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.


Upgrading a Pure Digital Radio to DAB+ – as it happened

  • Notice Global have added a couple of new DAB+ stations on the Digital One multiplex.  Other household radios (including a Roberts Sports DAB 5 – my review) can receive these automatically, but the Pure One Classic (purchased Dec 2009 – £47, Amazon) displays “Upgrade”.  I have been putting this off.
  • Nervously visit Pure website – seem to remember DAB+ upgrade cost £10 or so. Felt sense of irritation at charging for a feature that ought to be free, and that offering it free will boost chance of repeat custom.
  • redirects to and prompts for serial number.
  • Look at slightly worn barcode (sticky label) on back of radio – consists of six digits, two letters, 4 digits, a space then a 9 – is this it? Maybe the final nine is a check digit. (Later: it is, if you remove the two letters in the middle).
  • Enter serial number on iPhone, rejected.
  • Notice letters are lower case.  Enter again in uppercase in case of sloppy programming.  Still rejected.
  • Probably only supports recent products? Click the “if your product is not listed” link and navigate through Digital Radio/Hi-Fi and One Family. (Each model type has a “Family” suffix – idly wonder how many people will be sufficiently on-brand to understand/care what a “family” is, in this context?)  Click Software, then Software upgrade then another Software upgrade link.  Browser downloads a PDF telling me to go to
  • Am doing all this on an iPhone in the kitchen where the radio is. Wonder if iOS/Safari or the 1Blocker software I’m using it screwing things up.  Go upstairs and load the site there.  Same thing, just a PDF.
  • Return to upgrades page and read product list properly.  Realise One Classic is listed after all, so I should be using the serial number form after all.
  • Realise I’ve forgotten the serial number.  Go back downstairs with phone.   Re-read the bit about the serial number format:

    “Serial numbers are normally in a 6 number, 2 letter, 6 number format.”

  •  Hmm – mine has 6 numbers, 2 letters, but then a gap and 1 number at the end.  Move radio around in light whilst squinting at barcode.  Is that a scratch in the label, where a number used to be?
  • Wonder what to do.  Can I get the serial number via the radio’s UI? Poke around the settings menu a bit.  Doesn’t look like it.
  • Realise I have a number and a barcode, so if I can just scan the barcode…  With a unhealthy level of cynicism, open iPhone camera app, knowing that it will scan QR codes, but assuming Apple, whilst having invested considerable developer resource in creating an animated poo emoji, have probably deemed that enabling the camera to scan a linear barcode is too niche of a feature to bother adding support.  This assumption is proved correct.
  • Wonder if there’s a website that’ll let me scan a barcode, to save installing an app just for this.  Quickly abandon that idea.
  • Open App Store on phone.  Start typing “barcode scanner”.  Choose “barcode scanner” from autocomplete dropdown rather than barcode scanner free (likely stuffed with ads etc.?) or barcode scanner uk (what’s so country-specific about a barcode scanner app?).
  • Results page:
    1st: “QR Code Reader and Creator” (Ad, 191 reviews, 3.5 stars)
    2nd: “QR Code Reader” (37.4k reviews, 4.5 stars)
    3rd: “BarcodeScanner” (8 reviews, 4 stars)
  • Observe, optimistically, that BarcodeScanner doesn’t mention QR codes at all.  Looks much simpler / duller than rest.  Decide to choose it, based on similarity to own personality.
  • Install BarcodeScanner and open it:

Met deze barcode scanner kun je een barcode scannen om de inhoud van de betreffende barcode te controleren en zien welk type codering er gebruikt is.

