How to enable Spotify accessibility on Mac

Important

This guide has been archived, as it is likely to be out of date for most users and use cases.
App Developer

Hello,

It is about Spotify desktop application on Mac and the steps to make it accessible.

My spotify version is 1.0.6.80 but any version later than 0.9.4 (released in September, 2013) would be fine.

There are two steps to make it happen.

Step 1: Open Terminal.app
Step 2: Type the following line and hit enter:
/Applications/Spotify.app/Contents/MacOS/Spotify --force-renderer-accessibility&

That's it. If Spotify doesn't launch, please check the path where Spotify is installed.

The contents are basically HTML. The layout is complex but if you already have used the Web version, it may be not so difficult to move around.

Here are some tips when searching:

-Hotkey "Command + L" to jump to the search box. After the search, hit Tab once to jump to the main content where the search results are shown. If you hit Tab twice, you can jump to the player controls.

-Some tables are not interactive with "VO + Shift + down" but you can move around inside the table by using Tab or Up/Down arrow keys.

-Current song title and artist name are shown in the title bar.

Lastly, I know that Spotify is not the only option. There are Deezer, Rdio and Apple music that is coming soon. But it is always good to have more options, isn't it? I hope that you find this information useful.

P.S.
If you find it a bit annoying to launch it from Terminal.app, you can download the launching application from here:
http://www.singer-song-reader.com/VoSpotify.app.zip
I made it using Automator.app. It is basically a shell script to launch Spotify with the option mentioned above.
It just contains the following one line code:
open -a /Applications/Spotify.app/Contents/MacOS/Spotify --args --force-renderer-accessibility

Thanks.

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52 Comments

#1 Absolutely awesome

Thank you very much for this tip. Do you know if it is possible to edit playlists within the Mac app? I mean using VoiceOver, of course. I tried editing them using the iPhone app but the focus jumps a lot.

Thanks again

#2 Kenya,

Kenya,

Thanks for this trick. Although I'm not a spotify user and don't like web views that much, I'm gonna try this.

As I'm reading your post, I'm definitely impressed by the way you've so quickly committed yourself to accessibility, first by making your best to get your app fully accessible but also by the way your explaining things from a VoiceOver perspective, as if you've done so for years. Total Respect.

#3 Thank you!

I'm Quite baffled that Spotify support didn't point me to this flag when I asked about accessibility on OS X. Thanks a lot!

#4 Awsome

About to try this but just wanted to thank you. Awesome stuff!!!

#5 Difficulty in editing playlist

App Developer

It is not impossible but I find it very difficult. Maybe because I am not so used to VO commands yet.

Deleting item is relatively easy. Move VO cursor onto the song title you want to delete. Press "VO + space" to move the mouse to VO cursor, then press Delete key. There is no audio feedback but it works.

Moving item is harder. It needs drag and drop. Move VO cursor onto the song title you want to move. Press "VO + space" to move the mouse to VO cursor, then press "VO + Shift + Command + space" to mouse down. Now, move VO cursor to the destination. Again here, it is best to move VO cursor onto the song title. Press "VO + space" to move the mouse to VO cursor, then press "VO + Shift + Command + space" again to mouse up. The moving is done and you can use Up/Down arrow keys to check the track order.

Sometimes VO cursor moves in a strange way like skipping tracks and I don't know why.

(Update on Jun/17)
On my old 2009 macbook, roughly 8 seconds after moving items, VO cursor is forced to move to the first row in the playlist table, probably due to some page refreshing. It requires lots of patience. What do you think about it? Do you call it accessible?

Maybe you can find a better and easier way to do it.

#6 Sof

App Developer

Music players got so complicated these days and I barely keep up with it:) Spotify is no exception. Super confusing yet so much hidden underneath. I don't know its full capability yet.

As a developer, I felt like being hit by a sledgehammer when I got an accessibility improvement request for the first time. It was from you and a great one, clearly stating the issue in a polite and respectful way.

Thanks, Sof.

#7 Thanks and a request

Hi Kenya, thanks a lot for your article! I didn't know about that, and from when I knew this possibility I use Spotify a lot! I have a question. In my Mac, when I want to run Spotify in accessible mode I have Always to use terminal. Which is the best way to save a file that opens the terminal and do the works for me? I've tried to save a file in apple script, but if you know an easier way tell me. And it's a Pity that Spotify doesn't allow to set an option to run the app by default in accessible view.

