Enrich Your iTunes Experience With GeekTool & TunesArt [Mac]

00-TunesArt-logo.jpgI don’t think I need to give a long introduction to iTunes as many consider it to be the best digital music manager and player available today. MakeUseOf has even dedicated an entire PDF Manual for it: The BIG Book of iTunes.

But even the best will still have room for improvement. I was looking for a GeekTool script to display my “currently playing” song’s data on the desktop when I found TunesArt. After playing with the app for a while, I consider TunesArt as one of those must-have iTunes software downloads.

And combined with GeekTool, TunesArt would create a lovely and functional iTunes desktop.

Tunes at your finger tips

TunesArt is a menubar application that will do its job while sitting quietly in the background. If you click on it when iTunes is not active, you’ll have the option to turn on iTunes.

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And if iTunes is running, you’ll get full iTunes control and more right from the menubar; including the ability to set the song rating, option to display lyrics, title and artist of the currently playing song.

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One of the true strengths of TunesArt is the ability to assign shortcut key to various iTunes control. So, even if your fingers are busy typing your next best seller, you could tell iTunes to skip the track that you hate without even have to leave the word processor.

To activate this ability, you have to go to TunesArt Preferences, and open the “Shortcuts” menu. Check the “Enable Hotkeys” option, and click in the shortcut fields to assign your preferred combination for each available control.

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The Preferences window gives you many other options to tinker with. From the General menu, you can choose whether iTunes will launch and quit along with TunesArt and whether you want to fetch lyrics from the net and attach it to the songs with no lyrics.

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On the eye-candy side, we have Cover Art and Notification menu. The Cover Art menu lets you choose which cover art style you want displayed on the desktop.

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Meanwhile, the Notification menu deals with how (and for how long) you want TunesArt to display notifications every time iTunes plays the next song. You can use TunesArt’s own notification, or Growl (or both).

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TunesArt notification will appear under the menubar icon.

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If you want to, you can activate the Last.fm feature that will connect you to Last.fm and send the list of songs you’ve listened to and recommend other songs based on the list.

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It’s obvious that you need to have a Last.fm account before you can use this feature.

Tunes on your desktop

TunesArt  is an iTunes software downloads that will place a cover art image of the playing song on your desktop. And if you activate the feature from Preferences – Cover Art, playback controls will appear everytime you hover your mouse near the cover art display.

The lyrics display is a nice addition for those who like to sing along. You could edit (and add) the words directly from this window. TunesArt also has a (supposedly) very nice feature to add lyrics to songs automatically from the internet. But from during my few days of trying the app, this feature was always non-functional.

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User could do a quick search of iTunes library via the search window and jump to the chosen song. Assuming that you have set the shortcut key combination, all the navigationa could be done without lifting a single finger from the keyboard.


The geek and the tune combo

As I mentioned at the beginning, I use TunesArt in conjunction with GeekTool script to display iTunes information. The duet is proven to work wonders in beautifying my desktop.

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The GeekTool script that I use is:

osascript -e ‘tell application “iTunes” to if player state is playing then get XXXXXX of current track’

where XXXXXX is one of the metadata of the song such as: name, artist, album, etc. You can get more metadata fields by referring to iTunes’ column headings.

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Please refer to my previous article about GeekTool on how to utilize the scripts.

Some drawbacks

Please note that you will not be able to close iTunes if you are using the above iTunes script in GeekTool. The script will keep on re-opening iTunes everytime you try to close it. This issue will not be a problem for those who always keep iTunes open. The possible solution is to put the scripts in a different group with other script so you could uncheck and deactivate them anytime without disturbing the rest of the scripts.

I’ve also mentioned one bug that I found in TunesArt — fetching lyrics. Maybe because it’s still in its beta version, the lyric searching feature of TunesArt is still not working. Hopefully the developer will fix this issue in the future release.

Personally, the drawbacks are minor issues. I found the GeekTool – TunesArt combination to be truly amazing – a great alternative to Bowtie in terms of appearance, and to GimmeSomeTunes (mentioned here) in terms of functionality.

Do you know other alternative iTunes software downloads to enrich your iTunes experience? Please share using the comment below.

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