Google Music lets you upload thousands of songs from your private collection to the cloud so that you can stream them to an Android device or any computer with a modern web browser. But while the web app offers some nifty tools such as the ability to create playlists or search or browser for music, Google Music leaves a bit to be desired when it comes to controlling your music playback.
For one thing, it doesn’t support keyboard shortcuts for pausing or skipping tracks. For another, there’s no way to see what song is playing without actually going to the browser tab or window where Google Music is running.
But there are two add-ons for Google Chrome that make Google Music a lot easier to use.
This extension adds an icon to the top of your Google Chrome web browser showing your current status. If Google Music isn’t open, you just see the headphone icon. If you’re using Google Music you’ll either see a little white play icon or a little white pause icon depending on the status of your song.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg though.
Tap the icon and a mini-window will pop up to show you the song, artist, and album art for the song you’re currently playing. You can also give tracks a thumbs up or down from this window or hit the shuffle or repeat buttons.
The app will also provide desktop notifications for a few seconds every time the song changes. The developer calls this “toasting,” and offers an option to turn it off if you find it annoying. You can also open a miniplayer that stays at the bottom of your desktop — even if you close the web browser.
This add-on for Google Chrome isn’t nearly as powerful as Better Music Beta, but it offers one nifty feature: the ability to control Google Music playback using keyboard shortcuts.
Once you install the extension you can manage your shortcut keys by right-clicking on the browser toolbar where other extension icons show up. You won’t see any icon for Media Buttons in that row. Instead, when you right-click, chose the “Manage Extension” option.
Then find Media Buttons for Google Music from the Extensions menu and click the “Options” link.
From this window you can set the keys you want to use to play or pause music, go to the next song or previous song, or to open Google Music.
Honestly, I never managed to get the “open Google Music” button to work, and I could only get the keyboard shortcuts to work if I was already viewing a browser window or tab with Google Music open. In other words, if I’m hanging out in another browser tab, Media Buttons for Google Music is pretty useless. Your results may vary.