[bct] Re: Invisible Winamp!

  • From: "Dana Niswonger" <dniswonger@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2005 03:11:10 -0600

Hi Kai:
I did this, thanks. I hope to talk with you by phone when you have time. I have free long distance so call me and I'll call back, saving you the cost man.
(704) 525-9766

----- Original Message ----- From: "Kai" <kaixiong@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, November 02, 2005 12:05 PM
Subject: [bct] Invisible Winamp!

Greetings all.

Below is a write-up that I did a while back detailing how to (1) make
Winamp invisible, so you don't have to keep alt-tabbing through it, (2)
create hotkeys to control the application while it's invisible, and (3)
remove its icons from the system tray. These instructions are JFW
influenced, but it should still apply to users of alternate screen
readers. Note that the version of Winamp used in this discussion is
Winamp 5+.

The Invisible Winamp!

    For those of us who can't stand the chore of alt-tabbing from
window to window to find our media player just to make a quick
adjustment or to advance the playlist, or for those of us who hate
having more windows open on the taskbar than necessary, or even for
those of us who just want quick and easy access to our media without the
hassle of negotiating multiple windows and remembering multiple formless
commands (I subscribe to all three schools, go me!): The following
write-up should help alleviate these inconveniences.
    Winamp is designed to be a very modular application. You can
introduce your own skins (interface customizations), window tweaks, and
even change the command input structure. We can take advantage of this
modular construction and:
* Completely eliminate the presence of the Winamp window,
* In doing so, we remove the hassle of interacting with the Winamp
* We can still control various functions that we don't always access via
the system tray,
* We can freely open or close the Winamp application without it ever
getting in the way,
* All the controls to the media player are at our fingertips,
* We can change what media we're listening to, alter the play volume,
navigate through the currently playing media, or even access Winamp's
library at our whim to access online material,
* A slew of many other Winamp commands are now just a keystroke away.

    We can achieve this level of instantaneous control with Global
Hotkeys, a feature included in Winamp which few people have come to
truly appreciate. Global Hotkeys give us access to many of Winamp's
commands. There are admittedly a few gaps, but perhaps these will be
fixed in future versions.

    Switch to the Winamp window (hopefully for the last few times!).
Once you're in the Winamp main window (or any other Winamp window such
as the playlist editor), access the preferences dialog with a CTRL-P. If
upon entering the preferences dialog you did not land on the tree view
of various categorical options, TAB or SHIFT-TAB accordingly until you
have done so. Once here, move to the top of the list, which should be
"Winamp Pro".
    You will notice that I will be skipping over a lot of fields and/or
options. This is because I'm only covering the fields which apply to our
goal: chucking Winamp's window and gaining us nearly full keyboard
control from anywhere.

    Move down to the "General Preferences" branch of the tree. TAB
twice and make sure that your desired language is selected (for most of
us, that will be "English (US)"). If your desired language is not listed
here, you may TAB to the "Find more languages" button and hit enter here
to try and track down yours. This step goes beyond the scope of this
write-up, and therefore will not be discussed here.
    TAB repeatedly until your focus lands on the "Show splash screen"
checkbox. Since we're getting rid of Winamp's window anyway, lets make
sure this is unchecked (it'll just be delaying us).
    TAB about four times from this point and your focus should land on
"Taskbar", which is an option in the "Show Winamp in:" group of options.
We will definitely want to uncheck this, since this is the focal point
of our goal (it's the option which will tell Winamp to behave and hide
    TAB once passed the "Taskbar" checkbox, and you should land on the
"System tray                      " field, which is still in the same
group of options. This is actually a personal preference option. Once
you've got all your hotkeys defined and working in good order, you may
elect to uncheck this option to remove still more clutter from your
system as Winamp serves up your media. For now though, lets leave it
unchecked so that, in the event that you need to leave the preferences
dialog before your hotkeys are all set (or heaven forbid, Winamp or
windows crashes somehow), you'll still have a means of interacting with
the Winamp application (via the system tray).
    TAB thrice till you land on the "Scroll title in the Windows
taskbar" field. We're banishing Winamp to the world of the unseen, so
lets uncheck this field. Although it probably won't have any effect
whilst Winamp is happily hiding in the system tray, it's better to be
    We're done here, so lets tab a few times back to the tree view. Our
next stop is further down in the "Titles" branch of the tree view, so
lets navigate down there.

