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Create Custom Media Controls With BetterTouchTool Remote

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Read Time: 4 min

In the previous tutorial, I showed you basics of using BetterTouchTool Remote (BTT Remote) to control a Mac. It’s an iOS app that connects to one of my favourite Mac automation apps: BetterTouchTool. You get all the power of BetterTouchTool, but you can trigger it from an iOS device.

In this tutorial I'll show you how to take things further by building a set of actions to control a Plex Media centre.

Before continuing, you’ll need to have read:

You'll also need:

Launching Plex from BTT Remote

Start by making a command to launch Plex and close down any other media apps. 

Open BetterTouchTool and create a new Global BTT Remote action. Call it something like Launch Plex.

first actionfirst actionfirst action
Creating the first action.

It needs the following actions:

  • Controlling Other Applications > Open Application/File/etc. > Plex Media Server
  • Controlling Other Applications > Send Shortcut to Specific Application sending Command-Q to Spotify, iTunes, and any other media apps you have
  • Controlling Other Applications > Open Application/File/etc. > Plex
  • Custom Keyboard Shortcut > Command-F
finsihed first actionfinsihed first actionfinsihed first action
The finished first action.

When you run this action, Plex Media Server and the Plex media player will both start running with the media player in full screen. Any other media apps that might interfere with things will close down. 

Going Directly to Movies

Add some actions that control different parts of Plex. To do this, I'll use BTT Remote to get BetterTouchTool to trigger Plex’s keyboard shortcuts

I only want these actions available in Plex so add and select Plex left sidebar.

targetting plextargetting plextargetting plex
Creating a new actions set for Plex.

Create a new action and call it something like Movies or Go to Movies. Here’s what it needs to do:

  • Send the keyboard shortcut H
  • Send the keyboard shortcut Shift-M
  • And optionally, send the Keyboard Shortcut Return followed by send the keyboard Shortcut Return

This tells Plex to go to it’s home screen, select Movies, and press Return twice to navigate through the interface so you can actually select a film. 

Before just blindly following these instructions, confirm that these series of steps will work with your install of Plex. If you’ve got a different interface set up, you might need to modify to get them to work.

finished actionfinished actionfinished action
The working Go To Movies action.

Also, depending on the specs of your system, you may need to add a Delay Next Action action between the first and second and second and third steps. 

Set the delay to between 0.5 of a second and 1 second as needed. This will stop BetterTouchTool from sending the commands too quickly for them to be executed.

Going Directly to TV Shows

TV shows are the other big category of media you’ll most likely watch through Plex so it’s worth setting up a similar command to go directly to them. 

Create a new action and this time, call it something like TV Shows or Go to TV Shows. It’s going to be very similar to the previous one. It needs to:

  • Send the Keyboard Shortcut H
  • Send the Keyboard Shortcut Shift-T
  • And optionally, Send the Keyboard Shortcut Return followed by Send the Keyboard Shortcut Return

By sending Shift-T instead of Shift-M, TV Shows will be selected instead of movies. As before, if you need to, you can add in 0.5 second or 1 second delays to make sure Plex has enough time to process all the commands. 

Using BTT Remote to Control Plex

Now that some basic actions have been set up, look at how to use BTT Remote to control Plex

With BTT Remote open, you’ll be able to trigger the Launch Plex action from where ever you want. 

Once it launches, you’ll have two additional actions available: Go to Movies and Go to TV Shows.

btt remotebtt remotebtt remote
The Launch Plex action is available everywhere. The Go to Movies and Go to TV Shows actions are only available when Plex is running. 

You’ll also be able to control Plex using some of BTT Remote’s other tools so you don’t have to create actions for absolutely everything. 

Swipe to the right and you’ll be able to use the built-in media keys and built-in arrow keys to navigate the Plex interface.

BTT remote 2BTT remote 2BTT remote 2
BTT Remote's built in tools let you control Plex without having to build too many actions.

And just like that, you’ll be able to take complete control of Plex without having to touch the Mac.

Wrapping Up

In this tutorial I’ve used Plex as and example but you certainly aren’t limited to it. The same ideas and techniques can be adapted for almost any other app. If you want to automate Spotify, Netflix or even just your web browser, you can. 

All you have to do is think about it logically. Break the things you want to turn into actions into simple steps that use keyboard shortcuts, or other BetterTouchTool commands.

Combine them, using delays if you need to, and then sit back and use an iOS device to control a Mac.

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