Convenient iTunes 11 keyboard shortcuts

You can optimize how you use iTunes 11 by using various keyboard shortcuts available in the program.

Topher Kessler MacFixIt Editor
Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.
Topher Kessler
3 min read

Beyond the basic arrow key navigation and space bar to start and stop song playback, there are a few other keyboard shortcuts in iTunes 11 that can be used to help you navigate its features.

Since the release of iTunes 11, a few convenient keyboard shortcuts have been revealed that offer quick ways to manage playback, navigate the windows, or otherwise deal with some of iTunes' common functions. As with most programs, various shortcuts can be found in the application's menus. However, along with these there are some hidden options that may prove convenient.

Clear play queue
When playing songs in iTunes, we often use the space bar to play and pause a song; however, this does not fully stop playback of the songs in queue. Instead, it functions as a pause command -- when you press the space bar again, the song resumes where it left off. If you would like to stop the playback of the current song in the play queue you can "cancel" it by using the common "Command-period" keyboard shortcut for cancel operations in OS X. A variation on this is to press the space bar followed by the right-arrow key to select the next song without playing it.

Select sections in iTunes
iTunes organizes content into Music, Movies, TV Shows, Books, Apps, and other categories based on what you have purchased from the iTunes store or what you have added to your library. You can select these areas of iTunes by holding the Command key and then typing a corresponding number key:

  • Command-1 = Music
  • Command-2 = Movies
  • Command-3 = TV shows
  • Command-4 = Podcasts
  • Command-5 = iTunes U
  • Command-6 = Books
  • Command-7 = Apps

Adding songs to Up-Next
One of the changes in iTunes 11 is the "Up Next" feature. If you hold the Option key down, a plus button will appear next to the song under your mouse cursor. If clicked, this will put the song in the Up-Next queue. In addition you can simply press Option-Enter to add a selected song to the queue. This is convenient if you are searching and browsing your library with the arrow keys.

Unfortunately this feature does not work with multiple file selections. If you select more than one song and press the Option key, they will all show a plus button; however, if you then press Option-Enter or click the plus button, only the first selection or that which you click will be added to the Up Next queue. This may be a bug in the program or an upcoming feature, but currently is not an implementation in iTunes 11.

Enable keyboard control for "All controls"
By default, Apple offers keyboard support only for interactive controls such as text boxes and buttons. However, you can enable keyboard commands for all controls by pressing Control-F7 or selecting the "All Controls" radio button in the Keyboard system preferences. This allows you to tab through various toolbar and window elements and activate them with the space bar. In iTunes, this enables you to tab through the play and fast-forward buttons, the volume control, the Up Next menu, and the sidebar and its menus, among other window elements.

Custom shortcuts
While these built-in options are useful in iTunes, you can also assign custom shortcuts to various menu items in iTunes for frequently used controls that do not have a default shortcut. This can be done for any application using the "Keyboard Shortcuts" tab in the OS X Keyboard system preferences.

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