During the day, I work as a software developer. I spend 8 hours or more in front of a computer screen, and there are a tonne of utilities I use to make my day more efficient. Generally, the developer community is good about hyping these utilities.

When I come home and sit in front of my laptop (or more likely, lay in bed with my laptop), the programs I use can be summarized by iTunes, FireFox, and VLC.

FireFox has so many plug-ins to spice up your browsing experience, and VLC is basically just a video player, so no real need to increase productivity there. iTunes has always been a pain in the ass for me though. I like to listen to music pretty much all day, and when I’m at home browsing the internet, I like to have it on in the background.

Now that the internet is filled with multimedia, YouTube, bands on MySpace, various other video and audio sites, I found myself switching between iTunes and FireFox constantly so that I could pause my music while watching or listening to some clip.

I know this sounds like a minor inconvenience, but it’s these little things on computers that drive me nuts. Finally I was fed up enough to try and find a solution to this problem.

First, I looked for a plug-in for FireFox that would allow me to control iTunes without haven’t to switch programs. I found one with one quick Google search called FoxyTunes. It integrates seamlessly along the bottom of the FireFox window, and allows you to see what song is playing, pause/play, skip forward and back. It allowed me to do pretty much all I wanted. Also, it will automatically pause iTunes if you browse to YouTube video…. pretty awesome feature.

Additionally, it syncs up somehow with Word Press to allow you to inject what song you’re currently listening to.

Now playing: The Strokes – The Modern Age
via FoxyTunes

I’m sure I won’t use this feature much, but it’s cool nonetheless.

FoxyTunes solved the problem of having to switch programs back and forth, but I prefer keyboard shortcuts over mouse movements. Also, FireFox isn’t the only program that I use along with iTunes, and I wanted to map iTunes controls to quick keyboard commands that would allow me to pause my music and skip tracks from whatever program I’m using. Thankfully a few message board threads recommended quite a few options for OS X (I’m sure there are others for Windows users, but I’ll let you figure that on your own).

The one I ended up choosing is called Butler. It has a lot of other features besides just system wide iTunes keyboard controls, it sits right in the top menu bar and provides a Google search bar, and shortcuts to a lot of important folders. All this is customizable too, so go nuts.

I was able to shave SECONDS off my browsing times, which in the long run will allow me to watch so many more videos of people getting hit in the nuts.