I have – almost by accident – become a Spotify power user. I have the Spotify app installed on my Mac, but I don’t use it all that much. Instead, I use a series of third-party apps and devices to control my music playback, which are much more convenient and powerful than using the Spotify app itself.
Here, then, is what makes up my ultimate Spotify setup. You don’t have to use all three components, each works brilliantly on its own.
MiniPlay for Spotify & iTunes
The first app is a freebie: MiniPlay for Spotify & iTunes, which you can download from the Mac App Store by clicking the link.
Spotify doesn’t have a mini-player view. So, if you’re listening to one of Spotify’s auto-generated playlists and a song comes on that you like, but don’t know, you have to open the app to find out what it is.
MiniPlay puts a discreet, tiny app window on your desktop that reveals the name and artists of the currently playing song, plus basic play and skip controls. It’s a cracking little app that is almost permanently open on my desktop.
Alfred (with Spotify workflow)
Alfred is a well-known Mac app that could be described as Spotlight search on steroids. It’s a fabulously powerful app, especially when you buy the Powerpack for $42 (£34).
You’ll need the Powerpack to install the free Spotify Mini-Player workflow for Alfred. Warning: this requires a bit of geekery. You’ll need to be comfortable with entering Terminal commands to get this thing working, but there is a step-by-step installation guide on the link above.
Once installed, you can fire up the Alfred Spotify Mini-Player with a keyboard combo (mine is Ctrl + Command + S) and you’ve got a hugely convenient way to search for songs, albums and playlists without having to open Spotify itself, helping you to keep screen focus on what you’re doing.
As you can see from the screenshot above, everything can be done with keyboard shortcuts, so you can quickly change song, album or playlist without having to take your fingers off the keyboard.
There are tons of power features in the Alfred Spotify Mini-Player too. You can add songs to playlists directly from the Mini-Player, you can follow/unfollow artists, you can kickstart Spotify Radio playlists for particular artists, and you can easily access all your saved tracks, albums and playlists from the interface, complete with artwork.
Alfred has a million and one other uses, but the Spotify Mini-Player is right up there with my top reasons to install it.
Stream Deck with Spotify plugin
The Elgato Stream Deck is one of my favorite pieces of kit. It’s a dashboard of tactile, customizable buttons that can be used to control pretty much any app on your Mac (or Windows PC for that matter).
The Stream Deck has a Spotify plugin that provides a range of controls without you having to program them manually. They are fairly basic controls: play/pause/back/forward/toggle shuffle plus basic volume controls. However, they can still come in very handy when you’ve got a full-screen app open on your Mac (such as a game) and you want to control the music playing in the background.
The play/pause button on the Stream Deck changes with a thumbnail showing the album cover of the track that’s currently playing, which is a nice touch.
It’s possible to add further custom controls, too. For example, I have a shortcut that opens the MiniPlay app mentioned at the top, as well as shortcut links to some of my favorite playlists, including the Spotify Daily Mixes.