How can I use the media keys (previous track, play/pause, next track) for Spotify instead of iTunes? OS X 10.9.4


13 Answers 13


If you use the Spotify desktop app, the media keys on OS X work by default (sometimes iTunes randomly "retains" the keys: just reboot). For the best results, don't keep iTunes and Spotify open at the same time.

If you use the Spotify Web Player, you can enable the media keys using BeardedSpice, a free application which enables you to control web-based media players using you keyboard media keys. It also works for YouTube, for example.

  • iTunes killed but media keys didn't work. I solved using bowtie
    – Rampo
    Aug 25, 2014 at 22:29
  • 7
    This is an answer. BeardedSpice is awesome. Thank you.
    – Paschalis
    Jul 11, 2015 at 17:09
  • Works great in Yosemite (10.10.4) Jul 15, 2015 at 20:34
  • Link to BeardedSpice looks like spam now. Mar 25, 2016 at 19:09
  • Ugh. I changed it to the new developer's site on GitHub.
    – pietrodn
    Mar 26, 2016 at 9:14

If nothing helps to make Spotify take over the keys, check if you have Google Music installed in Chrome apps, because it always takes over these keys. Removing the Chrome app immediately makes media keys to work in Spotify.

  • The question is about spotify ....
    – Matteo
    May 12, 2017 at 12:41
  • @Matteo better?
    – Ogggrrr
    May 13, 2017 at 14:05
  • 13
    This was the correct answer for me. The issue seemed to show up only after upgrading to Mac OS High Sierra for some reason. Sep 29, 2017 at 17:25
  • I would have never in a million years guessed, but this solved it for me. Thanks Ogggrrr!
    – Ryan James
    Mar 4, 2018 at 17:34
  • This worked for me! I don't think I had Google Music per se, but Chrome was running in the background. I quit Chrome and the media keys immediately started working for Spotify. I already had the MacOS Music app closed.
    – Adam
    Apr 17, 2019 at 17:11

I've found this helper application : Magic Keys ; Graciously written in a generic way by the creator of the Gear music player.

iTunes still sometimes pops us when using a Bluetooth control however, but it's minimal and non-intrusive and works well otherwise.

  • 1
    Magic keys is the only thing that works for me. Thanks! I installed it from your answer a couple years ago, and then when I upgraded to Mojave it was disabled, and I went hunting for a solution and found your answer again - so I checked and sure enough once I enabled it the magic returned. Nov 24, 2018 at 18:25
  • Unfortunately this is no longer working in Mojave (10.14.3)
    – Jethro
    Feb 26, 2019 at 9:12
  • 1
    @Jethro Latest release working for me on Mojave 10.14.4: github.com/zsszatmari/MagicKeys/releases May 28, 2019 at 15:14

You can download Bowtie. Although the developers have stopped developing this app, you can still use it to control Spotify, Rdio, and iTunes with media keys.

  • Ok, bowtie worked, but I had to use fn+media keys because them alone didn't work
    – Rampo
    Aug 25, 2014 at 22:28
  • 1
    Head over System Preferences » Keyboard and make sure you don’t use F1, F2, etc as standard keys.
    – sayzlim
    Aug 26, 2014 at 4:24

You can go into System Preference - Users&Groups - Login Items, then disable iTune and Spotify at startup, restart, then start Spotify which triggers Spotify helper to take priority control of the media keys ... Good luck !!!


The keys didn't work for me on OSX10.10, while they normally do. I launched and quit iTunes. After that, Spotify responded to the media keys again. Even play/pause without launching iTunes. This may be because I tweaked OS X to stop launching iTunes when pressing play/pause (I can't remember for sure.)

Pressing play/pause on a headset does still launch iTunes.


My solution to the Spotify problem was to go to keyboard shortcuts in account preferences, and assign the > and < keys to perform the "Seek Forward" and "Seek Backward" functions. My media keys have always worked to start and pause playback, and skip or go back a track, but they would not perform the seek function.


There is a small, free and OS tool called MacOS High Sierra Media Key Enabler for iTunes and Spotify.

It proxies media key events to iTunes or Spotify. You can prioritize which app you would like to control or you can go with the default behaviour which controls the running app. The app runs in the menu bar in the form of a subtle and beautiful black dot.

This workaround is needed as Apple in High Sierra changed the behaviour of the media controller keys: they no longer control iTunes, they control the video playback in Safari.


If iTunes is not running, the media keys will work. I just tried it and it works on my Mac.


I've found that having Chrome open prevents the key from working. Closing Chrome makes the keys work again.


I've found a really nice chrome addon: It gives me notifications and uses my mac media keys to control the Spotify web player.

Everything I wanted + it's well maintained by the dev and open source hosted on github.

My main reason atm for using the webplayer is not having any ads.

Blocked them with ublock and these filters:


There is a nice little app called "Spotify Menubar" - you can set keyboard shortcuts via it's preferences. Works perfectly for me with Mojave.


Just go to Users & Groups > Login Items > Delete iTunes Helper from the list.


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