With more than 40 million listeners, Spotify is the world's most popular music streaming service. And with good cause - its simple interface and vast library make it a compelling choice even in the face of stiff competition from Apple Music and Tidal. But are you getting the most from it?
We've compiled a list of our favourite Spotify features, tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the service, from mastering offline listening to getting the best possible sound quality, sharing your music to filtering your recommendations. Some of these are only for Spotify Premium subscribers, so if you want the full experience, you'll have to cough up the £10 per month…
1. Get the best sound quality
First things first, head to the menu, and you can change the sound quality - choose Normal (96 kbps), High (160 kbps) or Extreme (320 kbps). Admittedly these aren't going to sound quite as sweet as lossless tracks from a service like Tidal, and they will take up more of your data allowance to stream. But that's a small price to pay for better listening.
2. Save music for offline listening
Spotify Premium users can download tracks to listen to offline. Not only does this save you valuable data, it also means you can listen where you don't have mobile reception. Win-win. Save your playlists in the best possible quality, naturally. Hit the three dots then select download on Android, or select the playlist then hit download at the top on Apple.
3. Organise playlists into folders
Tracks go into playlists, and playlists go into folders. The option to create a playlist folder is in the File menu.
4. Transfer your music from other apps
You can transfer your existing playlists on other music services to Spotify. The Soundiiz website is the best way we've seen and supports all the services you'd expect.
5. See your stats
Click on Your Library and then on the profile icon in the top left to see who's following you and who you're following. It will also show your most recently listened to tracks.
6. Sort your now-playing queue
Cue tracks in Spotify by selecting 'add to Up Next' from the three dots next to the track title. On iOS? You can swipe right on a track to add it to your now playing playlist.
7. Search for your favourite tunes
Want to find a track from your own library? Pull down on the screen when you're on the Your Library tab to reveal a search bar at the top, complete with filter options. This searches your own saved tracks rather than the whole of Spotify (which is done via the main Search icon at the bottom).
8. Listen using the web interface
Not allowed to install software on your work computer? No problem. Head to play.spotify.com and you can listen without installing the Spotify desktop app (or relying on your phone). Take that, overzealous IT man.
9. Master keyboard shortcuts
Did you know you can control Spotify using just your keyboard, for the ultimate in efficiency? The Space bar is play/pause, next track is Control-Right (Control-Command-Right on a Mac), back is Control-Left (Control-Command-Left on a Mac), Volume is Control-Up or -Down (Command-Up or -Down on a Mac) and to create a new playlist press Control-N. And that's just scratching the surface. Check out the full list here.
More after the break
Organising your music
10. Build your own library
There are a couple of ways to build your music library. Adding your favourite tracks to playlists is one way, while saving music to your own library is another. Add tracks, albums, artists radio stations, podcasts and playlists by hitting 'save', then access your music via Your Library.
11. Add music that isn't on Spotify
Missing out on those artists that are absent from Spotify? (Like Prince, for example?) Add them yourself. Select Preferences, Add a Source, then select a folder containing your own music files. You can then see them in your Spotify library - they'll be under Local Files in the left pane.
12. Recover a deleted playlist
Spotify's Account website can help restore playlists that you've deleted. Log in, go to Account Settings, and select Recover Playlists. Hey presto.
13. Find clean and explicit versions of songs
If you think a lyric sounds a little out of place, chances are it was swapped in for a more explicit version. Spotify can help you find out. Scroll down and select the pull-down menu on the right-hand side. If it says "1 More Release", it could well be the explicit version.
14. Follow some friends
Is your pal always first with the best new music? You can piggyback off their hard work by following them on Spotify. That way, you'll be able to see what they're listening to, and pass those killer tracks off as your own discoveries. (We suppose they are, in a way.) Select Find Friends to locate them, and instantly expand your listening.
15. Share music with friends using Spotify Codes
Spotify Codes is a new way to share music. Scan a code on your friend's phone to download a tune, or import a code posted by an artist to hear their latest single. You can also scan a code from a poster, flyer or billboard. Tap the '...' context menu next to a song, and you'll see a Spotify Code appears at the bottom of the album artwork. Use the Camera icon to scan it, or tap the Code-enhanced artwork and save it to your Camera Roll for uploading to a social network.
