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Im looking for a way to put basic controls like pause, play, and skip to the top taskbar (the area which displays the time, battery, mail, titles of pages in chrome...) or some other convenient way to have banshee controls available to me at all times even when in a maximized window.

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those controls are in the volume indicator - is this missing on your desktop? –  fossfreedom Jan 21 '12 at 21:22
    
oh wow. i spent like an hour looking for this. thanks for pointing this out, i feel so dumb. –  Jon Jan 21 '12 at 21:42

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Generally, most music/media-player applications such as Banshee supports the Unity-volume indicator:

enter image description here

From there you have the standard stop-pause-play controls as well as control over your playlists.

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An alternative is to use Keyboard Shortcuts and set some of the Sound shortcuts as shown in this screenshot. enter image description here.

In this example, I have set shortcuts for previous and next tracks (Ctrl+Alt+PgUp, Ctrl+Alt+PgDn).

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