Finally upgraded my MacBook Pro (Unibody late 2008) from leopard to snow leopard, with a view to go to Lion when it finishes downloading. I've now noticed that hitting the single button on my Etymotic HF-2's no longer play/pauses the media in the active player but launches iTunes if it's not running, and play/pauses iTunes content if iTunes is running. Historically on Leopard, pressing this button would cause the active player to play/pause, be it Spotify, VLC or any other media player (Though spotify and VLC are my most used players)

Anyone know how to return to this behavior?

3 Answers 3


You can do this with ControllerMate:

enter image description here

And a little little AppleScript (each line for each function):

tell application "Spotify" to playpause
tell application "Spotify" to next track
tell application "Spotify" to previous track

If you open QuickTime Player it will silently ignore the play/pause button and prevent iTunes from being opened, if you don't iTunes will still try to play something. Another solution to prevent iTunes from starting is to disable the 'Remote Control Daemon', how to do this is explained in detail on superuser.

  • 1
    Took a minute to figure out the setup, but ControllerMate works perfect, Thanks! Running Mac OSX 10.8.3 There is one lingering issue though. The initial play/pause click on the headphone will still open iTunes. Thereafter, controls continue to work with spotify. Is there a way to disable this with ControllerMate?
    – jpann
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 5:01
  • Unfortunately not. You have to keep QuickTime open.
    – Luke
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 15:44
  • superuser.com/questions/554489/… Commented Jun 10, 2013 at 17:20
  • @Luke, how exactly did you set up the configurations in ControllerMate?
    – user147248
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 22:00
  • 1
    @Courtney it's been a while since I've done this. ControllerMate is pretty much drag and drop. You need to locate the "Apple Mikey HID Driver" in the input dialog and select the right button. While the input device dialog is open pressing buttons will highlight the right device. You want to attach a script to each and use the individual lines above in each of them. What you have should look just like the screenshot - although I forgot to label the two bottom scripts in the picture.
    – Luke
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 22:38

You have to combine both answers posted here.

Configure ControllerMate as described by Luke for your program of choice and apply the Play Button iTunes Patch mentioned by Stephen.

Then you can control your app of choice by using a headphone remote control without starting iTunes.


I believe this will fix your problem MMFix. Let me know if it works!

  • Works for the media keys (yay) but not for the headphone button :( Commented May 29, 2012 at 15:36
  • Oh I lied, it does block the start up of iTunes on the headphone button click, but doesn't pass the play/pause action to spotify/VLC which is what I really want :( Commented May 29, 2012 at 15:43
  • Try this and see if it works any better iTunesPatch.
    – Stephen
    Commented May 29, 2012 at 16:01
  • Nope, same problem :( Commented May 29, 2012 at 22:09

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