[bct] Re: Invisible Winamp! Control Winamp from Anywhere without a cumbersome application window.

  • From: "Brent Harding" <bharding@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 19 Feb 2006 21:06:25 -0600

Wow, that's features winamp 5 has that 2 probably doesn't. I don't really care to hide the window as much as I wish I could have my remote controlling winamp even if winamp doesn't have focus.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Kai" <kaixiong@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Saturday, February 18, 2006 6:52 PM
Subject: [bct] Invisible Winamp! Control Winamp from Anywhere without a cumbersome application window.

Greetings all.

I believe I've posted this before. But seeing as some people have asked
for me to drudge it up again, I thought I might as well repost it for
the new ones.
The premise of the following write-up is to allow one to hide Winamp's
window, and still be in control of their media, from any application
window, any time.
So, without any further delay: 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

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

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 end).

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 entries.

[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 music.


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