Most applications let you interact with and control them in several ways: by clicking on-screen buttons, choosing menu items, and using your keyboard. Using menu items is probably the slowest way, but it doesn’t tax your memory; you just need to know in which menu to look for the function you seek. Clicking buttons is easy, for those buttons that are present, but requires that you use your mouse or trackpad to move your cursor. But keyboard shortcuts can be the fastest way to perform actions, as long as you can remember them. Here are 10 great keyboard shortcuts that can save you time as you work with iTunes.
1. The space bar
This is probably the most practical iTunes keyboard shortcut. If you have an item selected (song, video, audiobook, podcast, and so on), press the space bar to start playing it; press the space bar again to pause. For more on specific playback controls, see “Control iTunes with your keyboard”.
If you’re like me, you may sometimes be listening to music, then want to look around in your iTunes library, or browse the iTunes Store. If you want to get back to the currently playing track, you may need to click a lot to find where you were; or you can just press Command-L. iTunes will take you to the item in the location where you started playing it: your library, a playlist, iTunes DJ, or a shared library.
This shows or hides the Column Browser. Discussed in detail in “Making the most of the iTunes Column Browser”, the feature is a great way to view the contents of your libraries or playlists.
When you rip new files, or add files you’ve obtained in digital form, you may need to edit their tags. Command-I brings up the info window for either single or multiple tracks, depending on whether you’ve selected one file or many.
5. Command-1 through Command-7
If you look at the above window, you’ll note that there are seven tabs. The Command-number shortcuts for this window are very practical when you are tagging files: just press the Command key along with a number for each tab: 1 for the first tab (Summary), 2 for Info, and so on. You can zip through the tabs with speed and precision.
6. Command-P and Command-N
As you tag files, and have the above window open for individual tracks, you may need to change, say, titles for a number of tracks. At the bottom of the window there are Previous and Next buttons, but we keyboard mavens know that there’s no need to reach for the mouse when we want to move through tracks; just press Command-P to go to the previous track, and Command-N for the next track.
If you’ve selected a bunch of tracks, and want to make a new playlist with those tracks, just press this shortcut combo. The playlist gets added to your sidebar, and the name is highlighted so you can change it. You can do this with tracks that are contiguous (sequential), or non-contiguous; for the latter, click on one track, then hold down the Command key, and click on others to select them.
9. Command-Option-3, Command-Option-4, Command-Option-5 and Command-Option-6
These are the four shortcuts that let you switch among the different views in the iTunes window: List, Album List, Grid, and Cover Flow. You can learn more about view options in “Pick the perfect view options in iTunes”.
This shortcut brings up the iTunes visualizer, which gives you trippy visuals while you listen to your music. You may not want to use this all the time, but it can be fun for parties.
Finally, one bonus keyboard shortcut: Command-Q, which quits iTunes (and most every other app out there). Because silence can be music too.
[Senior contributor Kirk McElhearn writes about more than just Macs on his blog Kirkville. Twitter: @mcelhearn Kirk’s latest book is Take Control of iTunes 10: The FAQ.]