HowTo: External Winamp Control

Nowadays, Winamp has full support to keyboard shortcuts. But some time ago, when Winamp didn’t have this feature, I was thinking of a way I could change the music just by pressing one button, it would make it faster and easier to change songs, especially during games. So I decided to make an external control to it. I found one Winamp plugin that shows how to configure an external control using the Serial Port, being able to make 4 or 15 buttons control. I decided to make this, step-by-step, how to do it, hope you enjoy.


  • 4 push-buttons
  • SERIAL connector
  • Connector Box
  • Cable

Necessary tools:

  • Soldering iron and accessories

You can put the buttons wherever you want, I decided to put mine in an old diskbox.
I decided to use a network cable to connect the Serial connector to the buttons, because it’s easier to organize and makes the work simpler and faster.

The schematic:

Making the control:

  • Looking at the schematic, we see that we have to connect one side of each button to a cable, these will be soldered in pin number 4.
  • After soldering to one side of each button, you must then connect the other side with a cable that goes to the pins of the serial. Now it is important that they are connected with the indicated pins (Just follow the schematic) .
    Here you can see a picture of my work until now.

Configuring the Software

    The software I used on this was COM-port Winamp Control V.1.42.

  • You must set the COM port you are using. Usually normal computers have 2 ports, so just select the one you plugged the control in.
  • Select the number of buttons your control has. (In this HowTo, I chose “4 buttons”)
  • Now you must remap the buttons. This where you’ll see if everything is working. If you are able to remap all the buttons, congrats, it’s working!!
  • The last step, you have to configure what you want the buttons to do. This can be found in the “WINAMP” of the program. There you can set up many different options, like Volume Up, Volume Down, Next Song, Previous Song.
  • One cool thing is “Type:”, where you can configure the way you want the buttons to respond.
  • Click: Just one click to make it work. Can work with one or double-click.
  • Down/Up: This will activate the option when you press and a different one when you release the button.
  • Turbo: Here you can configure the options for holding the button, usually used for Volume Up and Down.
  • Clicks + Turbo: You can configure “Clicks” and “Turbo” Option at the same time
  • Clicks + Hold: You can configure “Clicks” and “Hold” Option at the same time

In the end, I put the buttons in the disk case and these are the results:

I don’t know if I was clear enough in this HowTo, I will re-check this in some time.
If you liked this, have any correction or advice, please leave a comment! 😉

120 comments on “HowTo: External Winamp Control

  1. Evilpig November 17, 2005 1:41 am

    Nice blog and tutorial !

  2. Pasteler0 November 17, 2005 1:47 am

    I’m just starting it, much to do still and much more to come!!

  3. Rui Moura November 17, 2005 12:17 pm

    Its pretty cool (both the tutorial and the blog :P).

    Btw, voc brasileiro, no ? Show de bola 😛 … lol

  4. charlie November 17, 2005 7:24 pm

    Great job. I wish my computer had a free com port.

  5. john November 17, 2005 7:32 pm

    Great tutorial!
    Just wanted to add that you can also use irDA and Girder software for a wireless remote.

  6. jorge November 17, 2005 7:40 pm

    Very good tutorial, thanks for the infor i am going to try.

  7. Alex November 17, 2005 7:45 pm

    I use IR receiver and Girder. It’s much better to use a remote control!

  8. cg0def November 17, 2005 7:50 pm

    this guy actually pulled it off …
    not the best looking controls but they do the job ( i guess ) I still like the idea of using an actual remote better. Plus it saves you a lot of time looks cooler and it really doesn’t cost that much more.

    But that’s just me.

  9. Interiot November 17, 2005 7:54 pm

    I use a AutoHotKey, WinLIRC, and a universal remote to control several apps on my computer, including Winamp. Yeah, remote controls are better.

  10. Pasteler0 November 17, 2005 7:55 pm

    Yes, I belive its better to have a remote control for winamp and other windows stuff. But at the time I did this, I just wanted to change music while playing games.

  11. Crazy_8 November 17, 2005 9:47 pm

    Well, this could be used very nicely with Car MP3 computers. Would be nicer to just have the buttons you KNOW you need then to have to find them on a big IR control with a number pad and some more buttons. :S

  12. UP0 November 17, 2005 11:49 pm

    Nice work! Any detail on how you made the acrylic case?

  13. Pasteler0 November 17, 2005 11:56 pm

    I got it from an old diskbox.

