Mac & iOS Basics: Play Next & Previous Tracks Using Your Earbuds

Apple has sold earbuds with a wired remote for many years now, and if you've purchased an iPod touch, iPhone, or a pair on their own, you might not realize how much you can do with that little bar of plastic hanging from your ears. Of course you can play and pause music with the center button, and, if you have them, you can use the top and bottom buttons to control your volume. However, there are several other things you can do with that center button like invoking Siri and changing the currently playing track.

Apple's earbuds include an inline remote (left)Apple's earbuds include an inline remote (left)

First off is the press and hold. On iOS devices which support Voice Control or Siri, pressing and holding the center button on your earbuds' remote will invoke your device's respective feature. This is pretty nifty considering you can get some real stuff accomplished without ever taking your device out of your pocket. But you already know about this feature, don't you.

Moving on to the double and triple clicks. If you're listening to music and you'd like to skip to the next song, all you need to do is double-click the center button. Additionally, if the app you're listening to provides a different function when pressing the "next" button, it will perform said action when you double-click. Triple-clicking the center button will perform the same action as pressing the "previous" button which will either start playing the previous song or, if the song you're currently listening to has gone past the three-second mark, it will restart it from the beginning.

In addition to iOS devices, many of you already know that most modern Macs have support for the earbud remote as well. This means that everything described here should work on your Mac in the exact same way. The number of apps that make use of it are limited, but you can count on it working in iTunes and QuickTime.

I forgot something in that earbud tip. "Now because you all have been such a wonderful crowd, I have a bonus tip for you. On iOS devices which sport a camera, the center button on your earbuds can be used as a remote shutter trigger. All you need to do is open the camera app and press the button when you want to snap a photo. Perfect if you ever use your iPhone on a tripod.

Now go dig out your earbuds and enjoy those fancy little guys!