Windows: If you use a standard keyboard without media keys, or want universal access to Windows Media Player when it's in the background, WMP Keys is the perfect plug-in. It sets customised, universal shortcuts for playing and rating WMP tracks.
Close down Media Player, install WMP Keys, then open it back up and head to your Options. In the "Background" category in your Plug-Ins menu, enable WMP Keys, and hit Properties if you want to venture beyond the defaults, which generally involve Ctrl+Alt key combos. My laptop has universal media keys that work with WMP (by using the Fn button), but I use an external, plain-Jane Logitech keyboard hooked up to my laptop at most times, so WMP Keys is kind of just what I needed.
WMP Keys ties in nicely with our latest thoughts on learning to love Windows Media Player, and is, best of all, a free download for Windows systems.