  14. Pingback: My Blog
  15. robo November 18, 2005 5:04 pm

    nice I’m going to try this.

  16. Pasteler0 November 18, 2005 5:10 pm

    Please, when you do this, let me know how did it end! 😀

  17. Fyre November 18, 2005 8:56 pm

    Could you do one with the 15-button? Or at least provide the pin assignments for a 15-button?


  18. Tim November 18, 2005 10:24 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this howto! I’ve been trying to figure out a way to do this for a long time!

  19. joeven November 19, 2005 3:41 am


  20. jp November 19, 2005 4:11 am

    Nice job! I tried something simmilar, but I wish I would have known about that serial plugin. (Looks like it simplifies things.) I used AutoHotKey and a cannibalized numpad. There are some photos here:

  21. MagicCow November 19, 2005 5:20 am

    This is perfect! I was looking for a way to change song and volume on my antique radio/MP3 player project. I wanted to still use the antique knobs to do it, and this will work.

  22. MagicCow November 19, 2005 5:20 am

    Oh, is there a way to do this with dials instead of push buttons?

  23. DC November 19, 2005 10:21 am

    That’s cool. Now I can build a volume up/down, pause/play and next song controller, and see if I can hide the buttons near the bed, that way I can control the music without going all the way to the computer. 🙂 (I think soft buttons in the corner of the matress would be taking it way to far though… Still thinking…)

  24. t1muk4s November 19, 2005 11:42 am

    Great keep on going !!!!

  25. Brett November 19, 2005 1:05 pm

    Nice work

  26. Pasteler0 November 19, 2005 1:19 pm

    Thanks everybody for the comments. I’ve some more projects to put on this page, they’ll come with time. Thanks again!

  27. JP November 19, 2005 7:14 pm

    You should put an ethernet keystone jack in the back of the plastic case and crimp a connector on the end of the cable, then you can plug it into the back of the plastic case. Then you can make yourself a longer cable or put in an extension, whatever, without having to resolder the switches.

    Very cool hack though.

  28. Pasteler0 November 19, 2005 10:26 pm

    imegabyte, have never seen your site before, but looks quite similar to my project! I was looking, i’ve made this more than 2years ago. 🙂
    By the way, nice project you have there!

  29. seesoe November 20, 2005 4:33 am

    hello i just wanted to say to both Pasteler and imegabyte, nice sites

    I wanted to ask though, i’m gonna use a 25pin cable but i was wondering how would it be wired for 6 bottons? i was thinking to wire it like this

    but im not sure to which pin i would connect the 2 added bottons? then for the com program i was thinking to set it up for 15 bottons.
    if anyone can help me please mail me at [email protected]

  30. linlin November 21, 2005 12:14 am

    Hi, I really enjoy this, it is very simple yet elegant. I believe we will cover something like this, along with a DIY LCD how-to on episode 2 of our IPTV show TeH_ShoW

    Stay tuned and let us know if we do it right 😉

  31. B November 21, 2005 3:11 am

    Good write up. I’ve actually done this twice (using the same plugin) and it works really well. For my carputer I rigged 3 buttons underneath the change slots in my car and ran them to the trunk. All this to say, it does work, and it works rather well.

  32. SterileDaryl November 21, 2005 3:38 am

    Thanks man! I built one myself and it works beautifully! I started using winamp just for that!

  33. quang November 21, 2005 9:02 am

    I tried doing this using a USB to Serial adapter because my laptop doesn’t have any serial ports. But it doesn’t work. The program detects the COM port that i assign it. But the buttons don’t get detected when I press them.

  34. GiGi.Style November 21, 2005 11:44 am

    Lol, just use your symbian phone with a control app, works much much better and safes u a lot of work.


  35. Robbie M November 22, 2005 10:47 pm

    I have having very hard time getting the buttons to work. I have my led lit up and everything. soddered the buttons and nothing. Now do i hafta screw a screw inthe box or something metal for ground or what? I have the led light up. now on the led u have positive and negative right? If not please help me! Thanks. also when i push one of the buttons the light goes off. what did i do wrong and do i hafta run the same wire to all buttons for ground? or how do i do the ground part of it? thanx for your help. You can contact me on aim at KAINRC thanks

  36. Lazer November 23, 2005 7:26 pm

    #35 – quang – I think that the usb-serial converter won’t work in this application because this application uses a non-standard way of using the serial port. The usb-serial converter emulates only certain functions of the serial port. If you do get it to work somehow please post how you did it, thanks!