    TAB twice and you will land in a group of three radio buttons which
pertain to the "Metadata Reading" options group. Since we're not going
to actually view the file names as they're playing anyhow, lets change
the option to read as "Read metadata only when file(s) are played". Do
so by the normal means of selecting different radio buttons.
    We're actually done with this branch of the tree view (that was the
only thing we needed to either change or make sure of). Lets SHIFT-TAB
twice back into our tree view.

    Now comes the big and, yes, rather long section of this write-up.
We're going to actually start defining the hotkeys that we'll be using
to control Winamp, now that we've kicked it into the corner to hide
under the bed. Grab a cup of coffee, tea, water, or whatever it is that
suits your fancy, because we'll be here for quite a bit.
    Whilst in the tree view, navigate down to the "Global Hotkeys"
branch. I hope you've got a good supply of coffee or whatever it is
you're sipping, because here we go.

    TAB twice and make sure that the "Enabled" checkbox is checked
(otherwise none of your hotkeys will work, you won't be able to change
anything pertaining to hotkeys, and... this write-up will be completely
    TAB again, and now you should have landed in a list view which
contains some pre-made global hotkeys. My advice is to remove them all
and start anew. It's a longer process, but a much cleaner one. You'll
know exactly what you're adding, and therefore won't be making any
duplicates (which Winamp will yell at you about).
    Begin by making sure you're on the first item in the list view.
Move your mouse cursor (JAWS cursor if you're using JFW) to your focus
(PC cursor in JFW). If this first item isn't already selected, click on
it with the appropriate command from your screen reader or by manually
clicking with the mouse (just make sure the pointer doesn't move in the
process). Once the item is highlighted, hit ALT+R. That item is now
    Click the mouse again, and again the first item in the list will be
selected. Continue to repeat the deletion process till all the entries
in the list view are removed.

    Now a small blurb about how Winamp handles its hotkey labeling.
Before you attempt to make a new entry, you must make sure that there
are no selected items in the list view of defined hotkeys. If there are
no items there to start with, this is easy (there's nothing to be
selected). If there are items, you must make sure that nothing's
selected before you add new hotkeys. You can do this by navigating to
the list view, then hitting either HOME or END to change the highlight.
Now that you're sure the item under the focus is selected, hit
CTRL-SPACE to unselect it.
    Failing to follow this step will cause Winamp to think you're
trying to change the command associated with that entry. You might spend
several minutes blithely creating new hotkeys, when in fact all you've
been doing is modifying the same highlighted entry with new commands or
new hotkeys.

    Lets create our first item. TAB to the combo box that houses all
the possible commands that can be triggered via a hotkey. We'll go in
presented order, so lets choose the first item. Press home, you should
be on "General: Copy file path". TAB over to the "Hotkey" edit field.
Press the desired key combination which you'd like to be associated with
this item (for example, WINDOWS KEY+CTRL+C). Once you're satisfied with
the key combination you've chosen, TAB once to the "Add" button, and hit
    Now that you've created your first item, you must make sure that,
as stated earlier, no items are selected in the list view containing
currently defined hotkeys. If you haven't moved your mouse since
clearing the list of pre-defined hotkeys, it's in the perfect position.
Just click your mouse, hit CTRL-SPACE, then you're ready once more to
create a new hotkey.
    Lets TAB back into that combo box and create a new entry for the
next command, "General: Copy title". Navigate to it in the combo box
(it's the second entry), then TAB once to the "Hotkey" edit field. Press
the desired key combination for this command (WINDOWS KEY+SHIFT+C in my
case). TAB once when you're satisfied with the new key combination and
hit SPACE on the "Add" button.
    Repeat this process for each of the commands in the combo for which
you'd like a hotkey for.
    If you need to change the hotkey for an existing entry: Navigate to
and highlight the entry in question in the list view of defined hotkeys.
TAB twice to the "Hotkey" edit field, then press the new key combination
you wish to have associated with this entry. Once satisfied with the new
key combination, TAB twice to the "Set" button and hit SPACE to change
the entries hotkey definition.
    Remember, always make sure that no entries are selected in the list
view of currently defined hotkeys if you wish to create a new one. If
you're changing an existing entry, never activate the "Add" button,
otherwise you will create a duplicate entry with the new hotkey. You may
find this useful if you'd like having multiple ways of accessing the
same command, but that'll just clutter up your hotkey list and also make
things less conformed (and therefore slightly harder to remember in the

