Promising Prospect: Funes

If you’re like me, you rate much of the music in your iTunes library, using those ratings to create Smart Playlists. For example, I’ve got a playlist for tracks rated 5 (my all-time favorites) and another for tracks rated 2 or 1 (songs I don’t like much and I eventually want to disable or delete, respectively). I also have a Smart Playlist containing tracks with no rating; whenever I’m in a rating mood, I listen to that playlist and rate each song as it plays.

But it's inconvenient to have to switch to iTunes just to assign a rating. Synergy ( ) and CoverSutra ( ) let you assign keyboard shortcuts for rating tracks, but some people are fans of the point-and-click approach (or just don’t need something as full-featured as these utilities). A couple older Gems that proved popular with readers were Rating Bar ( ), reviewed in 2004, and iTunesRating ( ), reviewed in 2005. Each added a system-wide menu for rating the current iTunes track. Unfortunately, neither is compatible with Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5).

Over on MacUser, Dan Moren recently pointed out a new solution, Fousa’s free Funes, currently at version 0.2. When listening to a track in iTunes, a click on Funes’ menu-bar icon displays the name of the track and its current rating (or lack thereof); you just click on the appropriate star to assign the desired rating.

Funes menu
Funes' menu: an unrated track (left); after rating the track (right)

Sure, you can right-click on the iTunes icon in the Dock, then mouse up to the Rating submenu, and then choose a rating. But I find Funes’ menu-bar approach to be more accessible.

On the other hand, Funes is still a work in progress. For example, if you accidentally rate the wrong track—say you click on a rating just as the track is changing—and want unrate it, there’s no obvious way to do so. (The not-so-obvious solution is to double-click on the first star.) And unlike standard Mac OS X menu behavior, Funes’ rating bar doesn’t flash momentarily when you click on a rating, so you get no visual feedback of the action. Whenever I clicked on a rating, I wondered if I instead clicked in an open area of the menu, or missed the menu completely, causing the menu to close without performing any action at all.

Rating Bar's menu

Finally, I wish Funes provided the option to display—and let you choose—the actual rating right in the menu bar, as Rating Bar and iTunesRating did (see the image to the right). Although such an approach uses more menu-bar space, it makes it easy to see, at a glance, the current track’s rating.

Still, I’m glad to see a developer filling the void left by Rating Bar and iTunesRating; I’m looking forward to seeing Funes mature.

Funes is currently compatible with Mac OS X 10.5 or later.

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