22 genius ways to fine-tune Spotify

Think you're already the master of the world's most popular streaming service? Think again...

Spotify's musical riches are so vast that it's easy to just swim in the shallows of its desktop and mobile apps.

That's fine, of course, but do this and you'll be missing out on a world of shortcuts, buried treasure and companion apps that can help make it an even more versatile music buddy.

Fancy getting Spotify to beat-match music to your runs? Supply the soundtrack to your PS4 games? Or automatically save your Discover Weekly playlists? Read on to discover how to do all this and more below.

We've started with some beginner tricks, but further on you'll find sections on how to boost your home Spotify setup, ways to make it your running companion, tips for getting Spotify in your car, clever ways to boost its music discovery powers, plus our favourite new Spotify apps and accessories. Let's get fine-tuning...

1) Embrace playlist folders

After a few years of Spotify use, your playlists can become a chaotic mess, with hundreds of them jumbled up in no discernible order. Get them wrangled by dragging them into named folders, which you can create by clicking File > New Playlist Folder in the desktop app. That's better. 

2) Narrow your search

Simply typing an artist name into the search box can deliver too many results to count. But you can focus your search laser by using the term “year:” then entering a range like “1990-1994”. You can also use modifiers like “and”, “or” and “not” for specifics like collaborations.

Who knew that typing 'Jay Z+Chris Martin' and 'R Kelly+Celine Dion' would produce search results? Admittedly they're not good results, but at least you now have the power!

3) Go offline

Streaming can eat through your data, so take advantage of Spotify’s download feature whenever you're on Wi-Fi. In the mobile app, hit the slider next to 'Available Offline' on a track, album or playlist and it’ll save to your phone.

This is a super-handy feature when travelling abroad, but on long trips remember that you'll need to connect your phone to Spotify's servers every 30 days to keep offline mode working.

4) Rescue deleted playlists

If you’ve rashly dumped a beloved playlist, you can retrieve it from the digital recycling bin of doom. Head to your account page in a web browser and click the “Recover playlists” option on the left. Just hit “Restore” on any lists you want back.

5) Up the sound quality

Spotify may never be beloved by the audiophile crowd (Tidal's probably more up their street), but if you’re a Premium user you can actually boost the default streaming bitrate (96-160kbps, depending on your device and connection) to a thoroughly respectable 320kbps.

Yes, you really will hear the difference.

6) Share the costs with your Spotify Family

If you want to cut the costs of Spotify Premium, the service’s Family Plan is the way to go.

For a mere £14.99 a month (only a fiver more than a single Premium account) it gives you up to six separate, unique Premium accounts to distribute among your nearest and dearest. Each account can have its own library, playlists and offline music.

7) Import your music

If you open Preferences in the Spotify desktop app and scroll down to the Local Files section, you can import all your music files from iTunes, folders and various other sources – even if they’re not in Spotify’s own library. A great way to add that 80s Romanian grindcore band to your collection.

8) Soundtrack your PS4 games

Want to replace Bloodborne’s moody orchestral score with Chas & Dave, or explore Fallout 4’s wasteland to the dulcet tones of Megadeth? No problem – just fire up the PS4’s Spotify-compatible PlayStation Music mode and you can soundtrack games with any album or playlist you like, controlling from the console itself or a connected device like your phone or tablet.

9) Peek behind the lyrics

Annoying would-be home karaoke enthusiasts everywhere, Spotify recently removed the real-time lyrics display from its desktop app. Bummer. In its place comes the new Behind The Lyrics feature, created in association with Genius – and while it’s probably not as useful or fun as the old mode, and currently only available on a handful of tracks via the mobile app, it’s still worth a look.

You can access Behind The Lyrics by dragging down on the artwork of supported tracks, whereupon you’ll be treated to a mix of lyrics and real-time annotations. It’s an interesting peek into what’s possible – it just needs to be rolled out to cover much more of Spotify’s library.

10) Spoti-hi-fi

Listening through tinny computer speakers? Tsk. A Chromecast Audio (£30) allows any old hi-fi or set of speakers to be turned into a wireless Spotify streamer, controllable from your phone, tablet or computer. Alternatively, buy a speaker with Spotify Connect, and you’ve got that functionality built right in.