  • (Later determine this is Dutch.)
    Press Scan een barcode link at bottom of screen.
  • After a couple of attempts, scan successful (red moving horizontal line turns green).
  • A number was indeed missing – the ‘1’ had been scratched off.  (To the app’s credit, although I can’t copy paste it, it remembers the last number I scanned when I subsequently reopen it, and it tells me what type of barcode it is.)
  • Also take a photo of the barcode, go back upstairs and enter number for safe keeping in my notes app.
  • Enter correct serial number on website, accepted.  Now asked for current software version.  Back downstairs to check the radio again, do this bit on the iPhone – which doesn’t seem to handle the enabled/disabled state of the Continue button quite right (remains greyed out, but still clickable).
  • Now asked to enter ‘Device Hardware Identifier’.  Wonder how secure this needs to be. Wonder how I’m supposed to get that.  See it involves holding down Menu button then waiting and holding it down a second time.  Presented with a 32-digit hex number on two lines of the screen.  Really? Attempt to enter this in full the first time (rejected), verify I’ve typed it correctly, then re-read the instructions and note they only want the top line.  Note that they could have just trimmed the first 16 characters of the response or limited the maximum length of the text field.  (Grateful I don’t own a different Pure radio, having read account from another user that hardware identifier on Pure One Mini only displayed for two seconds at a time before reverting to radio mode).
  • Next page has a link to DAB+ or DMB-R update
  • Decide at this point things are going to be a lot simpler if I just take the radio upstairs to where the computer is (I’m going to have to connect it to USB anyway).  But first, take a photo of the display, showing the hardware identifier.
  • Find somewhere to plug radio in.  Inevitably involves having to unplugging something else because power adaptor is too big.
  • Enter details on computer again and note so far there’s been nothing about payment (but it hasn’t said the upgrade is free, either).
  • Next page has a heading (which I suspect most people won’t notice) saying “Paid software download” , but also doesn’t have any payment info, just a couple of download links (Windows, Mac).  Maybe it’s free and they forgot to update it.  Also has a bit confirming device hardware identifier and an 8 digit DAB+ unlock key.  Copy and paste this into notes app.  In all honestly, can’t be bothered to fully read the following four bullet points – but do notice one mentions having to turn the tuning dial to enter the code.
  • Download the firmware for Mac.  (Extra point to Pure for providing this, as wasn’t confident a non-Windows version would exist).
  • Take down box of USB cables from shelf and select an appropriate one.
  • Run the installer.  Take time to read the instructions carefully.
  • Set the radio to update mode as described.  Attempt update.  App immediately says radio cannot be found.
  • First suspicion is that it won’t work properly when running via the extra USB socket on my (wired) keyboard, so instead connect to a proper USB port on rear of Mac Mini (predictably, sockets already fully in use, so have to work out which of three HDDs to disconnect.  Requires care as macOS has an external USB connected SSD startup disk.  Trace cables and unplug the Time Machine backup drive instead.  The drive was in power save mode (not spinning) at the time, but that doesn’t stop macOS complaining that I didn’t eject it first.
  • Retry firmware upgrade. (Pure app has a button for this).  This time, takes a lot longer (promising), but fails again (not so much).
  • Decide to repeat but power cycle the radio first. Fails again.
  • Aware that not all USB cables are created equal.  Search in box for another.  Curiously, seems to have a USB symbol on both sides, thus making it more of a pain to insert the correct way around.
  • Radio connected! Update process start, a little bit slow, just over 3 minutes.  To Pure’s credit, a copy of your existing firmware is downloaded first.
  • Radio has restarted, seems OK.  Can receive Radio 3 on BBC multiplex.  Go to the update menu and verify the version number has incremented.
  • Haven’t been asked for an unlock key.  Perhaps I don’t need it after all…
  • Put cables back in box and replace on shelf.  In doing so, knock biscuit tin onto floor.  Retrieve tin (contains actual biscuits) and inspect contents.  Mostly smashed.
  • Try and tune into a DAB+ station.  Opt for Gold.  Appears in the station listing twice, once as Gold on local mux I know I definitely can’t get in this room, and as Gold UK on D1 in DAB+ (40k), which is what I need to test.
  • Tune in.  Display shows “Upgrade –”.  Hmm.
  • Maybe I’ll retune it just to be on the safe side.  Choose Autotune. Wonder as I wait, as I do every time I’ve done this, on the inconsistently of TV/radio tuning menus and whether on not this device has a ‘Purge’ option to get rid of stations or secondary services that no longer exist.
  • Station list looks fine (has recent additions), but get identical upgrade message to before when tuning to DAB+ stations.
  • Go back to the software menu.  Idly try turning the tuning knob and suddenly there’s a DAB+/DMB-R unlock option.  Feel stupid about this. although wonder if, as software has been replaced, it could have been rephrased or prompted me to enter the key.
  • Realise I left the phone with the code in upstairs. Go back to fetch.
  • Correctly guess how to enter it (turning the dial to select the number and A-F – obvious – then pressing the button in to advance to the next one – perhaps not quite so obvious to all).  In hindsight, this was perhaps the most enjoyable stage of the process, as it felt a bit like opening a safe.
  • Message saying code accepted. Check to see if there is a congratulatory exclamation mark at the end.  There isn’t.  Wait and if anything else happens, like the message going away or the radio retuning itself. It doesn’t.
  • Attempt to tune in again. “Station not available”.
  • Power cycle the radio.  Repeat.
  • Try BBC mux.  Fine.  (Always much stronger, even though same mast. Wonder why this is?)
  • Double check aerial fully extended.
  • Try other D1 stations again.  Nothing.
  • Scrolling “intellitext” freezes and radio spontaneously reboots.  Worry about this – is radio too old to cope with new software?
  • Remember (possibly apocryphal?) story of TV installer who, unable to get a picture at customer’s house, proceeded  to dismantle entire television, only to return, defeated, to office and learn of Emley Moor mast collapse.  Decide sensible to check if any transmitter work ongoing.
  • Try and remember what the Digital One website address is.  Vaguely recall how the site looks – reassuring old fashioned – quite narrow horizontally, as designed when smaller desktop displays prevalent – maybe a purple colour? Suspect list of stations is out of date and lists services that don’t exist anymore, like Oneword and Birdsong.  Get mildly depressed at this.
  • Remember the domain ‘’ for some reason.  Enter it.  Ok, this isn’t it, this is that peculiar green one with the animation that looks like it was done in Flash (but isn’t) and the confusing menus/navigation.
  • Note Digital Radio UK copyright statement and link to Radioplayer in footer.  Who are Digital Radio UK? A consortium, but who exactly? Can’t remember.
  • Don’t think this site has any transmitter info, but try the postcode checker anyway.  Note, yet again, the choice of colour scheme is confusing: the heading Good reception has a green background, yet the stations underneath it all have a gradient that’s more yellow than green, which implying to me reception will be weaker.)
  • Google “digital one”.  Top result – – this is it. Check the news page. No updates since Heart 80s launch and BFBS closure in early 2017.
  • Does have a transmitter list – under coverage.  Including Google map (to their credit, unlike many sites since Google helpfully broke everybody’s maps when they started charging for the Maps API, they’ve made the effort to register a API key).  Doesn’t seem to be anywhere that gives me transmitter status though.
  • Decided to try BBC reception site.  Signal from same mast, after all.  Despite annoyance that they can’t just give me a single page of text, transmitter by transmitter, like on Ceefax, the checker does work properly and they haven’t hidden any technical info – and it shows past faults, including about 10 minutes of downtime for the BBC digital mux on Friday night.  Listed as “fault”. Idly wonder cause of this and what, nowadays, BBC / Arqiva consider a good response time.
  • No current faults though.
  • Move radio around a bit.  BBC reception is stable, but not good as normal.  Back on Digital One, can get one bar of Classic FM, with a lot of gurgling, if I move radio closer to the window.
  • Assume probably due to the weather. (Humid day with thunderstorms.)
  • Decide can’t be bothered to test Gold or other DAB+ stations now and go back upstairs and listen to Simon Mayo on Scala via iTunes.   (I can receive the SDL multiplex directly off air here, but only if I climb a small hill first…)

