Monday's Mac Gadget
by John F. Braun
Need Remote Control of iTunes? Better Get netTunes!
If you're into music, then you probably know that Apple has the most comprehensive suite of hardware and software products that let you organize, transport and transmit your music just about anywhere. To organize your music, there's iTunes, to transport your music, there's the iPod, and to transmit your music, there's the new AirPort Express, but there's always room for improvement.
One problem that you may have run into is what to do when all your music is one Mac, but you are using another Mac. Sure, you could use a remote control solution like Apple Remote Desktop 2, but this is definitely overkill if all you want to do is control iTunes. Fortunately, netTunes meets this need perfectly.
netTunes is a program that you install on all of your Macs that are either running iTunes, or that you'd like to use to control iTunes. When you install netTunes, you can select to just install the client, or install both the client and the server. The server is only needed on machines that have iTunes and a music library.
After installation, you can configure the server via a handy Preference Pane in your System Preferences. You can choose to start and stop the server, which will only run for 30 minutes in the unlicensed mode. You can also set the server name (which defaults to your Mac's name) and the port on which to listen for client connections. There are also options to allow screen blanking when idle, disconnect clients and quit iTunes when idle, and allow the server to sleep when no clients are connected. Text in the panel explains when you would and wouldn't want to use each of these options. Finally, there's a window that shows connected clients.
netTunes Server Preference Pane
Running the client is much more straightforward. Just start the client and you'll be shown a window listing all of the detected netTunes servers. If you use a firewall, such as the built-in Mac OS X firewall, make sure that it will allow the netTunes port through, otherwise you'll experience the dreaded "spinning beachball of death" as the client tries to contact a server. Once you've connected to a netTunes server, you'll then be presented with an iTunes screen of the server machine, just as if you were sitting at it. You can then perform any operation that you'd be able to perform from the server machine, including switching the output to an AirPort Express destination. Client preferences allow you to adjust the quality of the displayed iTunes, with higher quality resulting in slower response, and lower quality in faster response. There are also options to place client controls in the menu bar, if you'd like to conserve screen real estate.
So take maximum control of your iTunes music system, and try netTunes today!
Have any other gadgets that let you get more control of your Mac? Send an e-mail to John, and he'll give it a shot.
Monday's Mac Gadget is here to help you with those cool things that we all just have to have on our Macs. Shareware, Freeware, Postcardware, Emailware, and even commercial apps, Monday's Mac Gadget is here to help you find and use the best of these programs.
John is a software engineer who works in the corporate R&D group of a Fortune 500 company, focusing on all aspects of communications technology. He has several degrees that claim he knows what he's doing when it comes to computers. After watching co-workers reinstall Windows, search for device drivers, and experience other horrors during the day, he's glad that he comes home to a Mac (compatible) computer. Have any comments, suggestions, or favorite Gadgets? Drop John a line at
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