Show a “Now Playing” iTunes Notification in the OS X Dock

Nov 19, 2011 - 55 Comments

Now Playing iTunes Dock notification

Using a defaults write command, the iTunes Dock icon can be set to display a “Now Playing” song and artist pop-up that transitions in and out and music starts. It’s a nice addition, particularly if you’re playing songs from a shared network playlist and have iTunes hidden in the background.

Enable the iTunes song & artist Dock icon popups

Open the Terminal in /Applications/Utilities/ and type the following:
defaults write itunes-notifications -bool TRUE

Now kill the Dock to relaunch it:
killall Dock

Start playing a song in iTunes to see the notification appear, it’ll disappear automatically and then reappear briefly anytime a new song starts.

If you decide you don’t like the notification, disabling the iTunes song popup is just as easy:
defaults delete itunes-notifications

You won’t need to relaunch iTunes, but you will need to kill the Dock again.

This only works in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, if you try it in prior versions nothing happens. The tip comes from Keir Thomas, author of Mac Kung Fu, we found it by way of TheNextWeb.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iTunes, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. adem says:

    This hint wasn’t found by TheNextWeb, it was found by a user named Keir-thomas at MacOSXHints. they even say that in their article.

  2. Mac Kung Fu says:

    I’m the author of this tip and I discovered it while writing my book Mac Kung Fu, which contains over 300 other tips. I shared this tip with OS X Hints and it looks like its gained a life of its own since!

    Take a look at the book:

    • David says:

      I’m running 10.7.4 and since I migrated to a new computer the dock crashes every time the song information is displayed. How can I fix it without disabling the notification?


  3. matt says:

    Does this only work on lion?

  4. nate says:

    does this trick work with other applications?

  5. Alberto says:

    You can add the iTunes icon to the pop-up too, if you want :)

    Just type in terminal:
    defaults write notification-always-show-image -bool TRUE;killall Dock

    To revert to the normal situation type:
    defaults delete itunes-notifications​

    and then
    ​defaults delete notification-always-show-image;killall Dock​

  6. Victor says:

    Does it require one to log in as Admin? It doesn’t work if I do it as simply a user.

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  8. Justin says:

    This is awesome!

  9. […] the music lovers out there, DockArt takes the “Now Playing” notification concept a step further and actually replaces the iTunes Dock icon with the currently playing albums […]

  10. […] sent in by Keir Thomas, the author of a new book called Mac Kung Fu and the guy who discovered the cool iTunes “Now Playing” notification that has since become popular on the Mac web. Without further ado, here’s the trick directly […]

  11. Andrey says:

    @ ro1960, I noticed that bug too. To fix it, try to make “clean” now-playing notification as described in this article, not notification with iTunes icon as optioned in comments by Alberto. Then you’ll come out with notification displaying only Artist – Song and correct album art dock icon. ))

  12. […] which contains over 300 tips and tricks for OS X Lion. He’s the same guy who discovered the iTunes “Now Playing” notification tip and the Quick Look select text tip. Here’s the tip direct from […]

  13. bubbleg5 says:

    Hello friends! You can not activate these notifications even Twitter application?

  14. […] ImagesEnable iTunes “Now Playing” Information in DockPosted on April 16, 2012 in AppleThis Defaults change is an oldie, but a goodie. I have it set up on all of my Macs.« Dizzyup Wallpapers Updated to Include Retina iPad […]

  15. Mat says:

    Big fan of this tip!
    Been using it since 10.7 Dev P build

    Unfortunately it creates a big problem in 10.7.4 and 10.8
    Finder crashes consistently when changing song.

    It took me quite awhile to isolate the issue to this hack.

    Just wanted to let everyone know

    • David says:

      I’m running 10.7.4 and since I migrated to a new computer the dock crashes every time the song information is displayed. How can I fix it without disabling the notification?


  16. Damon says:

    Doesn’t work on OS X Mountain Lion!

  17. gerdez says:

    I can confirm, it doesn’t work in Mountain Lion :(

  18. Jason Lemire says:

    WOW. Many thanks, can’t believe I found this site by typing a few key words.

    I was really appreciating the display prior to Mountain Lion….

    Thanks a lot, I am very happy to have discovered this within 10 minutes of my search !

    Montreal, Québec

  19. Ryan says:

    Yeah love it. Only way to perfect it would be some kind of tweak to assign the lefthand iTunes icon to assign to whatever current album art is playing.

    • Ben Hegarty says:

      I agree. I have looked into this and unfortunately it is not possible because without editing some OSX core files, Notification Centre can only show the app’s icon. You can’t manually assign an image :(

  20. Ben Hegarty says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Here is a new version. A user on MacRumors (Icy1007) discovered a bug which prevents notifications from showing if the artist or song name starts with a square bracket.

    I’ve also changed the hosting to MediaFire so that the URL will remain the same when a new version is released.

  21. […] versions of Mac OS X allowed you to see a “Now Playing” notification pop up over the iTunes Dock icon, the alert showed the song and artist name anytime a […]

  22. Carlos says:

    I just noticed it stopped working when I updated to 10.7.5

  23. Jamie says:

    Has iTunes 11 killed this? Doesn’t seem to work.

    HELP US BEN!!! ;)

  24. Ado says:


    It won’t work anymore. Since like 10.7.5



  25. eric says:

    i get this when i try now…ive had this before but now with the update to 10.7.5 and itunes 11 this is what i get

    unknown002608e1fba2:~ Kindle$ defaults delete notification-always-show-image;killall Dock
    2013-02-16 13:50:55.965 defaults[12707:707]
    There is no (notification-always-show-image) default for the ( domain.
    Defaults have not been changed.
    2013-02-16 13:50:55.967 defaults[12707:707]
    There is no (notification-always-show-image) default for the ( domain.
    Defaults have not been changed.

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