The Great Simplifier: Play iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, and Rdio from One Mac App
The Great Simplifier: Play iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, and Rdio from One Mac App

Music apps have quote demonstrably given us more ways to access and listen to music than ever before. As cool as that is, it can also be a headache to jump between them - say, Pandora, iTunes, Rdio, and Spotify. Assuming you're a Mac person, an incredibly elegant solution exists to your problem: Americo Trading's Music Control, which streamlines the audio control process for Pandora, iTunes, Rdio, and Spotify into one seamless, unobtrusive menu bar app. Not only does this make them all easier to get to, but you no longer have to remember to turn off Pandora before firing up Spotify. Finally! (Bonus: If you have more than one Mac, things get even more interesting; Music Control can also control these apps to and from up to five Macs on the same local network, although this feature does not work with Pandora, as you'll see below.)

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After testing out Music Control, we definitely recommend it if you regularly use any mix of iTunes, Pandora, Rdio and Spotify. It does exactly what it says it does, and installation and use couldn't be easier. We like the mini-dock's simple interface and the fact that it hangs out in the menu bar, without getting in the way. Yes, the $5 asking price might scare off some potential users -- but keep in mind that 20 percent of profits go to the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, to support their efforts to restore music education in public schools. Just by making your life easier, you're giving a dollar to a great program. Here's how to simplify your music life on OS X.

1: Install Music Control

If your Mac is sporting OS X Snow Leopard, Lion, or Mountain Lion, head to the Mac App Store and install this $5 app. To use Music Control on multiple computers on a single network, you'll have to install the app on each computer. Each purchase can be installed on up to five computers, so long as they're all connected to the same iTunes account.

Music Control Step 1

2: Enable universal access

This allows you to control different audio players within the app (and on different computers, if you like). Open up "System Preferences" by clicking the Apple icon in your menu bar, and then click "Universal Access" (or "Accessibility" in OS X Mountain Lion). Select "Enable Access for Assistive Devices." Again, you'll have to do this on each computer with which you want to use the app.

3: Manage Your Music Control Preferences

Now that you have Music Control installed, you'll be able to access the mini-dock and everything else you need through the icon in your menu bar.

music control

Click the settings icon in the bottom right corner to open up Music Control Preferences.

music control

From Music Control Preferences, you can:

  • display album artwork and artist/song title in your menu bar;
  • enable remote control capability by clicking "Control this Mac from other local network Macs;" and
  • select a computer to control from a list of automatically detected Macs on your local network. Each computer must have Music Control installed to be detected by Music Control in order for this part to work.

4: Search for and Listen to Music on iTunes, Rdio, and Spotify

To begin searching for music, click the magnifying glass in the top right corner and search an artist name in the search box that appears. Your search will generate a list of available albums by the artist. Hovering over the album icon will show which music players the album is available on. Click on an album name to start listening immediately.

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5: Manage Music Playback

Whether you're controlling music on your own computer or another one in your home or office, you can adjust volume, play, pause, skip, and switch between music players all in one place. Whenever you're connected to another computer, a cloud will appear behind the settings icon.

music control

To switch computers, just head back to the Music Control Preferences (see step 3) and choose another machine.

Other features:

  • Add songs to a favorites list by clicking the heart icon
  • Share what you're listening to on Facebook and Twitter
  • Scrobble to Last.fm


6: Add Pandora to the Mix

You can only use Music Control with Pandora on one computer. Make sure the app isn't controlling another remote computer, then head to Music Control Preferences, click the Pandora tab, and simply enter your account information. If you don't have a Pandora account already, you can register for one here.


After you've saved you're account information, click on the Pandora icon in the mini-dock and Music Control will sign into your account automatically. Now, you can access all of your previously made radio stations -- or click on the magnifying glass to create a new one.

And that's basically all there is to setting up and using Music Control on a Mac. Enjoy!

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Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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