Spotify Not Working With Keyboard Controls? (3 Known Issues)

Spotify is a streaming service that can be played through a variety of devices with a lot of freedom for users to adjust settings to their liking.

Many people like to use a keyboard to control Spotify. However, there have been numerous complaints by Spotify users of issues with this.

This article examines some of the commonly known issues and also offers some troubleshooting tips that you can try.

Laptop open with Spotify desktop app showing on the screen

1. Media Keys Not Functioning

A lot of keyboards have a Play/Pause key and additional media keys such as ‘Stop’, ‘Next Track’, and ‘Previous Track.’

These keys are designed to control YouTube, Spotify, and the like over browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge.

These useful functions allow users to navigate easily between tracks and other content. Unfortunately, some Spotify users have reported that their media keys are not working.

Thankfully, there are some troubleshooting tips that you can follow to fix the problem.

You need to run a clean reinstall of Spotify. This is generally an overlooked fix. However, it’s more thorough than a quick reinstall and can assist in clearing any problematic cache.

Here’s how to run a regular and clean reinstall of Spotify on Mac:

Quick Reinstall

  1. Access ‘Finder’
  2. Locate ‘Applications’ from the sidebar menu.
  3. Select ‘Spotify’ and drag it to ‘Trash’.
  4. Now, ‘Empty Trash’ to get rid of the app.
  5. Download and reinstall the app

Clean Reinstall

If the issue persists after conducting a quick reinstall, follow these steps:

  1. Exit ‘Spotify’
  2. Access ‘Finder’
  3. Choose ‘Go’ from the menu at the top, then press the ‘Option / Alt key’ and click ‘Library’
  4. Launch ‘Caches’ and delete the com.spotify.client and com.spotify.client.helper files.
  5. Press the back arrow.
  6. Access ‘Application Support’ the delete your Spotify folder.
  7. Restart your Mac.
  8. Download and reinstall the app.

Here’s how to run a regular and clean reinstall of Spotify on Windows:

Quick Reinstall on Windows 10 and Later Versions

  1. Exit ‘Spotify’
  2. Launch the Start menu and select ‘Settings’
  3. From the sidebar, choose ‘Apps’
  4. Select ‘Apps & Features’
  5. Choose ‘Spotify’ from a list.
  6. Hit ‘Uninstall’
  7. Follow the steps seen on the screen.
  8. Download and reinstall the app.

Quick Reinstall on Windows 7 or 8

  1. Exit ‘Spotify’
  2. Navigate to the ‘Control Panel’
  3. Select ‘Uninstall a program’
  4. Choose Spotify from the list and press ‘uninstall’
  5. Go through the instructions visible on the screen.
  6. Download and reinstall the app.

If the above method proved unsuccessful, follow the method below:

Clean Reinstall on Windows PCs

  1. Exit ‘Spotify’
  2. Go to ‘Settings’ via the Start menu.
  3. Access the Control Panel.
  4. Choose ‘Uninstall a program’
  5. Click ‘Spotify’ from the list and select ‘Uninstall’
  6. Follow the steps seen on the screen.
  7. From the ‘Start’ search bar, enter %AppData% . This will bring up AppData\Roaming. Delete all Spotify folders.
  8. Access AppData\Local, or C:\Users\*USERNAME*\AppData\Local and delete all Spotify folders.
  9. Restart your computer.
  10. Download and reinstall the app.

If you still have no luck, you must delete the host files on your computer.

Here’s how to delete the host files:

  1. Access ‘Notepad’ as an administrator by right-clicking then click ‘Open as Administrator’
  2. Select ‘File’ – access and go to C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc
  3. Select ‘All Files’ and not ‘Text Documents’ alongside the File Name box. You will find some files. Choose ‘Hosts’ and select ‘Open’
  4. You will find text with # at the start of each line and the entries might appear like, or
  5. Look for any entries that mention ‘Spotify’ or ‘Fastly’ such as:
  6. If you find entries like the ones above, delete those lines. You can enter a # at the start of the line, which means ‘commenting out’.
  7. Save the changes. Restart the Spotify app.

Here’s how to disable Desktop Overlay:

Media keys not functioning could be a result of the Desktop Overlay option on the Spotify app. To fix it, you must disable the overlay setting.

  1. Access the Spotify application and select ‘Options’ or ‘Settings.
  2. Find the ‘Display Options’ section and switch off the slider alongside the ‘Show desktop overlay’ whilst using the media keys.

2. Certain Keyboard Shortcuts Aren’t Functioning

Keyboard shortcuts are designed to make navigating between tracks and performing a host of other functions easier for users.

Here’s how to find the shortcuts:

  1. Access Spotify on the desktop app or the web player on your PC.
  2. Simultaneously click any of the below combinations on your keyboard:
    • Mac: ‘Command’ and ‘Backslash’; ‘Command’ and ‘Question Mark’; ‘Shift’ and ‘Backslash’; or ‘Shift’ and ‘Question Mark’
    • Windows: ‘Control’ and ‘Backslash’; ‘Control’ and ‘Question Mark’; ‘Shift’ and ‘Backslash’; or ‘Shift’ and ‘Question Mark’.

You should then be shown a range of keyboard shortcuts that you can use.

If you are experiencing any problems with the keyboard shortcuts, you can try the below:

  • Clean reinstall (see above)
  • Look at the host’s file for any entries that should be cleared (steps available above as well).
  • Update to the latest version of the Spotify App.

Failing to do the above could lead to corrupt files affecting your PC.

Please also read our article with solutions to common issues with Spotify’s “back” button.

3. External Keyboard Not Working on Spotify

Some users have reported that an external keyboard does not work on their TV when they are using Spotify.

This can be a frustrating problem, but there are some things that you can try.

It could be that an upgrade has led to some app file damage. This can generally be solved by deleting the cache and the Spotify app from the TV and then reinstalling it.

Make sure you unplug the device for a short while prior to reinstalling the app—this is an easy yet commonly overlooked step.

General Pros and Cons of using a keyboard to control Spotify functions


Spotify can be used on many devices. Some people prefer to use computers or the TV to plug into the music app.

If that is you, you have probably become accustomed to using a keyboard to control Spotify.

Many users have even become pros at using keyboard shortcuts to pause, play or navigate to the next or previous tracks, etc.


  • Sometimes the Media Keys don’t work with Spotify.
  • Certain Spotify keyboard shortcuts might not work.
  • An external keyboard might not be compatible with the Spotify TV app.

Final Thoughts

Spotify’s keyboard functions are an excellent option for users who prefer keys over a touch screen. With media keys and keyboard shortcuts, using Spotify becomes even simpler.

If you are experiencing any problems with keyboard controls, you can try the above solutions.


Reinstall Spotify 
Keyboard shortcuts

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