Got a Sonos speaker (or maybe a bunch of them, if you’re lucky) at home? Then you’ll be able to control it direct from any device running the Spotify mobile app – even if you’re not currently on your home Wi-Fi network. And any Spotify app-using visitors can hop on and play their own library without having to download the Sonos app. Spotify is the first music service to get these kind of rich, built-in Sonos controls – look out for them via an October software update.

11) Run to the beat

Got an iPhone and Spotify account – even a free one? Then you’ve also got Spotify Running, which plays songs that match your current jogging tempo.

Available from the app’s Browse screen, Running features several genre playlists as well as “Recommended For You”, which cherry-picks tracks it thinks you’ll like, based on your listening history. It's an awesomely motivating way to keep your pace up over a long run.

12) Track and listen

Want to use Spotify Running, but also want your run tracked? Runkeeper is your training buddy here, recently adding full Spotify integration to its app to let you control playback and quick-switch if you need to change playlists.

The full integration only works on iOS for now, but an Android version is in the works.

13) Speak and sprint

If you’re working out to Spotify and want to change the track, stopping to scour your playlists or enter a search term is a sure-fire way to throw you off pace. Not so with the Apple Watch’s Joy app (download on iTunes) – simply say a track’s name and it’ll play. Your phone stays pocketed.

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14) Amp-up that Uber

Many Uber taxis now come with Spotify integration, meaning you can wrest control of your ride’s tunes from the backseat - and without eating up any of your mobile data.

Just connect your Uber and Spotify accounts to get started – you can do this in the Uber app or on its website.

Download Uber for iOS

Download Uber for Android

15) Perfect automotive integration

If your car stereo is Android Auto or Apple CarPlay compatible, congrats: you’ve got Spotify integration in your motor.

Hook the phone to your stereo via USB and you’ll be able to choose between Spotify Radio, Your Music and new releases by tapping the display – as well as use (limited) voice controls.

16) Making an older car connection

Don’t forget: even older, “dumber” car stereo systems can get in on the Spotify action.

You'll need either a physical 3.5mm auxiliary input, a stereo with Bluetooth support, or an accessory along the lines of Pure's Highway (pictured), which will connect to your stereo even if it doesn't have an aux-in. 

17) Save your mixtapes

The Discover Weekly playlist is among Spotify’s best features, delivering hours of eerily-accurate recommendations every Monday. But after a week, it gets replaced, disappearing forever unless you’ve saved it manually.

Thankfully, there’s a recipe for IFTTT that will do the saving automatically every week – just head here to set it up.

18) Don’t dilly dally, get the Daily Mix

Added to the Android and iOS Spotify apps at the end of September 2016, the Daily Mix playlist works in a similar way to Discover Weekly but (a) it’s updated daily, obviously, and (b) it features songs and artists for which you've already shown a predilection.

Depending on the variety of your genre tastes, you can find more than one playlist appearing per day – find them by tapping the Your Library button on the mobile app.

19) Shazam shortcut

We’ve all used the Shazam or SoundHound apps to identify a mystery song we love, but did you know you can whoosh it straight to a Spotify playlist?

With Shazam, tap the menu icon at the top right of the screen and select “Add to Spotify playlist”; with SoundHound, just hit the “+” icon to do the same.

20) Spotify mixes

There’s no shortage of mobile apps that let you seamlessly mix songs DJ-style, but Pyro is noteworthy because it does all the hard work for you. Its algorithms analyse any track from iTunes or Spotify, working out the BPM and the best time for a smooth crossfaded transition.

Make your own playlists or pick a handful of tracks and let Pyro keep the mix going with its own selections.

Download Pyro

21) Discover samples

Curious about where that familiar-sounding drum loop, reversed vocal or riff comes from in a Spotify (or iTunes) track? WhoSampled is the app (available for both iOS and Android) to swiftly solve that mystery.

It’ll comb through your Spotify playlists, allowing you to click on any track to find out who it samples (and at precisely which points in the track), who sampled it or which artists have covered it. Genius.

Download WhoSampled

22) Get a Spotify iPod

Fancy running to Spotify tunes without carrying your bulky smartphone? Then pre-order this tiny, screenless clip-on player that's very much inspired by the iPod Shuffle.

The Kickstarter-funded Mighty (out November 2016) will offer 2GB of storage for offline syncing, USB-C connector and a five-hour battery life. Naturally, you need to be a Spotify Premium subscriber to use it, but that's a small price to pay for unlimited running tunes.

Pre-order the Mighty (from $79)