboard, which also works fine.
But what I didn’t have was a way to see the current artist and track without switching back to iTunes. Not a big deal, but a minor inconvenience. And like a lot of minor inconveniences, there’s a simple solution. All I needed was an add-on piece of software: and iTunes controller. I saw some reviews, and one that I’d heard Good Things about was TuneBar. It’s a nicely unobtrusive thing which sits in the menu bar. At its most basic, it gives you controls for the music. You can configure what information you’d like to have on show in the menu bar. I’ve settled on artist and title, after an experiment of adding the album title as well made it get confused. What seemed to happen was that if the total amount of text was too long, it would bump into the menus of some applications, and would temporarily disappear. This seemed a bit random, and I thought it might be broken at first, but I think it’s just a sign that I need a bigger monitor.
The app has lots of options – it can display more information, drop down a bar with more controls, and can be skinned to suit most people’s wants. I played with the trial for a couple of days before deciding that I liked it and wanted to keep it. Registration costs $12, which came out as £6.16 via PayPal, which I’d call good value. If you’re using iTunes on a Mac, TuneBar is worth a try.