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Volume Adjuster for iTunes

A small (free) tool to keep the music flowing from Windows iTunes to HomePods.
by Bryan T. Kinkel, bryan dot kinkel at geee mail
Based on research and a hunch by Bumbeen in the Apple Community Forums.
Last updated: 11/17/20

Disclaimer - This work is based on discussion and research about problems playing music from a Windows PC running iTunes to a HomePod using AirPlay. Links to various online discussions about the topic are at the bottom of this document. This workaround software works for me and has been tested by others in the community. It may or may not work for you. But I sincerely hope it does. Your mileage may vary!

This should just work...

The Symptoms

You are streaming music using AirPlay from iTunes for Windows to an Apple HomePod. It sounds great and you are happy. The music will stop on the HomePod after an arbitrary amount of time. The music continues to play on iTunes itself. The silenced HomePod appears in the iTunes Speakers dropdown with a dreaded “minus” icon.

To restart the music you have to click the HomePod again in the iTunes speaker dropdown. You can also restart the music by tapping the HomePod off then on in the iOS iTunes Remote app. The music may continue stream for a while. Or it may stop again. It is super irritating and you begin to loathe your HomePod.

Other observations:
  • It happens with recent versions of iTunes such as
  • This has been mainly happening with AirPlay 2 based HomePods and Apple TV 4 units.
  • AirPlay 2 enabled AirPort Express devices seem to work fine.
  • AirPlay 1 (or 2?) built into audio receivers also works fine.

The (suspected) Problem

Based on research done by Bumbeen in the Apple Community Forums, it looks like recent versions of iTunes are failing to send regular keep-alive messages to AirPlay clients on TCP port 7000. Bumbeen used Wireshark to record and analyze the communication between iTunes and his HomePod. When iTunes failed to send the keep-alive message, the music stopped. This happens with HomePods and Apple TV devices. AirPort Express and other non-Apple AirPlay clients seem to be unaffected.

The Workaround

In a follow up post, Bumbeen documented using the popular Windows macro program AutoHotkey to trigger a 1% volume change in iTunes. Doing this every 25 seconds or so was enough to keep the communication (and music!) between iTunes and the HomePod stable. The 1% volume change is hardly noticeable.

However AutoHotKey is not really a good engine for this sort of background task.

So I took this idea and wrote a small app. iTunes on Windows exposes itself as a programmable interface via a COM object. My app uses the COM interface and instructs iTunes to periodically change the volume.

The app itself is simple. When run, it establishes communication with iTunes via the COM interface. Every 20 seconds it sends a 1% volume change, waits 1.5 seconds, then sets the volume back to where it was. The 1.5 second wait gives iTunes time to alert AirPlay clients that something happened. In fact, if you watch the main volume slider on iOS Remote App, you can see the volume move a couple of pixels.

You can change the volume delta percent and the time. But I don’t think you will need to change it. It is fun to change the "Volume Change" field to 50 just to make sure the volume change is hitting iTunes. Any changes are not saved.

System Requirements

This app was built on a Windows 10 machine with Visual Studio. It uses the Microsoft .NET 4.7.2 framework. So you need to have .NET installed. It should already be installed on your machine and up to date. If not, use the link below. You want the .NET Framework 4.8 "for apps" download. Do not download .NET Core.

This software is for Microsoft Windows. There is no version for the Mac.

How To Run

  1. Extract the ZIP file to a folder anywhere on your PC.
  2. Make sure iTunes is running before the start the Volume Adjuster.
  3. Double click the iTunesVolumeAdjuster.exe icon.

If you get the "Windows protected your PC" dialog, click "Run anyway". This dialog shows up because this is a new, novel app and I have not signed the EXE with a software publishing certificate.

When it starts, you should see a window that looks like the one pictured above. It will start doing its volume adjusting work as soon as the screen is displayed.

If the software does not start you might have to install .NET as noted above. Or there might be something else going on. Shoot me a note at bryan dot kinkel at gee mail and I will try to help out.

Version History

Version 1.01 - Released 9/11/20
- New "Minimize to tray" feature.
- Added adjustment counter.
- Improved display on high DPI monitors.
- Application is now single instance.

Version 1.0 - Released 09/02/20
Initial version

iTunes & tvOS Testing

Update 11/17/20 - I've added the table below to keep track of testing iTunes and tvOS (HomePod & Apple TV) updates without the Volume Adjuster software.

= This combination of iTunes and tvOS still has the time out problem. The Volume Adjuster software will likely fix this.
= Unknown. Have not been able to test.
= Apple fixed it! Notice how there are no green checks in the chart.

iTunes 12.10.10 is out. I need to get it installed and tested. I do not have a HomePod mini (yet). If anyone has any concrete testing results for the new speaker, send me a note and I will post the results.

iTunes Tested tvOS 14.2
tvOS 14.2
tvOS 14.2
mini 11/16/20
12.10.10 not yet    

My Particular Scenario

If you are interested, here are the details for my use case. In my household we stream music 24/7 from an iTunes PC to various AirPlay-enabled speakers throughout the house. We have a HomePod, multiple Apple TVs hooked to soundbars and two full stereo systems connected to AirPort Express devices. Controlling party music throughout the house and desk with iTunes, AirPlay and the iOS Remote App is awesome.

We have excellent gigabit Verizon FiOS with an Apple AirPort Extreme based home network. This 10 year old Apple gear network has taken the brunt of the blame for the AirPlay issues. But it works and I really don't want to replace it.

The kitchen HomePod is always playing internet radio streamed from the iTunes server. Our family loves music. So it is always on. It also acts as a sort of network health meter. If the music stops, everyone knows something is up with the network.

The HomePod was itself was an upgrade from an AirPlay 1 enabled Panasonic shelf stereo. It served us well for many years. But the HomePod simply sounds better.

I encountered the iTunes disconnect issue with our AppleTV 4 before we got the HomePod. And I spent a lot of time trying to debug it with no success. As soon as we upgraded to the HomePod we encountered the same issue. For months I’ve been using the iOS iTunes Remote app to toggle the HomePod speaker to keep the music flowing.

This little app has been running on my home system since 9/2/20 and seems to help fix the issue.

I hope this fixes your iTunes > HomePod problems!

Special Thanks

Research & Original Idea - Bumbeen in the Apple Community Forums
Testing & Feedback - John Baker, Lindsay Boggs, Dayanand, Alexander Robinson

Resources and Links

Bumbeen's original post about a potential solution in the Apple Community Forums

The whole entire "Homepod disconnects or stops playing music from itunes randomly"

iTunes COM Interface Documentation

Other forum discussions (active) (locked)