  37. CowJam November 26, 2005 1:50 pm

    I’ve got a small LCD display which I use for winamp, news feeds, that kind of thing. What I needed was some buttons for it – thanks!

  38. Pasteler0 November 26, 2005 2:00 pm

    I’m very happy that many people found this tutorial useful!! Thanks everyone for the comments!

  39. beginner November 27, 2005 9:38 pm

    I don’t understand how to use more than 4 buttons? could someone please help me on that? where do I wire the other buttons to?

    could project

  40. Pasteler0 November 27, 2005 9:48 pm

    You can download the winamp plugin, and go to the HELP menu, there is a scheme of how to do with more buttons.

  41. maxxor November 30, 2005 8:42 pm

    does everyone have to write a post on how much better IR is, geezus… anyway he probably just wants to change tracks whilst playing games or some kind of fullscreen app

  42. kdubbz December 3, 2005 6:05 am

    Hey i was wondering where you got the push buttons from? I cant find any cool ones like yours. let me know where you got them from, thanks.

  43. Pasteler0 December 3, 2005 11:50 am

    You can find them in any eletronic store!

  44. Winston December 4, 2005 2:50 am

    I actually have a small 200MHz computer that I’ll be putting into my car to play MP3s. This comm-port keypad will allow me to control the volume and play functions remotely. I plan on using and old TV remote arrow buttons for the actual buttons to give it a softer feel.

    thanx for the site

  45. bumsk December 4, 2005 6:12 am

    nice work… went out and prought the pieces today. i am building it now and have dug up an old floppy holding case basicaly the same as yours lol
    thanks heaps.


  46. Kdubbz December 7, 2005 9:51 pm

    Hello I finished my project. I have pics here:
    Later. I was gonna add a 2nd LED but I havent done it yet. I might later on. Any questions jus ask.

  47. Pasteler0 December 7, 2005 11:50 pm

    Kdubbz, nice job man! I really liked your winamp control! Congrats! 🙂

  48. Dano December 10, 2005 2:29 am

    I don’t understand about how to ground it(or where does the ground wire go)or how to connect the LED to everything else.Understand?Please email me at [email protected] or comment after me.

  49. Pasteler0 December 10, 2005 11:43 am

    Dano, the ground pin the the 4th, you connect one leg of all buttons together in this pin.
    For example, button one, connects to pin 9 and 4, button two connects to pin 8 and 4, and so on.

  50. devid December 10, 2005 10:39 pm

    cool & very nice program .

    is it possibile to publish the source code ,i think it will be great .it is vb ?

  51. mark December 14, 2005 8:03 am

    hey… on imegabyte’s site, it says that it will work with a usb-serial convertor… any idea how?!

    thanks! 🙂

  52. mark December 14, 2005 8:44 am

    nvm… found it… sorry!

    thanks 🙂

  53. curtis December 14, 2005 10:06 pm

    if you work long enouph you can build the 15 button model that uses infra-red led’s and a reciever, it took us 2 years but we made a credit card size wireless remote and reciever using the schematic provided in the program used in this tutorial, it works very well and it a plausable build for medium grade skills

  54. Pasteler0 December 14, 2005 10:30 pm

    curtis, thats cool!! Do you have any picture or something like it of your project? I’d love to see 🙂

  55. tanko December 20, 2005 6:44 am

    any one do you know how to get through the BIOS PASSWORD,,
    except by taking the battery out..
    if you know you can mail me at [email protected]

    i wound be thank full

  56. Esbjrn February 21, 2006 12:34 pm

    Hello built one this weekend and it works super.

    Something I wonder is if the program works with a usb converter.
    And diden’t you use som diods??

  57. Pasteler0 February 21, 2006 4:17 pm

    Esbjrn some people tried using the usb converter, but didn’t work.
    If you manage to make it work, please, let me know!

  58. Esbjrn February 21, 2006 8:04 pm

    Hello, no don’t got anyone and I’m not going to buy one if no one have got it to work 🙁 It’s bad beacuse my laptop dosen’t got any com 🙁 F*cking Ibm 🙂

  59. elbarto241 March 3, 2006 8:39 pm

    dont u need a resistor for the two leds? if not y, if u do what kind?

