iTunes 12: Pressing the Spacebar Does Not Play or Pause Music

One of the basic playback controls in iTunes has always been the spacebar: press it to either play or pause music. This works in your Music library, in a playlist, when you’ve selected a CD, and also for playing videos, podcasts or audiobooks.

But in iTunes 12, I’m finding that this doesn’t work all the time. I’d not had this problem – ever – in iTunes 11 or earlier, and today I realized what is preventing the spacebar from controlling playback. It’s this:


It seems that if you accidentally press Command-F, and iTunes highlights its search field, and you need to back out of that field. There are two ways to do this: press the Tab key, or click in the iTunes window, on a different library, or on a playlist if the Playlists sidebar is visible. You can also press Command-L to return to whatever track you’re currently playing. If Command-L moves you to another location in your library, pressing that shortcut is enough to get out of the search field.