20 really useful Spotify tips and tricks

Searching for songs and managing results made easy

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Spotify is the best way to listen to music in the world today. It's easy to use, has a vast catalogue of music from major and independent labels, and you can even take it with you in the car or on the bus by buying a premium subscription and hooking it up to your mobile phone. But if you know all that and want to go a bit further and get the absolute most out of Spotify, here are some power-user tips and tricks that you can use to amp your Spotify experience up to 11.

1. Import your own music

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Spotify's catalogue is big but not perfect. There's no Beatles, AC/DC or Atoms for Peace. To fix that, you can import your own MP3s, play them as if they were streamed, and even add them to your playlists. In Spotify's preferences, hit "Add Source", and select where your music is stored. Imported files can be found under "Local Files" in the left pane.

2. Follow some friends

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If you have a friend that's always finding the best new music first, you might want to keep track of what they're listening to on Spotify. In the left pane, select "Follow" near the top, then "Find Friends" to track them down. Once followed, you'll see what they're listening to in the activity feed on the right.

3. Listen privately

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However, you might not want your friends knowing that you're listening to Justin Bieber's latest album, "Believe". To temporarily hide what you're rocking out to, click your name in the top-right corner of the Spotify window and select "Private Session". It'll last until you close the program and reopen it, or you can disable it manually in the same menu.

4. Collaborate on a playlist

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Music is better with friends. If you're planning a big road trip and you want to put a playlist together, you can collaborate on it with your friends without all needing to crowd around the same computer. After creating a playlist, right-click it and select "Collaborative Playlist". Then send a link to your friends, and they'll be able to add tracks too.

5. Search modifiers

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Search Spotify using modifiers to restrict and refine your results. For example, to search for Madonna's 1983 output you enter "madonna year:1982". You can also search for a range of years, like this: "rolling stones year:1965-1972". Other modifiers include "album", "artist" and "genre". These can be combined, for example: "album:love artist:cult" only finds tracks from The Cult's "Love". Finally, Boolean syntax can be used to exclude keywords, like this: "genre:trip-hop NOT morcheeba".

6. Sync to your phone

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Of course, you won't want to plug your laptop in in the car, and you won't have internet there anyway. If you subscribe to Spotify Premium then you can play your music on your Android, Windows Phone or iOS device. Download the app from the app store, then select which playlists you want to download and sync.

7. Sing along

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Spotify's desktop version has its own apps, too. If you select "App Finder" in the left pane, then find TuneWiki and add it, you'll be able to see lyrics for almost any song, synced to the position you're at in the song – just like karaoke. The lyrics database is crowdsourced, so if your favourite song isn't included, just add it.

8. Track your taste

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Spotify gives you a few statistics on your top artists, but for real data on what you've been listening to you can turn to Last.fm. If you register an account there, then tick the "Scrobble to Last.fm" box under preferences and enter your details, it'll track everything you listen to and give you all the statistics you could possibly desire.

9. Link to part of a track

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As originally cited on the Spotify blog, you can send friends a track URI (uniform resource identifier) with a time index embedded in it. Copy the Spotify URI and paste it into your email or message window, then edit the URI to add '#time' to the end. For example, if the track has a brilliant solo at 1:26, you append #1:26 to the end of the URI. You can also do this with HTTP links, but you'll have to replace the hash tag "#" with "%23".

10. Volume control

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Hold CTRL (CMD on a Mac) and hit the up or down arrow on your keyboard to change Spotify's volume. To mute playback, hit CTRL SHIFT and down – but note that adverts pause when you do that. You'll have to pay for a premium account to be rid of ads.