Welcome back to Workflow Wednesday! In this installment I discuss BackgroundMusic, a MacOS volume control app.
I often have various sounds going on in the background while working, such as notifications and music. Some applications, like Youtube or Spotify, offer app-specific volume control. Some apps, like Slack, aren't so convenient to control in this way.
If you're the type of person who enjoys listening to music or podcasts while working, it's critical to have a careful control over volume to avoid developing tinnitus over time. As a guitarist who used to spend the weekends on recklessly loud band practices back in high school, I'm always very careful to avoid making my tinnitus worse. However, this can be challenging when different apps offer different tools for volume control, or none at all. For example, I've often found myself being caught off guard by notifications going off at full volume because my music app was at reduced volume. As a long-time Windows user, I was used to having some kind of built-in system volume mixer functionality, so I knew there had to be something out there for MacOS.
Background Music is a free, open-source MacOS app that provides an impressive array of audio-related functionality. My main point of interest is its mixer function: after installing Background Music, the user is able to individually control the volume for active apps, such as browsers, media players, and chat apps. There is also support built in for auto-pausing media players like Spotify or iTunes when another app plays audio, as well as for recording system audio.
As a huge fan of effective documentation, I want to point out how much I enjoyed reading through the app's README. Everything from features to setup is covered thoroughly, and not only does the author freely point out existing issues with the project but there's even a sizable, nicely organized list of other apps that offer similar functionality!
Using Background Music has been a breeze. I find myself frequently and effortlessly navigating up to the controls to make adjustments when the system volume control won't cut it. It was easy to set up, does exactly what it claims, and integrates seamlessly into my workflow.
One issue that I have come across is when trying to use Background Music with iTerm2. I'll have to do further investigating to see where the issue is coming from, but since I don't usually have much sound coming from iTerm2, it thankfully hasn't been a problem for me.
I generally keep system volume at a minimal level and then use Background Music to further adjust volumes on an app-specific basis, but it's also handy to be able to boost particular app volumes when the need arises. I feel at ease knowing I can adjust volumes to the exact levels that I want, and make sure I'm protecting my hearing. I don't record system audio or use auto-pause very often, but I do find the inclusionof these additional features to be a nice bonus.
I'd like to give out a sincere thanks to all the people who read and commented on my previous post, as well as to those who've followed me on dev.to. This series has already been helpful in many ways, from finding a way to connect with the dev community to more closely examining the tools I use and the way software tools are crafted. As always, if you have any recommendations or comments, please feel free to share! In the meantime, I'll be prepping for my next installment of Workflow Wednesday.
- Background Music on GitHub: https://github.com/kyleneideck/BackgroundMusic