    Below is a list of the contents of the combo box of available
commands accompanied by a small explanation as to what it does. If I've
defined a hotkey for a command in the list, it will be placed after the
description of the command inside braces ({}). Any footnotes are in
brackets ([]).

* General: Copy file path  --  Copies the file path of the currently
playing or highlighted file to the clipboard. {WINDOWS KEY + CTRL + C}
* General: Copy title  --  Copies the title (as displayed by Winamp) of
the currently playing or highlighted file to the clipboard. {WINDOWS KEY
+ SHIFT + C}
* General: Quit  --  Exits Winamp. {WINDOWS KEY + F4}

* ML: Show/Hide Media Library  --  Toggles the "Media Library" window
between being shown (focused) and hidden. This way, you can keep Winamp
hidden, but still access the media library to play an internet radio
station, for example. {WINDOWS KEY + CTRL + M}

* Playback: End of list  --  Moves to and plays the last file in your
playlist (inactive if your playlist has only one item). {WINDOWS KEY +
NUM 3}
* Playback: Forward  --  Fast forward through a media file. {WINDOWS KEY
+ NUM 9}
* Playback: Jump to box  --  Brings up the "Jump to" dialog box, which
allows one to move quickly to a file in a playlist. {WINDOWS KEY + CTRL
+ J}
* Playback: Next in play list  --  Moves to and plays the next file in
the playlist (if any) [1]. {WINDOWS KEY + NUM 6}
* Playback: Open file dialog  --  Brings up the "Open file" dialog which
allows one to open and play a single file. {WINDOWS KEY + NUM PLUS}
* Playback: Open folder dialog  --  Brings up the "Open folder" dialog
which allows one to play entire folders and subfolders. {WINDOWS KEY +
* Playback: Open location dialog  --  Brings up the "Open location"
dialog, which allows one to play a media stream or file with an
* Playback: Pause  --  Pauses the currently playing media file.
* Playback: Play  --  Plays or restarts the playing of a media file.
* Playback: Play/pause  --  Pauses or plays the currently
playing/highlighted media file [1]. {WINDOWS KEY + NUM 5}
* Playback: Previous in play list  --  Moves to and plays the previous
media file in the playlist (if any) [1]. {WINDOWS KEY + NUM 4}
* Playback: Repeat off  --  Unconditionally turns repeat mode off
(whether it was on or off to begin with).
* Playback: Repeat on  --  Unconditionally turns repeat mode on (whether
it was on or off to begin with).
* Playback: Rewind  --  Moves backwards through a currently playing or
highlighted media file. {WINDOWS KEY + NUM 7}
* Playback: Start of list  --  Moves to and plays the first file in the
playlist (assuming there are more than one file). {WINDOWS KEY + NUM 1}
* Playback: Stop  --  Stops the currently playing media file. {WINDOWS
* Playback: Stop after current  --  Stops playback once the currently
playing file has finished. {WINDOWS KEY + CTRL + NUM MINUS}
* Playback: Stop w/fade  --  Stops the current file while fading it out,
instead of an instant stop. {WINDOWS KEY + SHIFT + NUM MINUS}
* Playback: Toggle repeat  --  Toggles the playing of files within the
currently loaded playlist repeatedly (on/off). {WINDOWS KEY + CTRL + NUM
* Playback: Toggle shuffle  --  Toggles the shuffling of files within
the currently loaded playlist (on/off). {WINDOWS KEY + CTRL + NUM SLASH}
* Playback: Volume down  --  Decreases the playing volume of Winamp [1].
* Playback: Volume up  --  Increases the playing volume of Winamp [1].