#8 Actually you mean vo shift

Actually you mean vo shift space to simulate a mouse click not vo space. vo cmd cmd shift space will lock the curser. I don't often use this method for drag drop as it can be unreliable.

Thanks for finding this shortcut and I am very surprised spotify did not even talk about this in their blog or website or support page.

Take care.

#9 Script to launch Spotify

App Developer

Hi Ambro and everyone,

The easiest way to launch Spotify with the accessibility flag would be Automator script. You can download it from the link located at the bottom of the article. If you want to make it yourself, the code is:

open -a /Applications/Spotify.app/Contents/MacOS/Spotify --args --force-renderer-accessibility

That is all. Just one line.

In case you are familiar with AppleScript, the source code would look like:

do shell script "/Applications/Spotify.app/Contents/MacOS/Spotify --force-renderer-accessibility > /dev/null 2>&1 &"

Again, it is just one line.

As far as I know, there is no permanent flag settings, so using some script is the only way to do it.

#10 Spotify customer service and the flag

App Developer

Hi Malthe, KE7ZUM and everyone,

It is about why the hxxk Spotify customer service did not tell about this flag in spite of so many accessibility questions and requests.

The point is that the flag does not actually belong to Spotify but to Chrome-like web browser embedded in Spotify application. The name is Chromium and its project page has documents about the flag. There are 1094 flags in total. There are more than 1000 pages of documentation and the flag in question is mentioned only in a few pages.

It is possible that the customer service division doesn't have any info abut Chromium.

Or they think it is not good enough to call it "accessible" - just usable.

Anyway, it is still a mystery.

The accessibility flag is mentioned in the following page:
https://www.chromium.org/developers/design-documents/accessibility

#11 "VO space" to calibrate the mouse pointer position

App Developer

Hi KE7ZUM,

Usually the mouse pointer follows VO cursor, right? But for some UI elements in HTML contents, the mouse cursor is positioned in a wrong place: close to VO cursor but not close enough to perform actions. The song titles in playlists are one of those weird elements. In this case, "VO + space" is needed to re-locate the mouse pointer right above VO cursor as calibration purpose. ("VO + command + F5" doesn't work for the case like this)

Again, editing playlists is not impossible but very difficult. Maybe I should call it impossible for the things like that.

Anyway, thanks a lot for your comment, KE7ZUM.

#12 Apple Script

I saved is as a script and asigned a VoiceOver command. Now when I press right option plus z spotify opens :)

#13 That's interesting. Can you

That's interesting. Can you maybe email spotify accessibility and suggest that this be atken care of now that we have sort of a work around for accessibility? If you did or someone did email spotify asking about this have they responded?

#14 Got another question.

Got another question.

When I search for an artist and scroll through the albums I can only see three or four. Is there a way to show the full list of albums? I love the save button to add the full album to your music.

#15 accessing playlists?

This is a very nice plus to a very unaccessable application on the mac. thank you very much for the information.
Has anyone found a way to access the playsists?
I see a playlists heading, but I can't find a way to access a list. the playlist frame doesn't update when I VO space on a playlist name. even tried blicking on it using the mouse click with vO-shift-space.
Ideas?

#16 SEE ALL - Showing all the search results

App Developer

Good morning, Raul,

To show all the search results, click on "SEE ALL" label in the following way.

Move VO cursor onto "SEE ALL". Press VO+space. Then, VO+Shift+space.

Note: VO+space is a mouse pointer position adjustment.

The same way applies to the other labels such as Artists, Albums, Playlists, etc, because VoiceOver cannot recognize them as button or link.

#17 question

hi all.

To start off with this is amazing that the spotify app can be used on mac.

I have a question though:
does anyone know if a track can be skipped through for example fast forwarding or rewinding the track?
This can be done on IOS and I was wondering if it can be done on mac as well.

Thanks for your help. :)

#18 Hi bryan,

App Developer

- Next Track: Command+Right
- Previous Track: Command+Left
- Forwarding: Command+Shift+Right
- Rewinding: Command+Shift+Left

More things can be done with shortcut keys (Playback menu).

Thanks for your comment.

#19 Accessing Playlists

App Developer

Hi Edward,

I also got confused when I first tried to access one of the Playlists. It requires an unusual way to simulate a mouse click. On the playlist name in the Playlists heading, first use VO+space, and then mouse click with VO+shift+space. The playlist will be shown in the main contents frame. This unusual mouse click trick can be also used for other elements. You can identify those elements when VoiceOver doesn't say "Link" or "Button". I wonder if this issue is Spotify contents-specific or it is a common issue for any other HTML contents.

