Review: Muzzy

by on June 17, 2013

iTunes is one of Apple’s oldest pieces of software, actually predating OS X as far as consumers are concerned. Because of this, and numerous ways that developers can improve upon Apple’s experience, there have been tons of ways to use iTunes without directly using iTunes. Muzzy, a new free app, tries to offer some additional features directly from the menu bar.

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Things have changed a bit for the Mac over the years—since about 2007, every Mac and Apple keyboard feature controls for content playback that default to iTunes (currently these are located from F7-F9 on most machines). This allows quick pausing and skipping of tracks without having to jump to iTunes. Muzzy is a lightweight app by Pedro Vieira with the help of Célio Silva, and Raphael Lopes. It’s free from the Mac App Store and aims to add to the built-in features of iTunes, allowing you to mess with the iTunes window only when you absolutely need it.

The app itself launches to a small, rounded square with a music note in it in your menu bar. Clicking it will bring up a panel showing album art, the song title, and the total time. Clicking anywhere in this window will allow you to jump to a particular point in the song (a tiny time readout in the corner indicates where you’d be jumping to). If a song has lyric data, there will be an additional pull-down showing those. In some ways, Muzzy brings some iOS playback features back to the Mac—in the upper-right corner, a hamburger button switches to a list of all the songs from the same album as the one you’re currently listening to. There’s also an option, known as Plugout, that will pause music when headphones are unplugged, giving Macs something that has existed since the earliest days of the iPod. Finally, when you’re listening to music and the track changes, a small popup will show the title of the next song briefly before disappearing. You could use the mini player in iTunes to achieve some of these, but it must be visible at all times and floats above other windows.

The only other control is a small gear to the left of the album art panel—this brings up the few options you can change and provides some help. You can enable/disable launching at login, Plugout, or showing track change notifications. There’s also a place to connect with your Last.fm account if you’re into that sort of thing.

After using Muzzy for awhile, I found it quite convenient, and allowed me to keep iTunes running in full screen mode a couple of desktops away. I did see a bit of a spike in CPU usage when songs transitioned, but this quickly dropped back to nearly nothing once the notification disappeared. Turning off notifications did not change this issue. I would like to see redundant play/pause or skip track controls, mostly due to my own laziness of not having to reach for a particular keyboard key, but this is a minor complaint.

Muzzy is both very familiar and similar to other iTunes companions, but seems to offer some unique features in a very lightweight app. Since it’s free, there’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a try (they are accepting donations if you enjoy it). As this is only the first version, it will be exciting to see what comes next in the already-teased version 2.0.

The One-Sentence Verdictâ„¢

Muzzy adds some handy features and convenience to iTunes in a simple, well-designed app.

Pros: Well-designed interface, allows quick access to iTunes content, lightweight, Plugout feature very useful

Cons: None significant

The Facts

5/5Product: Muzzy
Company: Pedro Vieira
Platform: Mac (OS X Lion Required)
Price: Free (Mac App Store US Link)

This post has been filed in Mac Apps, Miscellany and Reviews