25 genius ways to fine-tune Spotify

Updated March 2018: 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) DJ for your gaming buddies

Spotify has also teamed up with gaming voice and text chat service Discord, bringing a bunch of music-related features to gamers who connect their accounts.

Once the accounts are paired up, you’ll be able to share what you’re listening to on Spotify with your Discord friends, who’ll be able to play the song on their own device by tapping the button. Even better, they can listen along live, basically transforming you into a gaming DJ (NB: this final feature requires a Spotify Premium account).

10) 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.

11) 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.

12) Speak ‘n Spotify

Got a smart speaker with voice control? Chances are, it’ll work with your Spotify Premium account, letting you request songs, artists, playlists and genres through the happily human medium of spoken word.

The Amazon Echo family, Sonos One, KitSound Voice One, Sony LF-S50G, Harman Kardon Invoke and Eufy Genie are all compatible with Spotify Premium, while the Google Home goes one step further, working with Spotify Free too.

The Apple HomePod, sadly, does not support full Spotify voice control but, when streaming from your phone or computer as an AirPlay speaker, it will respond to basic commands like pause, play and skip.

13) Run to the beat

Sadly Spotify Running, a built-in Premium feature that played tunes to match your current jogging tempo, has been retired from the mobile app. With no explanation and no warning, Spotify's decision upset a lot of runners, but there remain some ways to get appropriate audio accompaniment to your daily jog.

Tap the "Workout" on the app's Browse screen under Genres & Moods and you'll be presented with some pre-made playlists built around specific BPMs. It's nowhere near as easy to use as the old feature, as you'll have to work out how your running pace translates to a BPM yourself, but it's better than nothing.