I usually work in coffee shops around the five boroughs and there’s often great music playing. Is there some way I can discretely identify the songs with an app on my MacBook Air?
Fifteen years ago I would have just said you needed to know a lot about music to be able to identify what was playing at a bar, restaurant or coffee shop. Then a mobile phone app called Shazam came on the scene in 1999 and let you identify anything your phone could sample by sending the audio snippet to their servers for analysis. Magic. Fantastic. In fact, even way back in October 2014, Shazam announced its technology has been used to identify 15 billion songs. By now, maybe 50 billion? More?
Heck, the new Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have a built-in Shazam-like service that lets you identify songs without leaving your lock screen, and all without sending any data up to a central server. More magic, for sure. (curious? I have an article about Now Playing on the Pixel 3 you can check out).
What the vast majority of folk don’t realize is that Shazam is also a Mac app you can grab from the App Store and it works beautifully on your Mac system. Start by grabbing a copy here: Shazam for Mac [App store link]. Want it for your Windows computer? It’s not available because similar functionality is baked into Cortana. Sorry Windows folk.
Once you have the Shazam app for your Mac, launch it and an icon shows up on your menu bar. Then it immediately wants to gain permission to use your microphone:
Obviously you’ll want to grant permission to the program or it won’t be very useful or interesting. Click “OK”.
It then starts listening to try and identify the current song:
It’s not blindingly fast on identifying a song and can take as long as 20-30 seconds before it figures out what it’s hearing. When it does, you’ll get a little notification on your screen for a few seconds:
Then in the little pop-up window it’ll show up on the list too:
Where this gets really interesting, however, is when you do what is suggested above and double click to enable Auto Shazam. Once that’s turned on, the program will listen to your music non-stop and not only keep identifying what it hears, but create a listen list. Some while later here’s what I have on the list from an IHeartRadio 80’s playlist:
Combined, this is remarkably cool functionality and even if you just enable and forget about it you can always go back to the history list and scroll through to identify all those cool hipster songs you hear in those trendy Brooklyn cafés! Definitely a great addition to your Mac and the fact that Shazam is free? A crazy good deal.
Pro Tip: Big Mac fan? I have hundreds of Mac tips and help articles here on the site. Please do check ’em out while you’re here!