#20 Forwarding and rewinding

Hi Kenya, thanks for your hints. The other commands you have listed work perfectly, except the forwarding and rewinding. If I play a song, and press command shift right Arrow, the song doesn't go forward. This command is specific only of the off line mode?
Thanks
Ambro

#21 Forwarding and rewinding

App Developer

Hi Ambro,

I am not sure but it could be a version specific issue. Maybe updating to the latest version would help?

In my case, I am a free member and not using off-line mode. Spotify version 1.0.7.157. Mavericks on Macbook.

Does anyone have the same issue?

#22 It can be a problem regard the language used?

Hello Kenya, thanks for the reply. I've checked the version and is the same that you have. I use an Imac with Mavericks. The problem can be relative of the Language used? I'm using the Imac with the italian Language.
Thanks,
Ambro

#23 Now works

Hi, now the forwarding and rewinding works, I've shutdown and launch voiceover, pressing various Keys, and now works correctly. I don't know how I resolved it.

#24 Computer is a mysterious thing

App Developer

Ambro, Glad to hear that :)

#25 Adding songs to a playlist

Club AppleVis Member

Hi Kenya,
how great to use a more VO friendly version of the Spotify App on the Mac. Might be even more interesting to Spotify to support all of their customers facing the comming up Apple Music service. What I like better about Spotify is the fact they are available on Sonos.
Is there a way to add albums or songs to a playlist? That's one thing I couldn't figure out myself.
Thanks and all the best
Jürgen

#26 How to add songs to a playlist

App Developer

Hi Jurgen, it is very tricky but possible. Below, the first part is to make VoiceOver to recognize the context menu. In the second part, you can choose a playlist and add songs to it.

The first part:

1. Move VO cursor onto the song title, for example, in the track list in the main contents frame.
2. Open context menu with VO+Shift+M (No audio feedback)
3. Press Down arrow 4 times, then Right arrow once. (Here, VoiceOver says "edit text blank")

Now VoiceOver can read every single item in the context menu.

The second part:

5. Choose a playlist with VO+Right
6. Adjust the mouse pointer position by pressing VO+Space once, then simulate mouse click with VO+Shift+Space. VoiceOver reads out the song title. That indicates the song is successfully added to the playlist.

That is all. Very complicated but that is the only way I could figure out. You don't really want to do it unless you really need to.

The same steps can be used to add albums to a playlist. The only difference is that VO cursor needs to be on the album title instead of the song title (Step 1).

Hope it helps.

[Edited on Jun/21] Step 4 was deleted. It was not necessary.

#27 [Edited] How to add songs to a playlist

App Developer

The step 4 was not necessary. I deleted it from the article.

#28 Absolutely brilliant

This terminal hack is absolutely great. I sorted out a keyboard maestro hotkey to do the Spotify launch in accessibility mode. I've also added in a keyboard maestro hotkey to the command Q keystroke when in spotify so that it closes spotify and the terminal as well, just because I got sick of having to constantly close the terminal after Spotify quits.

#29 Re: Absolutely brilliant

James Jolley,

It is much easier than that, you can set a hot key to just open spotify with accessibility without needing to close the terminal after.

  • Open Apple Script Editor which is in your applications/Utilities folder and paste the following line in the field called source.

    do shell script "/Applications/Spotify.app/Contents/MacOS/Spotify --force-renderer-accessibility > /dev/null 2>&1 &"

  • After that press compile button in the toolbar.

  • check that the script works by pressing execute, also from the toolbar.
  • If Spotify opens, press command S to save the script and place it wherever you like.

Now open VoiceOver utility from the same Utilities folder.

  • Arrow down until the Commands Option, and then choose the Keyboard tab.
  • Activate the Keyboard command chekbox if necessary, and press the Add button to assign a new command.
  • Type the letter you want to pres, I chose Z for example.
  • Pres VO + right and VO + Space to choose the action you want to assign to that command.
    • Arrow down until custom commands and then right to open the submenu, and choose execute apple script.
    • Finally choose your recently created apple script and close VoiceOver Utility.
  • Now you only have to press right option plus the key you assigned and Spotify will open.

Note: This will only work with VoiceOver enabled. The command will also bring Spotify to the front if minimized.