* Playlist: Remove duplicate entries  --  Remove duplicate entries from
the currently loaded playlist.

* Rate Current Item: *  --  Rates the current file [2]. {WINKEY + CTRL +
1} [4]
* Rate Current Item: **  --  Rates the current file [2]. {WINKEY + CTRL
+ 2} [4]
* Rate Current Item: ***  --  Rates the current file [2]. {WINKEY + CTRL
+ 3} [4]
* Rate Current Item: ****  --  Rates the current file [2]. {WINKEY +
CTRL + 4} [4]
* Rate Current Item: *****  --  Rates the current file [2]. {WINKEY +
CTRL + 5} [4]
* Rate Current Item: No Rating  --  Rates the current file [2]. {WINKEY
+ CTRL + 0} [4]

* UI: About  --  Brings up the "About" dialog, which gives information
about the current version of Winamp, etc. {WINDOWS KEY + CTRL { B}
* UI: Bring to front/hide Winamp  --  Hides or shows the Winamp
application. {WINDOWS KEY + CTRL + W}
* UI: Preferences  --  Brings up the "Preferences" dialog. {WINDOWS KEY
+ CTRL + P}
* UI: Select skin  --  Brings up the "Select skin" dialog, which allows
the user to change the look of Winamp (not recommended for screen reader
* UI: Toggle always on top  --  Toggles Winamp between "Always stay on
top" and normal mode. Note: "Always on top" is not screen reader
* UI: Toggle doublesize  --  Toggle Winamp between "doublesize" and
normal mode (changes size of application window).
* UI: Toggle EQ  --  Toggles the hide/show status of the Winamp graphics
* UI: Toggle main window  --  Toggles the hide/show status of the Winamp
main window.
* UI: Toggle minibrowser  --  Toggles the hide/show status of the Winamp
* UI: Toggle play list  --  Toggles the hide/show status of the Winamp
playlist editor.
* UI: Toggle play list windowshade  --  [3]
* UI: Toggle windowshade  --  [3]

* Visualization: Preferences  --  [3]
* Visualization: Toggle  --  [3]

    [1]: In some instances, this key arrangement is not necessarily the
best. For example, if one is using JFW inside Internet Explorer, the key
combination is intercepted by the screen reader. For example, if one
tries to turn the volume down with {WINDOWS KEY + NUM 2}, JFW will
intercept the keystroke and attempt to perform its own attached script
or command. The easiest way around this, of course, is to not use the
offending key combination. Change the {WINDOWS KEY + NUM 2} to something
like {WINDOWS KEY + SHIFT + NUM 2}, and things should work just fine.
    [2]: The ratings commands allow one to "rate" the currently playing
or highlighted media file according to how much they liked it, etc. The
number of asterisks next to each entry signifies your rating: one
asterisk is worse, five asterisks is best. The "No rating" option is
presumably a "I abstain" choice.
    [3]: I haven't yet used this feature enough to give a fair
definition or explanation of it. Therefore, rather than giving
misleading information, I leave it up to others to interpret those
    [4]: These hotkeys refer to the keys on the numeric row above the
home row, and not those of the number pad.

    Once you've got all your global hotkeys set up, close the
preferences dialog. Close Winamp, then reload it. (The best way to make
it even more invisible is to attach a hotkey to the Winamp shortcut,
that way you don't even have to find the shortcut to open the program.)
If all went well, you should now have a completely invisible, fully
functional media player that's totally keyboard driven. You've saved
space on your taskbar, time switching between application windows, and
gained a great deal of control over the application... all at your
fingertips. No more juggling windows: Now you can work on that
two-thousand page essay the Professor needs by tonight (Hopefully you're
at least on page two already) and still enjoy your thought-provoking

Other related posts: