Spotify has grown from being a small Swedish startup to become the most well-known music streaming platform in the world, dragging the whole industry into a new way of thinking about music along the way.
Whether you’ve joined up for Spotify yet or not, chances are you’ve heard of it, and there’s more to the Spotify apps than you might think.
Run smarter searches
The search box is the centre of the Spotify experience but you don’t just have to type out the name of a band, album or track.
You can restrict your search by adding “year:1980-1985” to the query, for example, to find songs and albums recorded during those years; you can also use the “genre:” operator to look for music matching a particular genre, like rock, disco or punk.
Filter your playlists
Those Spotify playlists can get a little out of hand can’t they? That’s why the Spotify apps for Windows and Mac include a simple filter tool: just get the playlist in question up on the screen, then tap Ctrl+F (or Cmd+F on a Mac) and enter your query — tracks matching whatever you’ve typed show up on screen.
Don’t forget you can sort playlists by particular columns too by clicking on the column headings.
Control Spotify remotely
Spotify’s apps for Android and iOS have a special feature that you might not have noticed before: they can control playback on your computer, and vice versa.
Via the playback controls on your desktop and mobile apps (look for the volume icon or devices link respectively) you can switch between your different devices seamlessly and control the playback from any of them — you just need to be signed into the same Spotify account on the same Wi-Fi network.
Bring back your deleted playlists
If you deleted a playlist you want to get back don’t panic, because you can undelete it for a limited period of time (it’s not clear how long) through the Spotify website.
If you log into Spotify.com (not the Spotify Web player) then you’ll find a Recover playlists link on the left-hand side, and you can bring back any playlist listed here with a click. The same Web portal lets you manage your other account settings as well.
Put your playlists into folders
We’ve already mentioned one tip for taming your playlists and here’s another: you can put your playlists into folders if you want to clear some room on the left-hand side of the Spotify interface.
Open the File menu and click New Playlist Folder or right-click anywhere in the playlist list and choose Folder — you can then give your new folder a name and start dragging existing playlists into it.
Import your own songs
One of Spotify’s best features actually harks back to the old days — the days of the MP3. If Spotify doesn’t have something in its catalogue, such as a rare b-side or outtake, then you can import the track from your hard drive instead.
From the desktop app, go to Edit and then Preferences, and under the Local Files heading you can set the folders that Spotify should watch: any files added to these folders get imported automatically.
Change the quality
When you’re out and about listening to songs on your mobile device, you can either stream tracks and take the hit on your mobile data bill, or cache them in advance for offline listening.
Whichever option you choose, you get to pick the quality of the tracks — head into the Settings page on your Android or iOS device and you’ll find a music quality section where you can choose from a list for both streamed and downloaded music.
Go back in time
If you want to get back to a great track you heard a few minutes (or hours) ago, it’s not always easy — but there is a way to do it. If you click the queue button on the playback bar inside the desktop app, you can switch to see your listening history as well as the upcoming queue.
It’s perfect if you want to go back to something you’ve just listened to – but it’s not yet available on the mobile apps, unfortunately.
Add Last.fm to Spotify
For those of you keen to go back even further and build up a truly comprehensive picture of your listening history, we can wholeheartedly recommend the free service Last.fm.
It works with Spotify as well as a host of other services (Rdio, iTunes), tracking everything you listen to through a process called ‘scrobbling’. You can then look back on months or years of listening and get new recommendations based on your tastes.
Touch and hold to preview
This one’s just for the Spotify app on iOS, but it’s very useful: if you’re browsing a playlist, you can tap and hold to preview a song without actually committing to it.
Keep your finger down and move it around to preview other tracks, and when you lift it off the screen you’ll go back to whatever you were previously listening to — it’s a handy way of checking out other playlists without messing up your current queue.
Keep your playlists private
Anyone who visits your profile on Spotify can see what you’ve been listening to and any playlists you’ve made public — and you don’t necessarily want to share your love of cheesy 80s pop with the wider world (or maybe you do?).
Right-click on any of your playlists to set them to public or private; you can also set the default behaviour for new playlists by going into the Settings page and toggling the Automatically make new playlists public switch one way or the other.
Work on playlists with others
Got a road trip or a big party coming up in the near future? Take advantage of Spotify’s collaborative playlist feature, which lets you work on playlists with other users — right-click on one and choose Collaborative Playlist to get started, then right-click again and choose Share to pick who you want to help you.
The playlist automatically appears in his or her Spotify account too, and you can both add tracks to it.
Steal other people’s playlists
You probably know you can subscribe to other people’s playlists on Spotify, which is a great way of finding new music to listen to: the downside is that those playlists can be changed without notice by their owners.
To create a copy in your own account, highlight all the tracks in the playlist, then choose Add to Playlist and create a new playlist. You can also add the songs to an existing playlist if you prefer.
Sing along with your music
Have you spotted the lyrics option down on the playback bar in the desktop apps yet? Click on it and you get the chance to turn Spotify into a makeshift karaoke machine.
You can toggle the Full Lyrics switch to see more of what’s coming up, and use the Options button to change the font size and turn off the background image (usually a picture of the artist in question). Lyrics are provided by the Musixmatch website.
Power through Spotify with keyboard shortcuts
Like most other desktop applications, Spotify has a bunch of keyboard shortcuts you can use to move around the interface more quickly.
There’s a full list on the Spotify website, but here are some useful ones: Ctrl+Shift+Down to quickly mute the volume, Ctrl-Right or Ctrl+Left to go backwards or forwards through the current playlist, and Space to pause playback (and start it again). You can also quickly jump to the Spotify Preferences screen by hitting Ctrl+P on the keyboard.