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Computers

Control iTunes on your Mac by wagging your finger

ControlAir lets you skip songs, adjust volume and pause music with a simple movement of your hand.

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ControlAir controls for iTunes. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

There are a lot of different ways to control media playback on your Mac. You can use the built-in keys on the keyboard, the Today widget, the mini-player, an app on your iOS device, and the list goes on.

Today, you can add yet another way to control music Mac using your Mac's iSight camera and your hand. The magical control experience comes in the form of a free app called ControlAir.

After installing ControlAir from the Mac App Store, you're guided through a brief tutorial that doubles as a setup process.

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ControlAir setup screen. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

In short, you raise your hand with your index finger pointing up. The camera on your Mac identifies the gesture, and brings up ControlAir's controls. Moving your finger down selects the highlighted control, be it skipping a song or cranking up the volume.

ControlAir suggests being within 1 to 5 feet of the camera for best results, although I was able to use it from across the room (roughly 10 feet, 3 meters) on more than one occasion when testing.

There's an elephant in the room we need to address: the fact your Mac's camera is left on the entire time you're using the application, watching your every move. The app's controls live in the menu bar of your Mac, making it easy to pause or quit the application at anytime should you feel the need.

If you're OK with that, you'll be glad to know ControlAir also handles playback commands for the following apps:

  • iTunes
  • Spotify
  • VLC
  • QuickTime Player
  • VOX
  • Rdio