Shawn Oster (gravatar)

ZuneKeys: Global Hotkey Support for Zune

Before the Zune software I used Winamp and one of the things I really liked was it's Global Hotkey support, the ability to control the player using just hotkeys.  Ever since using the Zune I've found myself hitting Ctrl + Alt + Home to pause the player about a 100 times so instead of whining about it in yet another blog post I thought I'd actually do something.  It was a slow afternoon at work on a Friday so I whipped up this, ZuneKeys, global hotkey support for the Zune software.


  1. Download ZuneKeys
  2. Unzip and copy somewhere, personally I use c:\program files\zunekeys
  3. Run ZuneKeys.exe...
  4. ...and Bob's yer uncle!  Now you have global hotkey support for your Zune software.

I'd suggest adding ZuneKeys to your startup menu so it's always available.

The Keys

Play Ctrl + Alt + Insert
Pause Ctrl + Alt + Home
Stop Ctrl + Alt + End
Previous Track Ctrl + Alt + Page Up
Next Track Ctrl + Alt + Page Down
Volume Up Ctrl + Alt + Up
Volume Down Ctrl + Alt + Down
Fast Forward Ctrl + Alt + Right
Rewind Ctrl + Alt + Left


How it Works

I'm basically sending the same commands that your fancy media keyboards send, except I don't use media keyboards as they take up entirely too much space on my already cramped desk.  Nothing too magically here.  I'm pretty sure the Winamp one actually sends Winamp messages that it knows how to respond to but since the Zune software doesn't *have* anything like that I'm sorta faking it.

There is no customization of hotkeys and it could probably do a lot more but I wanted to keep it as tiny as possible since I already seem to have a 100 other things running in the background trying to compete for my system's resources.  If someone besides me actually uses this puppy I'm sure I could accommodate customized keys or other small enhancements.

This works with the Zune right now because that's where I needed it but it could easily be adapted to work for Windows Media Player, iTunes, Winamp, etc.

Oh, it seems to work just fine under Vista and XP.

The (Open) Source

It's written in Delphi as a standard Win32 application.  Since it's Delphi that means the only thing you need is the EXE, no .NET or Java Virtual Machine needed here.  Since I avoided using the VCL and went old-school Windows app it's only 30.5kb instead of the more usual 300kb Delphi app.  If you'd like the source just ask, I'll put it some place public or give you access to my subversion repository.  A special thanks to IconBuffet as the icon I'm using is from one of their "Free Delivery" icon sets, Dresden Symphony.

ZuneKeys Source

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  • Anonymous (gravatar)

    Anonymous said
    February 27, 2008

    Thanks! I was searching for something like this to control Zune via global hotkeys - i used iTunesControl when I was stuck with iTunes.Feature requests in order of desire:1) Customize the hotkeys2) Display the currently playing track information in a fade in/fade out box like iTunesControl doesThanks again!

  • Anonymous (gravatar)

    Anonymous said
    February 27, 2008

    Hello,I want to take look in your sources to incresse my litle skill in delphi, becouse keybords hooks is the thing that I is loooking for.I`m waiting for you publish your code.A loot of thanks, and keep your good work.Carlos Leandro Zetula.

  • Wow, this is very nice. Thanks. Perhaps a hotkey could be added to be able to rate the song on the fly as well?

  • Rating on the fly would be great, problem is there is no way to interact with the software other than these very basic commands. I've talked to the Zune client software lead and they're not too focused on building the functionality that would allow things like rating on the fly.

  • Trevor (gravatar)

    Trevor said
    June 04, 2008

    I love the device, I love the marketplace, I love the social.

    But I can't stand being locked in to crappy software. If you want to make me use software, fine, but at least allow some customization.

    Damn you Microsoft Zune Client Software Lead...but thank you Shawn. Much needed app.

  • Glad to hear the app could help you, it's one of the few things I really missed from using WinAmp.

    About the client software, while I have some issues with various things I actually like it, even prefering it over WMP. Just goes to show that it's not the easiest thing to design. I agree some more customization would help, media is such a personal thing.

  • Reid (gravatar)

    Reid said
    October 09, 2008

    I was about to download this, but then I saw play was Ctrl + Alt + Ins... I don't have an Ins key, my Del key is just really big. :\

  • Shawn,

    Great software. I appreciate the free usage. One quick question. I was under the impression that the key stroke combinations would control Zune software whether it was minimized or not. Mine does not seem to work unless the Zune software has focus. I also noticed that even when Zune software has focus the Ctrl+Alt+Up causes my screen to flip upside down (not the physical screen, lol). I must have some other software that is causing that. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Once Again, Great Software,


  • George (gravatar)

    George said
    November 07, 2008

    I would appreciate it, if you send me somehow the source code of this app, so I can learn more about Global Hotkeys, and how you did it using non-VCL programming.

    Thank you.

  • Dennis Ranker, Attorney at Law (gravatar)

    Dennis Ranker, Attorney at Law said
    December 27, 2008

    Recently Apple made the Ipod Nano and ITunes accessible for blind people using screen readers. Since Microsoft's software (Word, Excel, Windows OS, etc) are all accessible and compatible with screen readers like Window Eyes and JAWS, why can't Microsoft come out with a firmware/software update for the Zune produce line. I bought the Zune 80 last year and the 120 for my wife this year. She's totally blind and my visoin is such that the Zune initial loading screen was easier for me to deal with so I bought it. If apple can do it, so can Microsoft.

  • zach (gravatar)

    zach said
    January 14, 2009

    Um... When i do ctrl + alt + (UP) it changes the systm volume is there any chance that you could make it change the zune softwares volume instead
    ( i like to listen to music while playing online games and want to be able to turn it down w/o changeing the game volume)

  • I use ZuneKeys. I love ZuneKeys! But now I am on Windows 7 and ZuneKeys doesn't work like before :(.

    The problem is that ZuneKeys on Win7 no longer has global access to the program. That is, it only works when Zune is in focus. Which kind of defeats the purpose.

    Any possibility of getting it updated to work on Win 7? I would be happy to learn and help with the work required! Thanks!

  • Eric (gravatar)

    Eric said
    June 13, 2009

    Oh. Sweet. Mercy. I love you. Thank you for allowing me to fully let go of Winamp. I've been struggling for almost 2 years with this. Thank you.

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