I love my MacBook Pro. I hate iTunes. I don’t think I’m alone. Yet every time I hit the “Play” button on my keyboard, or connect a Bluetooth speaker, iTunes shows up, mocking me.
Ideally, I’d never see iTunes again. I use Vox to listen to music, and I don’t need Apple’s music player/music store/TV and movie store/iPhone and iPad backup tool/desktop App Store browser/subscription streaming service/podcast directory/resource hog. Is there some way to stop this from happening?
As it turns out, yes. There have been many tricks for this over the years, as different methods keep breaking with new versions of macOS, but here’s what works now. I tested it on macOS Sierra, but it may work on earlier versions as well.
How to Stop iTunes From Hijacking the Play Key
First, head to Applications > Utilities and open the Terminal. Alternatively, you can search for Terminal with Spotlight.
Once you’ve got the Terminal open, run this command:
launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.rcd.plist
Here’s a quick breakdown of what this all means, so it feels a little bit less like a magic spell:
launchctlis a simple application on your Mac for controlling agents that run in the background.
- The word
launchctlyou want to disable a particular agent.
/System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.rcd.plistis the location of the agent you are disabling. Agents run in the background; this one launches iTunes when the “Play” key is pressed.
Once you’ve run the command, try pressing Play on your keyboard. Nothing happens!
If you want to avoid iTunes even more, I’d also suggest you change the default application for music files, otherwise opening those might launch iTunes.
How to Undo This Setting (and Restore the Default Behavior)
To undo this magical change, you just need to run this command:
launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.rcd.plist
As you can see, this is nearly identical to the previous command, just with the word
load instead of
Press Play, and iTunes will reappear as it used to.