May 29, 2005

Keyboard Play Button & iTunes (or Winamp)

I got a new keyboard today, but the software for it's not all that flexible. Unfortunately, without the software running half of the buttons don't work, but with it running the Play button loads Windows Media Player instead of iTunes. Because the software handles it, TweakUI can't fix it either, and I can't replace wmplayer.exe without disabling Windows (System) File Protection. So, here's a workaround for anyone with a similar problem:


  1. Run regedit
  2. Browse to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options
  3. Create a new key called wmplayer.exe
  4. Create a new string value called Debugger
  5. Set the value to "c:\Program Files\iTunes\iTunes.exe"
  6. Test it (no restart required)
  7. Exit Registry Editor

The same thing applies for making the Calculator button launch PowerToy Calc too. Of course your keyboard may be more flexible.


For Winamp there is an additional complication: The "Debugger" is passed the filename as a parameter. iTunes ignores this but Winamp thinks it's a filename and tries to play it. Here's how to do this for Winamp:

  1. Download ProgLauncher
  2. Extract ProgLauncher.exe and Notepad.cfg somewhere. I chose the Winamp folder. Rename Notepad.cfg to ProgLauncher.cfg (or whatever you want as long as they match).
  3. Open ProgLauncher.cfg in your favourite text editor
  4. Change the first line to Winamp.exe (may need the full path)
  5. Change the second line to ""
  6. Change the third line to whatever path you want (e.g. the full path to My Music)
  7. Save and close the file
  8. Run regedit
  9. Browse to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options
  10. Create a new key called wmplayer.exe
  11. Create a new string value called Debugger
  12. Set the value to "c:\Program Files\Winamp\ProgLauncher.exe" (change as necessary)
  13. Test it (no restart required)
  14. Exit Registry Editor

Please let me know if this helps you (comments below), or if I've missed anything, etc. - 29th

- 8 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

[Skip to the latest comment]
  1. Actually there's a plugin for Winamp to support the hotkeys, and the latest version has it included. Mine's a Microsoft keyboard and didn't have any extra software, but the hotkeys just register as normal keyboard keypresses so it shouldn't need it.

    01 Jun 2005, 14:45

  2. I tried that too – it doesn't even register the key presses. The driver must intercept them first. The only way it would work is by exiting the hotkey software, but like I said the others won't work then. :-(

    01 Jun 2005, 17:23

  3. m0nk

    Well… I have a similar problem. But, i'm UBER annoyed with it… There is another way to make the windows media window pop up when you hit the button. Set iTunes as default audio player… that helped me a bit… But now when i hit play/pause on my keyboard the window pops up…. well if you're a gamer this can be death. i play WoW and alt+tabbing back is definately not fun. any ideas?

    20 Oct 2005, 10:56

  4. m0nk

    Just found this! woohoo! it works GREAT!

    woot! free stuff :-D

    Now it doesn't switch to the itunes window :-D awesome :-D it doesn't act twice either when you're focus'd on itunes… it's pretty self explanitory as well, but you download the installer and then change the key bindings in the keyboard buttons to run the scripts.

    (only thing you might not really like is the fact you can only use the keyboard with iTunes :-/)
    [so what i did was only use the play/pause script… and i'll use control + p in wmp ;-)]

    20 Oct 2005, 11:12

  5. Cheers!

    20 Oct 2005, 16:20

  6. Lamby

    I have the same keyboard, but re-branded as a Trust model. One thing that is very useful is 'xev' on linux as it allows you to see exactly what thekeyboard is sending to your system. (For example, there are some fairly hard-coded buttons that send actual things like Alt+F4. The 'office' keys are all hardcoded to CTRL+N and suchlike)

    xev also highlights that the keyboard sends different things depending on whether it is being used via USB or PS/2 :P

    17 Jan 2006, 17:00

  7. Murmour

    For windows media player: It still wont work when I have itunes minimized, or when I have it minimized as a toolbar. It only works when itunes is on top.

    28 Mar 2006, 04:35

  8. IceColdUK

    Works for me – play button on my new BenQ AM805 now fires up iTunes instead of WMP. Software that comes with the BenQ is pretty limited.

    However, once in iTunes, the prev track, next track, stop and play/pause keys on the keyboard don't work. Any ideas how these can be configured?


    19 Apr 2006, 17:22

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