Why I Miss Coversutra’s Growl Support

Ok. Don’t judge either the music or the 11 overdue Omnifocus tasks.

Coversutra had Growl support before version 2.5/3. I liked to use the Music Video view. I thought it was pretty cool. Music Video styled Growl notifications look like this:

Growl - Music Video

The music video view is big, but not really a problem because I don’t click things at the bottom of the screen.

As of Mac App Store Coversutra, Growl support was removed. I still want notifications when a track changes so I need to use Coversutra’s built-in notifications. It’s a window that pops up underneath Coversutra’s menu bar icon in the upper right.

Ok. Not a big deal, but sometimes this happens:

coversutrapopup

A notification pops up at the same time I want to click something underneath the notification, usually a browser tab or a search box. So I have to wait for the notification to fade away in order to take an action. If it fades away, but not completely, the notification pops up 100% again when I hover my cursor over that area and I have to wait another few seconds.

It’s a minor annoyance that I used to not have to deal with, but now I deal with it at least a few times a week.

Ian Hines’s Coversutra Shortcuts

I like them. His search shortcuts are so obvious I’m almost embarrassed I didn’t think of them earlier.

However, I’ve been using Launchbar to do iTunes searches for three reasons:

  1. I think it’s faster
  2. You have to take your hands off the keyboard to take actions other than “play” on the search results
  3. You can use “Play Next in iTunes DJ” in Launchbar. Coversutra only offers “Add to iTunes DJ.”

That third one is a biggy for me.

Ian adds:

My only wish would be for a shortcut to trigger a Genius Playlist based on the current track. Currently you can enable/disable Shuffle & repeat, but not Genius Playlists. Hopefully in a future version.

I hope so too, but I don’t think it’s possible in the current version of iTunes. I’d love to do this from Launchbar, but there’s no way to access that Genius button through Applescript. It’s not even an option in the iTunes menus.

EDIT: I’ve disabled iTunes indexing in Launchbar to give Coversutra another shot with these shortcuts.

iTunes Controllers

With Sophiestication taking heat over Coversutra 2.5 a lot of suggestions of other iTunes controllers have been popping up. I’ve tried out the following:

  • Bowtie
  • Tracks
  • TunesArt

All three of these are good iTunes controllers, but here’s why I’m sticking with Coversutra.

Coversutra lets me use shortcuts for rating music a specific star rating.

coversutra25ratingsshortcuts

None of these, with the exception of TunesArt, lets me do this.

You can increase and decrease ratings through shortcuts. Here are the shortcut preferences for Bowtie 1.3:

bowtieshortcuts

But increase/decrease ratings shortcuts don’t feel right to me. You need to think about too many things. What is the current rating of the track? What is it now that I’ve hit that shortcut 2 times? Did it stick? Is there a bezel or something that pops up to confirm my rating?

I’d rather hit a shortcut to rate something a specific number of stars than to have to think about that stuff.

That said, if that stuff isn’t important to you then I highly recommend Bowtie.

So why Coversutra over TunesArt? I just think Coversutra looks nicer.

Short Review of Coversutra 2.5

I’ve been using Coversutra since 2.0. 2.5 is an OK update. Some visual differences in this version. The text in the controller window looks heavier.

Screen shot 2011-01-06 at 3.17.15 PM.png

The option to use Growl for track notifications has been removed. I kind of miss them, but I’ll probably get used to their absence. It kind of makes sense to completely remove them if you don’t want to get distracted so much. For now I disabled track notifications, thinking that if I want to see what’s playing I can just look at the album artwork on the desktop.

Man, that desktop artwork is big.

Screen shot 2011-01-06 at 3.16.16 PM.png

No big new features. I can only think of two features I’d like to see.

  1. Let me skip to the next album without having to show iTunes
  2. Let me hit that Genius button without having to show iTunes

After poking around in the iTunes Applescript dictionary I’m not sure if it’s possible to do that.

Coversutra is App Store only now. Some people are getting their panties in a bunch since they expected free upgrades until version 3 (it said it right in the Coversutra preferences). I don’t think charging the $5 for 2.5 is a big deal, but that’s just me. I can see how it’s not the price, but the principle.

Still, Coversutra 2 was released like 2 years ago. I got my license from a Macheist. With the Mac App Store it’s clear that the game has changed. It’s only $5.

Coversutra is still my favorite iTunes controller.

EDIT: Be aware of some shortcomings with manually managed iPods and iOS devices. If you play your music off a manually managed iPod or listen to music with your iPhone / iPod Touch as a source, Coversutra will not update ratings. Ratings are reflected in Coversutra, but not in iTunes.

A System For Global Keyboard Shortcuts

I used to never use keyboard shortcuts, but these days a few of them are so ingrained in my brain that I can’t live without them. On the keyboards I use, the S key is beginning to fade. It starts with Command (or CTRL) + S. From there you begin copying and pasting with keyboard shortcuts and within a week you get a little irritated when you need to use the mouse for something, or when some application (for instance, some programs from Microsoft and Adobe) uses non-standard keyboard shortcuts.

But what about GLOBAL shortcuts? What do you do on your Mac (or PC) that you need to do no matter what application is active?

Music Playback

No matter if you use an app like Coversutra or just Quicksilver, once you begin to control iTunes with your fingertips you’ll never want to go back to the old way of stopping what you are doing, switching to iTunes, and picking up where you left off. Quickly muting, rating, and forwarding to the next song is a wonderful way to work without having to stop any flow.

On Macs, what’s worked for me is this:

CTRL+OPTION+(whatever you want here)

I’ve reserved CTRL+OPTION for iTunes functions (with the exception of Omnifocus for spacebar). Want to go forward? That’s CTRL+OPTION+Right Arrow. Rate the currently playing song 3 stars? CTRL+OPTION+3. Playback/Pause? CTRL+OPTION+P. It goes on like that and works for me.

Coversutra Shortcuts - 3/14/09

Keyboard shortcuts in Coversutra

Being able to quickly rate songs like this is essential to bending iTunes to your liking, I’ve argued.

Make some app active

There are some apps that sit in the background all day that you want open, but not active. For me these are typically messaging apps like Adium and Twitterrific. To bring these up, I just hit:

CTRL+OPTION+COMMAND+(whatever you want here)

For instance, to bring up Adium I use CTRL+OPTION+COMMAND+D. For Twitterrific I use CTRL+OPTION+COMMAND+T

Not all apps let you assign a global shortcut like this. For those instances you could build a trigger in Quicksilver. I’ve switched to Launchbar which, unfortunately, doesn’t offer triggers. If you use the site-specific-browser Fluid you can assign each SSB a shortcut like this. I’ve assigned CTRL+OPTION+COMMAND+R to Google Reader to it the active app when it’s running.

Other uses

Global shortcuts like this are really useful for actions you want to take right now. Task apps developers, like the people behind Omnifocus and Things, have made it easy for you to save an idea immediately after hitting a key combo.

The Quick Entry window in Things – by Flickr user Torley

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p>If you want to do something quickly and get back to work, think of how you can get a global keyboard shortcut to do it.</p.