Ease the Safari-to-iTunes lyric pasting task

Rob Griffiths
1 September, 2008
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If you enjoy having lyrics with your music in iTunes, you’re probably familiar with the tools available to collect those lyrics. These tools include the wonderful (but sadly, no longer available) PearLyrics and SingThatiTune (and probably others I’m not aware of—feel free to list your favorites in the comments). (ed. — we have had excellent results with mindquirk software’s Harmonic Dashboard Widget, which automatically pulls lyrics from LyricWiki.org and pastes them into your music as it plays in iTunes).

But what happens if those tools fail to find the lyrics for a given song? Then you’re on your own, and you must head out into the world wide weird, er, web, to sate your lyrical needs—Google is your friend here, obviously; just search for the artist’s name, a few words from the title, and the word ‘lyrics’ and you’ll find them pretty quickly.

But once you’ve found the lyrics for the particular song, you then have to get those lyrics into iTunes, which requires some keyboard and/or mouse exercise. If the song in question is still playing, you can actually do this by using a series of keyboard shortcuts.

Start by selecting the lyrics on the web page, then press: Command-C (copy the lyrics), Command-Tab and switch to iTunes, Command-L (select active track), Command-I (open Get Info window), Command-6 (select Lyrics tab), Command-V (paste lyrics), and finally, press Enter on the numeric keypad to accept the changes and close the Info window. Of course, if the song you were trying to find lyrics for has ended, the process is trickier—you’ll have to manually find its entry in iTunes before following the rest of the keyboard shortcuts.

If this still seems a bit tedious, you can simplify things with a short AppleScript. Open ScriptEditor, and copy and paste the following code:

tell application “iTunes”
set lyrics of current track to (the clipboard as text)
end tell

This very simple script takes the contents of the clipboard, and pastes it into the lyrics field for the currently-playing iTunes track. To use it, obviously, the clipboard needs to contain the lyrics for the song in question, and that song must be presently playing.

To use it, save the script in the following folder (create the folders if necessary): your user’s Library -> Scripts -> Applications -> Safari. Name it something like Paste Lyrics, and you can then call it from the Scripts menu item when you’re running Safari—just select and copy the lyrics, then call the script and you’re done.

However, you can make it even nicer if you have a keyboard macro program like iKey (or Butler, QuicKeys X3, etc.). Just assign a keyboard shortcut to that script, and you can then access it with a keystroke. So instead of being forced to change applications back-and-forth to get your lyrics, you can do it with a couple of keystrokes: Command-C to copy the lyrics, then (for example) Shift-Option-L to run your Paste Lyrics AppleScript.

Note that this script will fail if iTunes’ Info window (or any other modal window) is open—that’s because AppleScript won’t be able to communicate with iTunes while such windows are onscreen. Other than that, though, this script should work fine—I haven’t had any troubles with it, and I’ve been using it for quite a while.

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