Mac shortcut tips – playing live radio stations with a single keypress

Using macOS Mojave, iTunes, some apple script and BetterTouchTool (£)

  • Create a playlist entry for the radio station in iTunes
  • Create a script file like this:

tell application "iTunes"
play track "BBC World Service"
end tell
  • Add a shortcut in BetterTouchTool, using the Execute Terminal Command option: e.g. osascript /path/to/bbcws.scpt

(Remember you can use modifier keys for variations. e.g. F18, shift-F18, cmd-F18)


Whilst I have streamlined the way I access audio over the years, by putting all my preferred stations in iTunes playlist, to avoid having to launch individual websites or apps, you generally still have to first switch to iTunes etc. (Launchbar currently doesn’t support playing live streams properly).

With this solution, I can literally just hit a button and it’ll start within a second. (If you have a digital watch, e.g. a Casio, I suggest activating the hourly chime if you want to avoid missing the start of news bulletins etc.)

Q: But what about iTunes being abolished in Catalina? Yes, well I’m not planning to upgrade for some time, and when I reach that point I’ll probably switch to VLC or something.


PSA – Safari 13.0.1 breaks multiple extensions

Even if you’re still running macOS High Sierrra (I’m on 10.13.6) you’ll receive a Safari update (from 12 to 13).  This will break a number of extensions – including most adblocking – also a vim-based keyboard extension I was using called Vimmy.

So you may want to avoid upgrading, or do as I’ve done and switch your default browser to Firefox etc. for the time being.

macOS Catalina 10.15 – things to be aware/wary of

  • 32-bit apps will no longer be supported at all (currently that still includes Acquia DevDesktop – for running Drupal development sites)
  • the default shell is going to change from Bash to Zsh
  • scripting languages won’t be installed by default (Apple gave Python, Ruby and Perl as examples in a support document, but didn’t specifically mention PHP).  It’ll mean Homebrew will need to be installed differently.   Presumably it won’t be an issue if you’re upgrading a previous macOS version, but, also presumably, it will be if you’re using a new computer, even with Migration Assistant.
  • iTunes has been removed and the Apple Music replacement apparently doesn’t support column view of your music library.
  • John Gruber writes that Catalina is a pain to use due to (a) bugs but also (b) excessive permission alert dialogs.

(As usual, my own policy is not to upgrade to a new macOS release until 9-12 months after it’s come out, to allow everything to settle. I write this – post updated Feb 2020 – on a machine that’s still running High Sierra, which should still get support until late 2020 – although again, Apple have never announced support lifecycle dates.)