Windows 8: Revealing the Music OSD Without Changing Volume

The Windows 8 music OSD is a nice little feature of the oft-criticized operating system. The fact that it is so often criticized comes from a whole handful of little complaints about UI choices that are not always defensible. Case in point, the only built-in way to reveal the OSD is by using the volume change buttons. While this might make sense on a tablet or smartphone (I love my Nokia Lumia 920), it is less justifiable on the full OS. A member of the /r/windowsphone community recently asked if there were any way to make this music OSD appear without modifying the volume. The short answer is: technically, no. But we can accomplish effectively the same goal with a simple little workaround with thanks to AutoHotkey.

The Win8 Music control OSD
The Win8 Music control OSD

Option 1: Install AutoHotkey and Run the Customizable Script

I am a huge proponent of installing the framework on your machine and tinkering around with it. Lifehacker has my back on this. If you spend even a little bit of time learning how to take advantage of it, you can solve almost any problem you come up with (despite its name, it is not strictly for mapping hotkeys). If you’re at all interested in going down that path, I have provided the script for your use and modification below. The advantage to Option 1 is that you can set the hotkey to reveal the OSD to be whatever you would like.

Get the customizable script here

Option 2: Download a Pre-Made .exe

If, however, you’re not comfortable with or interested in installing AutoHotkey and touching the script yourself, I have compiled a downloadable .exe for you (also linked below), which you can download and use immediately. The drawback here is that you have to use the hotkey that I have chosen myself, which is Ctrl+W.

Get the pre-made .exe here

Now for what I meant when I said it was technically impossible to reveal this music OSD without modifying the volume:

My script does a few simple things. When you press Ctrl+W (or whatever hotkey you set if you chose Option 1 above), it checks the volume that you are currently at. It then sends the volume-up media key to bring up the music OSD, and then it immediately reverts back to the volume you were using prior to the key being sent. In testing this script, I ran it multiple times while listening to a song and was unable to identify any audible change in volume. I don’t know if that will be true for everyone.

Admittedly, this is a hack that shouldn’t be required in the first place, and I understand if it’s not the answer you came here to find. That being said, I was unable to find anything better out there, so please leave a comment if you come up with something better.


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