16. Make a collaborative playlist
Maybe you're putting together a set list for a friend's wedding or a party. Start a collaborative playlist and everyone can chuck in their tuppence worth, no matter how misguided. Right click on the left-hand side of any playlist, and it'll give you the option of making it collaborative. Then grant friends access to it, and brace yourself for some terrible choices.
17. Let the Radio option open your ears to similar artists
Stuck for what to listen to? Radio can help. On desktop, select it from the left-hand pane, choose Create a new Station and pick an artist, album or playlist you like. Radio will then serve up a selection of artists/songs similar to your choice, that you'll (hopefully) like. On mobile? Hit the three dots top right when on an artist, album or song and then select Go to Radio.
18. Filter out the chaff
Yes, we want to listen to James Brown. No, we don't want anything from his ’80s phase. Thankfully you can filter out the wilderness years. Type the artist name in the search bar followed by the years that you want to hear with no spaces. For example "James Brown year:1970-77".
19. Sort out your search
Use the word "Not" after your search term to omit artists you don't want, and the + symbol or "And" to include those you do.
20. Listen to Spotify's Weekly Discover Playlist
This is a playlist of 30 tracks that Spotify compiles based on your listening habits. And it tends to be scarily good. It updates every Monday and sits at the top of your Playlists tab.
21. Check out the What Hi-Fi? playlist
And we have to mention our own playlist… Each month, we update our Spotify playlist so you can see what we've been listening to over the past four weeks. It's a great mix of tunes we use to test our review kit, as well as a few personal favourites from the team. You know it makes sense.
Connecting other devices
22. Listen through your home cinema speakers
Using the Google Chromecast streaming dongle, you can play Spotify through the speakers attached to your TV. Just select Chromecast from the Devices Available section of the Spotify app and get playing.
23. Control it with your voice
Good news. The Amazon Echo artificial intelligence-powered speaker plays nice with Spotify. Just connect your Spotify account in the Alexa app, and then start barking commands like "Play me some Bowie!" and the Echo will do as it's told. You'll be grooving to Let's Dance in no time.
24. Send music to your speakers
Premium subscribers can use their phone as a remote control and play music on connected Spotify Connect speakers, such as Sonos. Play a song on your phone and make it fullscreen. Select the speaker icon at the bottom of the screen, then select your speakers. Instant house party.
25. Listen in your Uber
Connect your Spotify account in the Uber app and you can then take control of your car's stereo (assuming your driver has allowed it). They'll love your choice of music, we're sure...
26. Listen with lyrics
Wondering what Michael Jackson is actually banging on about in Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'? Click the lyrics button in the bottom-right, and you can find out.
27. Drag and drop song links anywhere
Drag a song link from your desktop and Spotify will automatically create a link to it. So there's no need to copy and paste it. Neat.
28. Preview music on iOS
Tap and hold the title of a track, album or playlist, and you'll get a preview. On a playlist or album you'll see the first five tracks - slide over each piece of cover art and you can preview each song.
29. Use private listening to hide your guilty pleasures
Not everyone needs to know about your love of Hawkwind. If you want to keep your listening private - click Settings (top right), then Private Session on Android or Settings then Social then Private Session on iOS. That way, friends won't know you've spent all morning blissing out to a six-hour prog session.
30. Make a playlist tailored to your running speed
Spotify can also pick tracks that are close to the same tempo as your running speed. Start running, pick a running playlist from the Browse screen, and Spotify will use your phone's sensors to select songs to suit your stride. See it in action here.
31. Link to a specific part of a track
If there's a great solo you want to alert someone to, you don't have to tell them to skip to 2:53 in the track. Just send them a link and they'll jump right in at the relevant part. On desktop, copy the track's URI (uniform resource identifier) by right-clicking the track and selecting Copy URI. Then paste it into an email or text message, and add #time2:53 to the end. When the respondent clicks it, they'll be transported to exactly the part you were talking about. Magic.
32. Share songs through messaging apps
Heard a song you just have to send to a friend? Tap the three dots, then Share, then Send To and select WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or one of the other options. Done.
33. Find out about live gigs
Spotify can help you see your favourite act in the flesh. To see when an act is playing near you, click Browse, then Concerts to see which acts you've listened to are playing nearby. Going to be out of town? Just change your location to see what's happening where you'll be.
MORE: Spotify review