Disable iTunes Keyboard Shortcuts/Media Buttons on macOS


This only works on macOS versions prior to macOS Sierra 10.12.4 (16E195) as starting from this version it is necessary to disable the System Integrity Protection – this is not covered in this guide!

Alternatively, you could rename the iTunes.app within the Applications folder which will cause it not to launch at all. This is less destructive than removing it altogether – chances are, if you want to unbind it then you are not using it as your default player. The steps:

  1. Open Finder, go to Applications, select iTunes and right click (or alt/option click) on iTunes, select Show Package Contents
  2. Open Contents then within that, go to the MacOS folder
  3. Right click on “iTunes” and select Rename
  4. Enter your login password if you are asked for it
  5. Enter something like “iTunes2” as the new name (or anything else, it doesn’t matter really)
  6. All done! To restore this, rename the executable in step 5 back to “iTunes” and it should work as before

While it is nowhere near as elegant as the original solution, the recent update forces us to do something radical as this. For the time being, this does work and you don’t have to reinstall iTunes every time you need it.

For macOS versions prior to macOS Sierra 10.12.4 (16E195)

In order to stop iTunes from opening itself every time you press the Play/Pause button  on your keyboard – thus  enabling other apps to use them, for example Colibri – here’s a permanent solution that even survives a system restart. The step are:

Disable the opening of iTunes upon pressing the Play button:

  1. Open Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal
  2. Issue the following command and hit Return:
    launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.rcd.plist
  3. Done!


Enable iTunes self-opening via keyboard media keys (aka undo the changes made above):

  1. Open Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal
  2. Issue the following command and press Return:
    launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.rcd.plist
  3. Done!

Thanks for reading! Please consider Buying me a Coffee or checking out Colibri!