#30 Thanks for the improved shell

Thanks for the improved shell script, i've adopted it on the keyboard maestro hotkey. I prefer that because the scripts and macros are kept updated on dropbox so I don't lose anything. I'd forgotten that there is a flag to disable the terminal window like that. Either way, thanks again.

#31 Can't get the grip on the layout

Hi! I really don't know what's happening here, usually I'm quite fast at understanding new layots, but this one makes me feel real slow... :)
How do you e.g. get to the search results? I hit Cmd+L to go to the search field, type in something, and then hit tab. That lands me on a link called "skip to main content". If I hit VO+Space on it, it seems to me like nothing happens...
I mean, this is most likely an awesome solution to the totally inaccessible standard spotify app, once you get the hang of it. It's just that I can't get my head to figure out such an easy thing as how to play a song... Lol
Any help?

#32 Going down to search results

App Developer

Hi Cliff, When you are on the link "skip to main content" and hit VO+Space, do you hear VoiceOver say "Search main"? If yes, you are in the right place. Press VO+Shift+Down to interact with the frame. There, you will find the search results.

The layout is confusing and not VO-friendly. I don't quite recommend to use it but its massive music selection is compelling.

I hope my answer helps.

#33 Spotify UI

App Developer

I found the UI to be quite clean and completely usable without much problem. The key to most of these problems is to put Spotify into full screen mode. After that, the typical route mouse to VO cursor with VO+Command+F5 works every time. There are some unlabeled buttons, but they seem irrelevant because most playback such as repeat, shuffle, and play/pause can be done with the playback menu. SPACE plays/pauses a track, COMMAND+S shuffles a playlist, COMMAND+R repeats a track, COMMAND+LEFT/RIGHT goes from track to track in the list, COMMAND+UP/DOWN changes the volume, COMMAND+SHIFT+LEFT/RIGHT skipps through the track, and COMMAND+Q quits Spotify. It seems that other than a few minor workarounds, whatever VO uses in Safari for web navigation works in Spotify. I was able to do the following:

• find a track in search results and add it to a playlist.
• Create a playlist.
• Remove a playlist.
• Remove tracks from a playlist.
• Shuffle and repeat songs.
• Find friends on Spotify.
• Remove playlists when no longer needed.
• Save tracks to my favorites.
• Follow a playlist created by someone else.
• See the elapsed/remaining time on a track.
• Change settings.
• Use the queue.

#34 Wow

App Developer

Hi Andy, It is good to know that the key is "full screen mode". I didn't know that. I am still a baby when it comes to VoiceOver, lol.

#35 Thanks for the tips

Thanks a lot for the tips! :)
I'll have to try this when I'm in front of my Mac again! And perhaps fullscreen-mode also will make the layout more understandable...
I really hope I can get this to work, cause right now the iPhone spotify app is the only accessible solution for me. So I will have to airplay from my iPhone over to my Mac when I want to listen to spotify on my studio-monitors. So this will definetely make my life a lot easier! :)
Thanks again!

#36 Nope, didn't work

Hi again! I tried hitting VO+Space on the link that says "skip to main content", but nothing happens. VO just says "press Skip to main content". I also tried VO+shift+Space, but with no luck.
But I'm running this on Yosemite and not on Mavericks, which I think I saw you mentioning that you ran this app on. Might that be the problem?
Thanks for any help :)

#37 Difference between Yosemite and Mavericks

App Developer

Hi Cliff, you are right. I switched from Mavericks to Yosemite and noticed that my approach did not work on Yosemite. On Yosemite, after hitting VO+Space and VO says "press skip to main content", VO+Left once and VO+Right once, here VO says "Search, frame". Now VO+Shift+Down works to enter the search results.

Sometimes VO+Left once is enough but at other times VO+Right is needed after that in order to get to "Search, frame".

Hmm, it seems a weird way. Does anyone know a better way?

#38 Spotify Keyboard Navigation

Hi Everyone, It seems the key to navigating the Spotify app is via frames. If you press command+L to get to the search field, (it's best to navigate the page with quick nav off), make sure to press command+A to select all and delete it, just in case there was text in the field you weren't aware of. Put in your search term and press enter. Now, to get to the search results, press control+option+command+F. (VO+F). this will move you forward to the next frame. Interact with the frame, it will say "search frame" and vo+right arrow to the artists, or albums you wish to see. there's, at first, an unlabeled link, then the name of the artist/album/song, then, depending on what you're looking for, the name of the artist. for example, if you're looking for a song, you'll see the song title as a link, and then if you vo+right arrow again, you'll see the name of the artist/band. If you want to play said song, vo+space on the link, then navigate to the next frame, (VO+Command+F), and it will get you to the specifics. Interact with this, and navigate to the "play" button. At this point, you can (if you wish), turn on quick navigation by pressing left/right arrows at the same time, and press "b" to get to the "play" button. You can also tab a few times and you will be presented with a table of songs, either from an album you're listening to, or various songs with the same title by an artist, depending on your search. I've created a short audio demo of Spotify searching, perhaps it will help: https://audioboom.com/boos/3300081-spotify-accessibility-on-the-mac HTH! Rachel.

