Requires Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later
Age Rating: 4+
If you like to listen to music while you work (or play) at your computer, how many times has this happened to you: You’re jamming away to your favourite tunes, then something prompts you to pause playback – perhaps the phone rang, or a co-worker stopped by for a chat, or an email message or tweet suggested a funny online video. Though the interruption likely lasted only a few minutes, an hour or more later you realised you’d been sitting in silence. You forgot to click Play again. (Yes, this is clearly a First-World Problem.)
Take Five (Mac App Store link) is a nifty app that ensures you’ll never have to endure such absent-minded silence again. Whenever a temporary interruption occurs, just click the Take Five icon in the Dock (or click the pause button in Take Five’s systemwide menu, or press Take Five’s configurable keyboard shortcut), and media playback is paused for the length of time you specify. When that time is up – the countdown appears in the menu bar – Take Five automatically resumes playback, your music gently fades back in, and you’re back to jamming.
I admit to being a bit skeptical of Take Five when I first tried it – my first thought was essentially, “Is this really necessary?” But once you pause playback and then, 10 minutes later, hear the music fade back in – often after completely forgetting you’d paused it – you begin to appreciate how Take Five can come in handy.
You choose the default length of Take Five’s pause – 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, or 30 minutes – in Take Five’s preferences window, or you can choose a different length of time for a particular pause using Take Five’s menu. (If you want to pause playback indefinitely, you just Option-click the Pause button. Of course, you can manually resume playback at any time.) By default, Take Five controls iTunes, but you can instead choose to have it control Ecoute, Pulsar, Radium or Rdio. When controlling iTunes, you can also configure Take Five to take over the Play/Pause key on Apple’s keyboards and compatible third-party keyboards with a Play/Pause key.
As an all-day music listener, Take Five’s temporary-pause feature alone is useful – if admittedly frivolous – to me. But Take Five has a number of other features that add utility. For example, the Take Five window (which is really more of an iOS-style pop-over) that appears when you click the program’s menu-bar icon shows the current track’s name, artist, album name and cover art; clicking the cover art reveals the track in your music player (if the player supports this feature). But what I really like here is that, similar to Mac Gems favourite CoverSutra, Take Five can temporarily display this informational pop-over whenever the track changes, and you can set up a keyboard shortcut to show this display whenever you want to see what’s playing.
Unfortunately, Take Five doesn’t provide any other playback controls – you’ll need to switch to your music-playing program to change tracks or playlists, though Take Five does let you configure a keyboard shortcut to open that music program. I’d love to see at least Previous and Next buttons in Take Five’s pop-over display. But Take Five does exactly what it aims to do, and, in typical Iconfactory fashion, it does so with a beautiful and easy-to-use interface.