After months of rumors, whispers, and flat-out teasing by CEO Daniel Elk, Spotify finally hit the U.S. back in July. Even though the streaming music service is still a bit green behind the ears in America, Spotify is no rookie; it’s been the proverbial 800 lb. gorilla on the European front for years. Now that you’ve had a couple of months to get used to Spotify’s deep catalog and basic abilities, it’s time to get serious and slip on your Maximum PC power user hat. That European gestation time gave Spotify a chance to jam-pack the application with all kinds of secrets, shortcuts, and features – and we’re here to give you the grand tour. But why are we still blabbering when we could be educating? Let’s get this Spotify guide going!
Ditch The Mouse
We’ll start off by improving your navigation skills. If you’re the kind of person who glares at a mouse with the same look of disdain that Neil Young reserves for rampant file sharers, you’re in luck! Spotify includes tons of keyboard shortcuts. Here’s a few of the more useful ones:
“Spacebar” pauses or unpauses the music.
“Ctrl” + “Shift” + “Down” controls the mute function.
“Crtl” + “Up” increases the volume, while “Crtl” + “Down” decreases it.
“Crtl” + the right arrow key skips forward one track; “Crtl” + the left arrows key skips back.
“Crtl” + “L” plops the cursor in the search field.
Ponying up the $10/month for a premium subscription does more than just kick the ads to the curb and increase the bitrate to 320Kbps. Your cash also opens up the ability to listen to Spotify playlists on up to three mobile devices, even when you’re offline. Simply connect your phone to the Internet and open up a playlist you want to be able to listen to at any time, then slide the Available Offline switch to “On.” Spotify downloads the tracks to your computer for Internet-free listening. You can save up to 3,333 songs in offline mode on three separate devices, and it’s included on the desktop client for Premium subscribers. That's 10k songs at your Internet-free fingertips.
Advanced Search Options
Check out all the hot and heavy advanced filter action in the search bar,
Anybody can type in “Kelis” and be shaking their milkshake in the yard before they know it, but if you want to dig out obscure gems or simply tighten up your search results, you’re going to want to use Spotify’s advanced search options.
Prefacing a search with “album:”, “title:”, or “artist:” limits the search to that aspect of a song. Don’t include a space between the colon and the target of your search. If there are multiple words in your search parameter, bracketing them in quotation marks will only return results that carry every word inside the quotes. For example, artist:”Black Keys” only offers results that include both words, whereas the search results for artist:Black Keys (without quotes) will toss up anything with the word “Black” or “Keys”. You can also limit searches by prefacing them with “year:”, “label:” and “genre:”, which could be useful for indie fans.
Boolean operators? Spotify’s got those, too. Use multiple filters at once – similar to the AND command – by including a space between them, such as genre:rock artist:”Queens of the Stone Age. Adding “OR” between two sections of a search will have the service scour its catalog for both sections separately, rather than treating it as a single search, and return them on one results page. Finally, you can place a dash (-) in front of a word to exclude searches that include that term from the results. For example, searching for beck –artist:jeff will keep guitar god Jeff Beck from clogging up your searches for Beck, the guy who made “Loser” back in the 1990s.
Sharing Is Caring
Look at all those social options!
Spotify doesn’t focus on social media with the same relentless obsession that Rdio does, but it still includes plenty of options for sharing your favorite songs and playlists. Simply right-click on a song or playlist and select “Share To” to quickly and easily share the information to Facebook, Twitter, Messenger or a specific Spotify user. You can also copy an HTTP link for the song or playlist to link to it on a website. “Copy Spotify URI” creates a link that opens Spotify and plays the song when someone clicks on it.
Focus On The Blistering Solo, Not The Boring Intro
Spotify URI's let you link to specific parts of specific songs.
Building off the last tip, Spotify allows you to alter its direct URI links to start song playback at a specific point in the track. Simply add # to the end of the Spotify URI, then entire the time stamp for the part of the song you want to link to. Need a visual? spotify:track:4MB8cfTICv4aCpZplYUENd opens up the track “Sun Dance” by the band Tomahawk, which happens to have a withering burst of Native American-inspired rock about 50 seconds in. Typing spotify:track:4MB8cfTICv4aCpZplYUENd#0:50 when you include it as a link opens the track right at that spot. To do the same with an HTTP URL, replace the # with “%23” – minus the quotes. It’s excellent for when you want to share a cool part of a track with a pal.
Add Music From Unusual Places To Your Library
Adding local files to Spotify via the Local Pages tab.
You’ve probably already noticed that Spotify makes all the music you have on iTunes or in your Music and Download folders available in the Local Files tab on the left side of the screen. But what if you keep your music on an external hard drive or an oddly named folder? (For example, I keep mine in a folder dubbed “The Savage Beast”.) Simple: open the Local Files tab, then click on the “Music from your computer” link at the top of the page. Scroll down a bit until you see “Local Files,” then click on “Add Source” and include the location of your hidden music directory. The same menu allows you to enable Last.fm scrobbling, by the way.
Eenie, Meenie, Mini, Moe
An expanded view of a single track with multiple cuts.
When you search for a song that an artist cut several times, it will only display the most popular version. If your favorite singer recorded several live or recorded mixes of a single track, just click that little circle to the left of the artist’s name in the track's search results. The screen expands to show every version of the same song title that artist offers (or at least the ones offered on Spotify). That way, you can pick which live version of The Toadies’ “Backslider” you want to hear.
Utilities Pump Up The Jams
ShareMyPlaylists.com lets Spotify users rock each others' socks.
There are tons of websites out there that add useful functions to the Spotify experience. Some of our favorites: ShareMyPlaylists.com allows you to share your favorite playlists and listen to the playlists of others (yes, there is a rating function to cut down on the signal-to-noise ratio); SPNotify.com shoots you a notification whenever new music is available from your favorite artists; while Spotibot.com works similarly to Pandora in that you type the name of your favorite bands, then the site creates custom playlists of songs it thinks you’ll like. There are also browser control extensions available for Chrome and Firefox, so you won’t have to hop between the two windows to change tracks.
Seriously, there’s a ton of stuff available. Check out this Lifehacker article for the most comprehensive list of Spotify utilities we could find. So, what helped? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments!