Mac Media Control Not Working: Solution for Back, Play/Pause and Forward

Recently, one thing has been bugging me about my MacBook Pro: When I played songs, albums and playlists with the Music app, the media control keys didn't work. There was no reaction when I pressed Back (F7), Play / Pause (F8) or Forward (F9). The problem doesn't occur in the Podcasts app. In my search for the possible cause and a working solution, I have at least found the latter. I have summarized how I can now use the Mac's media control keys reliably again in this guide.

When I play music in the Music app on my Apple Mac, neither the "Now playing" overview nor the function keys for media control F7, F8 and F9 respond. The MacMediaKeyForwarder app offers a solution.
When I play music in the Music app on my Apple Mac, neither the “Now playing” overview nor the function keys for media control F7, F8 and F9 respond. The MacMediaKeyForwarder app offers a solution.

Mac Media Function Keys Not Working: Various Possible Reasons

When searching for a solution to the problem, I came across a variety of reasons that could be behind the problem of the media keys not working when using the Music app on the Mac. In addition, there is a more or less helpful tip for solving pretty much every possible cause. Here is a list as a summary:

  • Problem: F-keys are used as such and are not set for Mac control.
    Solution: When using, hold down the fn key or under System Settings -> Keyboard -> Keyboard shortcuts -> function keys change the setting (I have Mac control enabled, so that can't be the problem).
  • Problem: The settings for the Remote Control Daemon (rcd) have been changed and must be reset using a launchctl command in the terminal.
    Solution: Activation of a corresponding plist file via command line as shown here (didn't work for me).
  • Problem: The Chrome web browser claims the Mac's media control keys for itself.
    Solution: In Chrome, open the menu chrome://flags/#hardware-media-key-handling and use the function as described here deactivate (didn't work for me).

My solution: Use MacMediaKeyForwarder app from GitHub

All the reasons, solutions and websites listed above didn't help me. Even after searching through the music settings, macOS system settings, app permissions, accessibility features and so on, I was no wiser. So I resorted to a helper software that you can download for free from GitHub. It is the MacMediaKeyForwarder (here is the GitHub page of the current version).

During installation, you may have to confirm several times that you want to open the app, even though macOS cannot scan it. In other words, the usual sideloading hassle. System Settings -> Privacy You may need to use the “Open Anyway” button. You also need to allow MacMediaKeyForwarder to System Settings -> Privacy -> Accessibility the ability to control the music app.

Once you've done all that, you can finally use the app. It doesn't have a program window, but it does have an icon and menu in the menu bar. This lets you set the priority of iTunes (also works with the Music app) or Spotify. It depends on what you use and what you want to control. You can also use the menu to specify that MacMediaKeyForwarder is loaded when macOS starts, so that the media keys work again right from the start.

Observation: Music playback is not registered in “Now playing”

One reason why I resorted to a third-party tool is the lack of registration of the music playback of the music app in the "Now playing" display. This can be done via System Settings -> control center Activate it and place it in the menu bar. If you then click on the symbol (play symbol in a circle), the current playback (title, album cover, control options) should be displayed.

However, as shown in the screenshot, when I clicked it, it didn't play. Interestingly, this was only the case in macOS Sonoma and only in the Music app. In the recently installed beta of macOS Sequoia playback was displayed in "Now playing". In both systems, playback of the podcast app was also displayed, which could also be controlled with F7, F8 and F9. The cause must therefore lie in some setting that I made for the music app under Sonoma. But I don't know which one yet...

MacBook media control keys finally work again

After I downloaded and installed the MacMediaKeyForwarder app from GitHub, the media control keys on my MacBook Pro finally worked again. I don't know exactly why they stopped responding before, but that's not so important anymore. I'm just happy that I can now play, pause and skip music again using the F keys. If this helped you too or if you know what causes the problem described, please leave a comment :)

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In the Sir Apfelot Blog you will find advice, instructions and reviews on Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Studio.