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Is it possible to set Spotify as the default program when the "media" keys (play, pause, previous, next, etc) are pressed on the Mac keyboard?

For the most part when Spotify is open, the "media" keys work fine. But every once and a while iTunes will pop up when you hit them. It'd be a lot nicer if you could just specify that Spotify is the default program when these keys are triggered, as oppose to iTunes.

If it matters, I'm using Mountain Lion.

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A similar question at Super User: What can I do to stop the Play / Pause button from opening iTunes? – user495470 Sep 5 '12 at 9:53

Lifehacker ran an article about this very problem a while back for Snow Leopard.

The tricks we used before were far less than ideal, requiring you to start up QuickTime in the background, or do some serious hacking to system files within NoMitsu has created a one-click installer that patches the remote control daemon, the app responsible for managing the media keys. Just download the patch and double-click on it. After entering your password, your media keys will be free from iTunes' grasp.

I presume you have already tried this. As I recall the media keys will control the last program that was active so if Spotify was the last media app you had open (and is currently open) then the media keys will control that. Hope this helps you out.

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I find this problem happens for me inconsistently, so I use this fairly destructive approach when it happens:

  1. Open up "Activity Monitor", which can be found easily using Spotlight
  2. Select either "CPU" or "Memory" from the pills at the top of the dialog
  3. In the search box, top right, type: itunes
  4. "ituneshelper" is what you're looking for. Find it, click on it, then select "Force kill"
  5. Accept the confirmation

Spotify also has a helper running. My guess is that it depends which one loads first.

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Instead of killing it every time, you could disable it in your login items, thanks though, was driving me nuts – geermc4 May 20 '15 at 4:13
Didn't work for me. – Steve Moser Jul 23 '15 at 15:34
or "killall iTunesHelper" from the shell ? – Elvis Ciotti Apr 24 at 17:10

Adding on to what @sjg said, you could have Spotify opened at startup (presuming that you don't care for iTunes to open at startup) so that you can have the media keys work with Spotify right from login. Again, this is only a workaround and not really a full solution, but if you want it to be opened at startup, go to Spotify>Preferences and scroll down to "Open Spotify automatically after you login to the computer" and select Open automatically.

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there is an option on the keyboard to either use the traditional F1, F2, etc keys, or the special features. Maybe you have selected the traditional mode.

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You can go to your Applications library and manually delete in the terminal using:

cd ~/../../.. should take you back far enough, cd into Applications, then sudo rm -r

Won't automatically make Spotify your default media player but iTunes will no longer exist on your computer.

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The question is not how to remove iTunes, but how to change keyboard behavior. Removing an app provided with the OS is a dangerous way to solve the play button sporadically opening iTunes. – samh Apr 8 at 18:31

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