  60. Nevamore March 5, 2006 7:30 am

    any chance of adapting it to a six button?
    just an idea i have

  61. 1101 March 12, 2006 2:22 pm

    Having previously built an 8-LED display for the LPT port, i remember being specifically told that not using resistors on the LED’s would (likley) overdraw the port and fry that part of your motherboard. Having said that LPT is com’s fat ugly cousin, so why wont this fry a com aswell?

    If I build one of these and it frys my 433’s com bus i am gonna be pissed, unless its spectacular or something – lights the house on fire etc.

  62. Mark Peebody April 8, 2006 11:15 pm


    i got the 4 button remote built and it is rather Sweet!!! now i want to build the 15 but i am a little on the slow side and i needed the print out of the 4 button so if you could publish or send me the picture of the 15 button diagram i would REALY like that A LOT

    Thank you much!!!

  63. Scott Olof April 13, 2006 2:13 am

    Great. I am definitely going to make one.

  64. benhall April 16, 2006 4:22 am

    hi this is just what i need.

    im building a laptop into and old CDplayer case for the original front pannel.

    what would be great is primary and secondary leds have repeat and shuffle triggers. so you know its on shuffle or repeat.


  65. Eiffel May 6, 2006 12:03 pm

    Here in Portugal, where i can buy the material? Anybody knows? :S

    Stay Well [[]]

  66. Nachtwandler June 10, 2006 9:52 am

    Very Nice. I like this tutorial 😀
    Since i have no Bluetooth adapter for my Symbian phone i built this. (the ultra-cheap version :D)

    I used an old MC-Case and 4 different colored buttons (I already had them in my room and I was too lazy to run to Conrad and buy some new same-colored buttons^^). I left the paper in the box because IMO its looking much better than with a transparent ground.
    The two LEDs (also lying around in my room*g*) are fixed with Tesa (clear scotch tape??) in the
    center of the case.

    The next thing i will do is using blue/white or one multicolor LED instead of those lame-looking green and yellow LEDs.

    You can find photos here:

    Greetings from Germany

  67. darkcloud July 14, 2006 6:46 am

    hello, peepz

    nice article. I was wondering if it is possible to do this but with only 3 buttons ? .. im short on long distance wire :P.

  68. Ewout August 2, 2006 6:16 pm

    Nice project, made one to…

    I like the remote because you do have to see wath you are doing, the monitor of my computer is most of the time off.
    4 buttons is all I need…

  69. Suicider August 20, 2006 11:53 pm

    Pasteler0, im thanks to visit my blog…

  70. indybird August 23, 2006 1:41 am

    I know everyone here uses Winamp, but I am a Windows Media Player lover and I really like your idea, I’ve been wanting to put some built-in media buttons on my computer case. Is there any way I can use this with Windows Media Player?

  71. Pasteler0 August 25, 2006 12:29 am

    indybird, sorry man, have no idea!

  72. Michael September 11, 2006 10:56 pm

    I’m very interested in using your device in a community center I work at. We need to create a way of controling several sessions of WinAmp at the same time. We need to control when each session of winamp plays it’s file. I don’t need to change files, in any of the sessions except the first. We are running 5 sessions of WinAmp on the same PC with XP Pro. Can we have a switch device control each or the sessions, only to trigger the file play in the 4 and to change to the next file in a library for the last session, via say, switches? Say if I’m running 9 sessions of WinAmp at the same time, can I control the playing of their pre-selected files via the switchs, and your program?

    I don’t get paid at the center, it’s my volunteer work, and I’m trying to help them put together a Halloween Scare House.

    Michael Forte
    Easton Community Center

  73. Pasteler0 September 12, 2006 12:52 am

    Hey michael, sorry,
    I’m not sure how to do this using this scheme. But why do you need to use so many Winamp programs at the same time? If you’re trying to put many different sound at the same time, you could use some program like Sound Forge and join all together and using a loop to make the music repeats.

  74. Ujn2 September 14, 2006 8:00 am

    Could you please post a link to some bigger pictures…

    Or another thing….. is it posible just to connect 1 button?

  75. Fredrik Ragnarsson October 7, 2006 11:57 pm

    Very nice tutorial I must say!!! Thanks 🙂

  76. - October 18, 2006 2:20 pm

    A much metter way of controlling your music player is using a cheap gamepad: I use a 10 button Logitech gamepad to control XMMS (GNU/Linux/UNIX equivalent of Winamp).

