Change iChatโ€™s โ€˜Current iTunes Songโ€™ Status Message

Buddy List
When I’m working on my computer and listening to some music, I’ll usually set iChat’s status message to ‘Current iTunes Song’ so those on my buddy list can see what I’m listening to.

This does just that, displays the song title only. I wanted it to also display the artist name, and the fact that it’s what was currently playing in iTunes (otherwise it would appear that I’m just promoting a certain artist and song to the world).

Navigate to~/Library
and open it in Property List Editor or a text editor. If you don’t have Property List Editor installed, I’d highly reccommend doing so. It can be found on your Tiger or Leopard install disc, in the Developer folder.

Find the entry called ‘iTunesMessageFormat‘ and change it to whatever you want. By defualt, it should say %Track. I made mine say Listening to: %Artist – %Track to show that I’m currently listening to a certain artist and their song. I’m not 100% sure what other fields will work, but I’d assume things like %Album %Year %Genre %Playlist etc would work.


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  1. Reply Alexis

    LMAO!!!! bahahahahahhaha! i love that my doofus face is published to the internet. front and center.

    btw. heard of the concept “tribook” by apple? check it out, it’s pretty sweeet!

    • Reply acletras

      Hey at least I had the decency to block out screen names!

      Yeah, I saw that concept in Macworld or Mac|Life or one of the Apple magazines I subscribe to. It’s actually a design by the magazine, nothing to do with the big A, but it’s still interesting. I just want an AppleTV with built in DVR and I’ll be good for a while.

  2. Reply Ajan

    hey, I wasn’t able to find the “iChat” folder in that location, but I found the plist. However, there’s no ‘iTunes Message Format’ in it.

  3. Reply Ajan

    Ooh, I tried just entering “%Artist – %Track” on the iChat application itself, and it worked ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Reply acletras

    Ajan, this post was written when OS X Leopard was the current operating system, and I have not updated it for Snow Leopard. However, the fix is easy. As you’ve found, in Snow Leopard, is just located in ~/Library/Preferences (with ~/ of course, being your home folder in the /Users/ folder). The rest of the post should be the same, but if you don’t see the “iTunesMessageFormat” key, you can manually add it in as a child of the root. Just make sure you get the capitalization right, and set it’s type to “String” and set the Value to what I mentioned in the post (Listening to: %Artist โ€“ %Track).

    Lastly, having Property List Editor installed will make this much easier. It’s part of the Developer Tools which can be found on your OS X installation disc, or your can also use your favorite search engine to find the free application called Plist Buddy. Good luck!

  5. Reply Ajan

    Hey, tried it actually. I already had XCode installed long back. Anyways, my operating system is still Leopard itself 10.5.8.
    Guess something is clashing with the iChat code when we try in that way.

    After I added “%Artist – %Track” directly on the iChat app (near the away icon), it started working perfect. But after we add the child as mentioned above, “%Artist – %Track” stops showing the song Artist name and Track name, instead shows the actual words and the % symbol. And even the child that we add doesn’t show under the drop down list of saved status messages, however it sets itself as the present status message once iChat is launched. I’m using iTunes 9.1.1.

    I’m still searching for an answer ๐Ÿ™‚

    Pardon me if I have confused you ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. Reply acletras

    Not to worry, you haven’t confused me at all ๐Ÿ™‚ I just tried it on a fresh 10.5.8 system, and the plist file is in the same location as 10.6 (~/Library/Preferences). I added in the iTunesMessageFormat child, set it to String and added Listening to: %Artist – %Track in the value field. I saved the plist, quit iChat, quit iTunes, relaunched both, set the iChat status to “Current iTunes Song” and it worked. iChat remembers the last status you used and automatically sets it to that when you launch iChat, so that’s why it keeps setting itself. As for the percent sign and the text showing up when you entered it directly as a status message, I don’t think the GUI is set up to reliably handle those variables, but modifying the plist file should do it. Hope this helps!

  7. Reply acletras

    Great! Do you mean you’d like to have it as a custom Away message, with the red bubble instead of green? If so, look in the same folder you found and look for

    You should see two keys, one called CustomAvailableMessages, and CustomAwayMessages. Expand CustomAwayMessages, and add a new child. It will automatically name it Item X (X being the next number in line). Make sure it’s type is String and add the same value as before. Save the plist, and just for good measure, restart your Mac. When it comes back up, launch iChat and iTunes, set your status to that new message and it should work. I did have to quit and reopen iChat and iTunes a few times to get it to work, but I’m hoping that doing the restart will take care of that.

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