Spotify finally unveils a desktop app miniplayer to end window-juggling, but there's a catch

A woman sitting on a coach and on her laptop, wearing headphones, at night time
(Image credit: Shutterstock/Antonio Guillem)

Spotify Premium users rejoice - the music platform is finally adding a ‘miniplayer’ for its desktop app to improve users’ experience - a whopping three years after the web app got a similar feature.

The new miniplayer has two different designs and can be activated in the bottom right corner of the full-screen player, prompting the app to shrink into a minimized view showing media controls and song information. As I mentioned above, this isn’t the first appearance of a condensed Spotify player, but it’s the first implementation of the feature for the app's desktop version. 

The new miniplayer will be available for Windows, macOS, and ChromeOS, and looks like the miniplayers of other apps (like Apple Music) and users have been requesting this desktop feature for a long time. Some users have been so desperate for it that they’ve made their own, with a multitude of user-created apps currently available on GitHub. 

Before this addition, there was a small preview box with media controls that would appear while Spotify was minimized and users hovered their mouse over it, so combined with the existing web app miniplayer this development hasn’t come totally out of the blue. It makes me wonder why it took so long to bring it to the desktop version, considering it already existed in the web version for years. 

Man at a computer jamming out to music

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov)

The benefits of this feature update are pretty obvious - many people have Spotify running in the background while doing other activities on their PCs. Before this update, you’d have to minimize your present activity (or resize your open windows) and switch to the Spotify tab, even if you wanted to do something simple like skip to the next track or episode or adjust the in-app volume - unless you have dedicated media controls on your keyboard, that is. This was outlined in a community post on Spotify's official website, with the aim being to give users better control of the player without having to interrupt their activities. 

Once users open the Spotify miniplayer, it appears as an “always on top” floating window that stays visible in front of all other opened windows on your desktop, and operates independently of whatever you’re doing in the main Spotify window. The miniplayer will also be able to play any media you can play in the main app, including music, short videos, and podcasts.

The bad news is that the feature is currently only available to Spotify Premium users, so you'll need to shell out for a subscription if you want to use it. It’ll be interesting to see if Spotify makes it available to all users in the future.

A promo shot of Spotify's new DJ feature.

AI DJ was fun, but this is a far more practical feature. (Image credit: Spotify)

To use the feature, open your Spotify desktop app, and start playing some content. Then, click the miniplayer icon: the small white square that’s in a larger white outlined square. This should open the miniplayer, and if you’re unable to see either the icon or your miniplayer doesn’t pop up when you click it, try reinstalling the Spotify app. 

Spotify is just catching up with Apple Music after a decade by giving this feature to desktop users. What makes it a little more puzzling is that there have been Spotify miniplayer features in other versions of the app (such as a Google Maps integration on Android phones) for a while now, so Spotify had already worked it out to some degree at least.

Maybe Spotify thought the demand for a widget-like feature simply wasn’t there, but how many third-party apps there are and how many users have been asking for such a feature paints a confusing picture. In any case, I’m glad it got around to giving users exactly what they’ve been asking for, and hopefully, it carries on putting in features that users explicitly tell Spotify they want to see. Fun novelty features are impressive and entertaining, like AI DJ and Spotify Wrapped, but at the end of the day, users appreciate products that work well. 

Via Digital Music News.

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Computing Writer

Kristina is a UK-based Computing Writer, and is interested in all things computing, software, tech, mathematics and science. Previously, she has written articles about popular culture, economics, and miscellaneous other topics.


She has a personal interest in the history of mathematics, science, and technology; in particular, she closely follows AI and philosophically-motivated discussions.