Possible lessons?

  • Print serial numbers directly onto products if you can (consider wear and tear, impact of cleaning, fading from exposure to daylight – perhaps place on a shielded internal surface, such as the inside of a battery compartment cover).  Barcodes are a useful backup, but use QR-codes for maximum compatibility with smartphones.
  • Use serial numbers codes with a consistent format that’s easy for humans to parse. Use dashes where you have separators.  Maybe copy something familiar, like the 0000-0000-0000-0000 credit/debit card style.
  • Read all the instructions.
  • Assume your users won’t read all the instructions.
  • Make it clear at the start of a process which software updates incur a charge.
  • If you’re asking people to enter more than one code, perhaps you’re doing it wrong. (Can’t a unique hardware identifier give you all the information a serial number can?)
  • Allow for common mistakes in your form validation.
  • Include the instructions on entering any unlock codes again after completing a firmware upgrade.
  • Use straightforward, clear navigation and colour schemes on websites.
  • Test things before upgrading a product – e.g. remember to verify if a particular station/multiplex has good reception that day and in that location.
  • Store biscuits near ground level.
  • Bear all this in mind (including the likelihood of users of all abilities making mistakes) when contemplating marketing material for digital switchover.

Later: reception has improved and I can confirm the DAB+ upgrade has worked.  I’m grateful the radio I bought almost ten years ago will continue to work.

P.S.  Pure have a list showing which of their radios are DAB+ compatible.  It’s worth checking as curiously, it shows that another of their radios, the Tempus 1S, with a rather nicer wooden finish and almost twice the price, and which I bought a year later, isn’t in fact DAB+ compatible, despite having a USB socket.