  77. daw November 12, 2006 12:44 pm

    i did something wronge(( its not working :((

  78. daw November 12, 2006 8:29 pm

    oh got it working… except one button.. i think i did something to the button so i wll get another one on sunday

  79. rc cars December 17, 2006 9:03 am

    Yo, thanks for that tutorial! I’m going to have to spend some time trying to understand it now 🙂

  80. Pasteler0 December 18, 2006 8:08 am

    rc cars, nica man! Show us the result then. 🙂

  81. Con February 9, 2007 2:39 am

    Hi there,
    Very nice tutorial! I did tried and it works just fine! i’m using it all the time now. Thanks 🙂

  82. Vince March 23, 2007 9:24 pm

    Thank you for this tutorial and schematics. I found an old 4 button remote control at a surplus store yesterday and hacked it today for this purpose. It works perfectly for my needs.

    I did have one difficulty – interpreting what you meant by “pins assignment while watching the port from the outside”. The pin numbers you have marked off are actually a standard – if you look at the front of a db9f connector, the pin numbers are exact to your schematic. The wording “pins assignment…” made me think that I had to look at the front of a db9m connector, meaning my db9f would be a mirror image. This is not the case. I suggest you simply remove the words as the diagram is perfect.

    Thanks again, this is VERY cool.

  83. TPB May 6, 2007 4:02 am

    do you have design for a single button to comport or even USB…???

  84. Jason July 4, 2007 4:24 am

    I built a quite nice looking remote using the instructions provided, and it works great.

    Pics here:[email protected]/

    After I confirmed that it was working, I took it out of my serial port, and plugged it into my USB->Serial Adapter, and it worked great. No configuration changes required (other than the COM port setting). I do not understand why everyone else was having problems.

    — Jason

  85. Pasteler0 July 4, 2007 11:59 am

    Well done Jason! I haven’t tried to use a USB -> Serial yet, but it’s good to know that it works! I think if someone is having problems may be because they didn’t configure right. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  86. Esbjörn April 21, 2008 6:14 am

    Does it work on linux?

  87. sehven May 10, 2008 7:21 am

    thx! i have just made mine ^_^ but got no pic of it yet hehe

    how do i config second led? thx again!!

  88. Diego June 13, 2008 11:50 pm

    Hello! I’m Argentinean, and i don´t know speek or write english well… so i´m sorry…
    I need change the buttons (The green buttons) for any electronic circuit because i’m doing a remote control for winamp. I don´t know how make it… if anyone can help me!!!! thank you… and sorry if you can´t understand me!!!!

  89. Robert November 23, 2008 1:56 am

    I would like to know if you can use this on USB not on SERIAL?

    • Erke November 18, 2010 6:47 pm

      I’m using USB-to-Com Port adapter…

      Actually WAS using, with XP now i’m on win7 and trying to figure out a way to run comctrl.exe

  90. nilesh July 11, 2009 4:11 am

    ur r genius daniel

  91. Gonazar December 12, 2009 7:54 am

    What do you do with pin 2 and 3? Is it possible to use them to add two more buttons? It would be great if there was a way to setup for play/pause, stop, forward, back, volume up and volume down.

    Alternatively is it possible to set one button something like a ‘shift’ button and have the mapping ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’, ‘shift+1’, ‘shift+2’, ‘shift+3’?

  92. Pheidias December 19, 2009 10:22 pm

    I made one of these a few years ago in an Altoids tin, and came here looking for a USB solution for my new netbook. No joy there.

    Gonazar: There is a double tap option so you can program 8 functions, IIRC. I always had a little trouble with it though.

  93. Haiko August 24, 2010 3:14 pm

    When i install the plugin there is a error:
    Couldn’t open the file:
    C:\Program Files(x86)\Winamp\Plugins\COMctrl.exe
    for writing.

    My System:
    Win 7 x64

    Can somebody help me?
    Sorry for my english i am from Germany

    • Erke November 18, 2010 6:44 pm

      Got the same issue, with windows 7

      I can’t get the software to show me the interface, it is running in the task manager, but can’t see it on task bar!!!

      Please help us…

      • Erke November 18, 2010 8:03 pm

        alright I changed the port numbers to correct ones from the .ini file and the exe worked!!!


  94. Stelios July 5, 2012 11:54 am

    Hello Pasteler0, are you still on this project?

    • DanielAndrade July 5, 2012 11:57 am

      Hey man, no I’m not. But maybe I can still help!

  95. Aron July 9, 2013 5:04 pm

    When i install the plugin there is a error:
    Couldn’t open the file:
    C:Program Files(x86)WinampPluginsCOMctrl.exe

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