#39 Thanks Rachel

App Developer

Hi Rachel, you are amazing and definitely talented in making audio demo. Now I know much better about how to move around webpages with VoiceOver. Thank you so much:)

#40 Thumbs up or down

When in Radio mode you can like or dislike songs to tailor your radio playlist. Is there a way to thumb up or down a song with VoiceOver? Maybe a shortcut key?

#41 Re: Thumbs up or down

App Developer

Hi Raul, it would be easier to find them with Quick Nav on. In the Radio frame, When pressing "b", first comes "NEW STATION" button, then "Thumbs down", and then "Thumbs up". The both buttons have no audio feedback. Hope it helps.

#42 downloading tracks for offline playback

Hello,
Is it possible to download tracks for offline playback using VoiceOver, and or changing the streaming/downloading quality for tracks on OS X, similar to how the process works on iOS?
Thanks

#43 I have another question. How

I have another question. How do I start a radio from a selected artist or song? I know how to access radio stations i've already listened to, but no idea on how to start a new one using Spotify for the Mac.

#44 Reply to myself and Santiago

I found out that when you press shift+VO+m the contextual menu appears at the very end of the screen, after the player controls frame. So you only have to press VO shift M on an artist, song or playlist, and navigate to the end of the page to find the menu. Just simulate a mouse click on the option you prefer, including start radio or make offline.

To change streaming quality simply locate and press the menu button, find and click on settings and go to the main frame. There you should find the streaming quality check box. Obviously you need to be premium member. I think pressing CMD plus coma also opens the settings frame

#45 spotify in background

Hi, I am new to the mack, so may be it is a problem due to the fact that i do not understand the mac and voiceover well... I'm comming from Windows.
I've tried to use spotify with the file downloaded from this tread, but I can't launch spotify... voiceover toldme that the application is corrupt. So, I did the script my self, and sabed it as a App. Now I can launch spotify with the accessibility mode enabled, I can read the screen and interact with the HTML content... but I tink that it is in the background, it's onli the voiceover cursor in the spotify Window... and it's strange, 'cause I have the voicever cursor controlling the keyboard cursor enabled, with VO Shift f3...
To verifi what Window is in the foreground, I whent to the menú bar, and found that the menus where thous of the finder... not spotify... and then I cannot see the spotify window anymore. ¿what am I doing wrond? Please, Please help me... I liked the mac experience a lot, but spotify is one of the most important apps for me, and I dont want to install Windows in a virtual machine onli for using blindspot for spotify...
Thanks!
PD. Sorry for my bad english, I'm from Chile... and I don't have the oportunity to practise. But Here i am!.
Tanks!.

#46 Spotify in the background

App Developer

Press command+tab to cycle between your apps. Once VoiceOver announces "spotify," stop cycling between your apps. Command+tab works like alt+tab in Windows. Command is just to the left and right of the spacebar.

#47 Hi.

Hi.
Command + tab does not work, it's the firsth thin that I did... I can't find spotify. but it's runing in the actibiti monitor...
Help! Thanks!.

#48 cant access playlists

Hi,
I finally can use spotify, i don't know how i resolved the isue with the background but to day I tried and it worked.
But, now I have a problem... I've tried to listen a playlist that I got in the "mi music" section, I pressed Vo space in the title of the playlist, and then VO shift space... and I when to the main section but the only thin thant I see is the brouse section. I have spotify in full screen mode... ¿what i'm doing wrond?
Thanks!.

#49 There is one flaw

Hey, I am doing this but there is one flaw and this has nothing to do with the interface. I created an alias which helps. Check boxes are not able to be clicked in spotify and the website is so crowded that getting anything done is a chore. I contacted @spotifycaes I think I got that right, and they want to keep sending me to apple care and apple support. I can't really get it through their heads that this is ***an accessibility issue with their app*** I'm about to pull out my hair here.

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