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Pressing the play button on earphones opens up iTunes. Is there a way I can prevent this from happening without installing any third party programs? I would preferably want to control Spotify with my earphones.

3 Answers 3

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Not if there's nothing currently playing. Play controls will try to resume the last thing you played that is still running and in memory. If the OS can't find anything to resume, it will default to iTunes.

All media applications are equal; but, iTunes is more equal. 😉

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    I see. However, in my case Spotify is running in the background yet the play controls still won't control it. Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 17:04
  • This is incorrect. I have a 2015 Macbook running High Sierra, and no matter what other music apps I have running, playing or paused, a press of the play button on my bluetooth headphones makes iTunes start up. Commented Apr 9, 2020 at 15:36
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If you are running Sierra, open the terminal and type:

sudo chmod -x /Applications/iTunes.app/Contents/MacOS/iTunes  

No more launching iTunes when you press play, since the command stops it from being executable.

However, this will completely disable iTunes: The application "iTunes.app" can't be opened.

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    Doesn't work in High Sierra. FYI.
    – Jake
    Commented Jul 15, 2018 at 19:23
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Without third party software you can't prevent this, however, there is a patch for the Remote Control Daemon: https://github.com/thebitguru/play-button-itunes-patch

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  • "Please note that this patch does not work on macOS High Sierra and later versions."
    – Matt Ball
    Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 2:52

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