How do you control the music player on your Mac? If you use Spotify, you may find it a bit of an inconvenience to quickly navigate through your play queue or skip a song among other things. However, today we’re going to show you how to do that from a small player on your desktop called Bowtie.
Bowtie is a “desktop accessory” that lets you see the music that you’re listening to on iTunes, Spotify, Sonora and Rdio. You can then control your music using customizable keyboard shortcuts. Bowtie also supports Last.fm and has many different themes that you can use to customize the desktop player. You can even develop your own themes; instructions are included with the download.
Bowtie is a Mac app that is featured on our 100 Free Software for Mac OS X list, but today we’re going to show you how to use it in more detail.
Bowtie is easy to download and yes, it’s totally free. Installation as simple as unzipping the folder and dragging the .app file to your applications folder. It works right out the box, but you’ll probably want to customize it a bit before use.
One of the great things about Bowtie is that by default it only shows up when needed. So, until you open Spotify (or iTunes, Sonora, Rdio), you won’t see Bowtie on your desktop. Once you close out Spotify (or any other music application), Bowtie will close as well.
When you first use Bowtie, you’ll want to go into the Preferences menu to customize Bowtie’s behavior, choose a theme, set your keyboard shortcuts, and connect to Last.fm.
One of the things you can customize is the location of the Bowtie player. You can choose to go with the theme’s default, keep it stuck to the desktop, keep it above all windows or keep it mixed in with your other windows.
As I mentioned above, by default Bowtie will only appear when you open an applicable music application (and closes once you close the app). However, you can change that under Window Behavior; you can make it so that Bowtie remains on your desktop at all times.
Next you may want to choose a theme. There are three themes installed by default, but you can browse the many other themes and install the ones you like. You can also delete themes if you decide that they’re not for you. Best of all, you can do all of this from the Bowtie Preferences window.
The details for each player are displayed on the right side. So you can see whether the player shows artwork, shows track info, has controls, has ratings and/or animates while playing. This helps you to choose the right theme based on what you’re looking for. Many themes also have a front and back side (you’ll have to double click the player to see the back side).
This section is pretty self-explanatory. There are already default shortcuts sets for playback, volume, rating and Last.fm, but you can change them if desired.
Finally, you can connect your Last.fm account to Bowtie so that every song you play is scrobbled to your account. This is a nice feature to have if you’re not already using the Last.fm Mac app. This is done through OAuth, so you won’t have to enter your username or password into the Bowtie app.
Controlling Bowtie will of course depend on the specific theme you’re using. Some themes have visible controls so that you can play, pause, go back or go forward and even control the volume.
Others are very simple and just display the artwork of the music you’re listening to. However, you can still use keyboard shortcuts to control your music – as long as you can remember them.
You’ll need to use Spotify to add songs to your play queue or playlist, but once you start playing music, there is no need to go back to the app. It’s all smooth sailing from here.
Bowtie is always just a mouse click away instead and remains on your desktop at all times. This really saves you time since you won’t have to keep switching back and forth between apps. Also, if you’re listening to the radio on Spotify, it’s also useful to see the artwork and track information of songs that you may not be familiar with.
Bowtie is a simple Mac app for those wanting a simple solution for controlling their favorite music player. With Spotify on Mac, you can control it from the dock icon, but it’s a bit clumsy and inconvenient. If you choose to open it full screen, it can also be a pain switching back and forth between spaces/desktops. This is why Bowtie is so useful; it’s always there when you need it.
Do you use Bowtie or a similar app to control your music player? Do you find that it saves you time? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
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