#spotify #ncurses #librespot #terminal

app ncspot

ncurses Spotify client written in Rust using librespot, inspired by ncmpc and the likes

34 releases

Uses new Rust 2021

0.10.0 Jun 10, 2022
0.9.7 Mar 23, 2022
0.9.3 Dec 10, 2021
0.9.2 Nov 30, 2021
0.0.0 Mar 4, 2019

#3 in Audio

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10K SLoC



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ncspot ncspot

ncspot is a ncurses Spotify client written in Rust using librespot. It is heavily inspired by ncurses MPD clients, such as ncmpc. My motivation was to provide a simple and resource friendly alternative to the official client as well as to support platforms that currently don't have a Spotify client, such as the *BSDs.


Table of Contents

Resource Footprint Comparison

Measured using ps_mem on Linux during playback:

Client Private Memory Shared Memory Total
ncspot 22.1 MiB 24.1 MiB 46.2 MiB
Spotify 407.3 MiB 592.7 MiB 1000.0 MiB


On macOS

ncspot is available via Homebrew:

brew install ncspot

On Windows

ncspot is available via Scoop:

scoop install ncspot

On Linux


  • Rust
  • Python 3 (needed for building rust-xcb dependency)
  • libpulse-dev (or portaudio-dev, if you want to use the PortAudio backend)
  • libncurses-dev and libssl-dev
  • libdbus-1-dev
  • libxcb + development headers (for clipboard access)
  • pkg-config
  • A Spotify premium account

On Debian based systems you need following packages for development headers:

sudo apt install libncursesw5-dev libdbus-1-dev libpulse-dev libssl-dev libxcb1-dev libxcb-render0-dev libxcb-shape0-dev libxcb-xfixes0-dev

For Fedora, these dependencies are required:

dnf install pulseaudio-libs-devel libxcb-devel openssl-devel ncurses-devel dbus-devel

Building a Debian Package

You can use cargo-deb create in order to build a Debian package from source. Install it with:

cargo install cargo-deb

Then you can build a Debian package with:

cargo deb

You can find it under target/debian.


Install the latest ncspot release using:

cargo install ncspot

Or build it yourself using:

cargo build --release

# NB: add these flags on Windows
cargo build --release --no-default-features --features rodio_backend,cursive/pancurses-backend
  • Both approaches require a working Rust installation.

  • For debugging, you can pass a debug log filename and log stderr to a file, e.g. :

    RUST_BACKTRACE=full cargo run -- -d debug.log 2> stderr.log

Audio Backends

By default ncspot is built using the PulseAudio backend. To make it use the PortAudio backend (e.g. for *BSD or macOS) or Rodio backend (e.g. for Windows), you need to recompile ncspot with the respective features:

# PortAudio (BSD/macOS)
cargo run --no-default-features --features portaudio_backend,cursive/pancurses-backend

# Rodio (Windows)
cargo run --no-default-features --features rodio_backend,cursive/pancurses-backend

Key Bindings

The keybindings listed below are configured by default. Additionally, if you run ncspot with MPRIS support, you may be able to use media keys to control playback depending on your desktop environment settings. Have a look at the configuration section if you want to set custom bindings.


Key Command
? Show help screen.
F1 Queue (See specific commands).
F2 Search.
F3 Library (See specific commands).
F8 Album Art (if compiled with the cover feature).
/ Open a Vim-like search bar (See specific commands).
: Open a Vim-like command prompt (See specific commands).
Escape Close Vim-like search bar or command prompt.
Q Quit ncspot.


Key Command
Return Play track or playlist.
Space Queue track or playlist.
. Play the selected item after the currently playing track.
P Move to the currently playing track in the queue.
S Save the currently playing track to your library.
D Remove the currently playing track from your library.
Shift+P Toggle playback (i.e. Play/Pause).
Shift+S Stop playback.
Shift+U Update the library cache (tracks, artists, albums, playlists).
< Play the previous track.
> Play the next track.
F Seek forward.
Shift+F Seek forward with a 10-second step.
B Seek backwards.
Shift+B Seek backwards with a 10-second step.
- Decrease volume by 1.
+ Increase volume by 1.
[ Decrease volume by 5.
] Increase volume by 5.
R Toggle Repeat mode.
Z Toggle Shuffle state.

Context Menus

Key Command
O Open a detail view or context for the selected item.
Shift+O Open a context menu for the currently playing track.
A Open the album view for the selected item.
Shift+A Open the artist view for the selected item.
M Open the recommendations view for the selected item.
Shift+M Open the recommendations view for the currently playing track.
Ctrl+V Open the context menu for a Spotify link in your clipboard.
Backspace Close the current view.

When pressing O:

  • If the selected item is not a track, it opens a detail view.
  • If the selected item is a track, it opens a context menu with:
    • "Show Artist"
    • "Show Album"
    • "Share"
    • "Add to playlist"
    • "Similar tracks"


Key Command
X Copy a shareable URL of the currently selected item to the system clipboard.
Shift+X Copy a shareable URL of the currently playing track to the system clipboard.


Key Command
C Clear the entire queue.
D Delete the currently selected track.
Ctrl+S Delete the currently selected track.


Key Command
D Delete the currently selected playlist.

Vim-Like Search Bar

Key Command
n Previous search occurrence.
N Next search occurrence.

Vim-Like Commands

You can open a Vim-style command prompt using :, and close it at any time with Escape.

The following is an abridged list of commonly-used commands. For the full list, see source code.

Command Action
help Show current key bindings.
Aliases: q, x
Quit ncspot.
logout Remove any cached credentials from disk and quit ncspot.
Aliases: pause, toggleplay, toggleplayback
Toggle playback.
stop Stop playback.
seek [+|-]<time> Seek to the specified position, or seek relative to current position by prepending +/-. Supports mixing time units (e.g. seek 1m42s). Default unit is millisecond.
repeat [repeat_mode]
Aliases: loop
Set repeat mode. Omit repeat_mode argument to step through the available modes.
shuffle [on|off] Enable or disable shuffle. Omit argument to toggle.
previous Play previous track.
next Play next track.
focus <queue|search|library> Switch to a screen.
search <keyword> Search a song.
clear Clear playlist.
share <item> Copies a shareable URL of the item to the system clipboard.
newplaylist <name> Create new playlist with name name.
sort <sort_key> [sort_direction] Sort a playlist by sort_key in direction sort_direction. Default direction is ascending.
exec <cmd> Executes a command in the system shell. Be aware that command output is printed to the terminal, so redirection to /dev/null e.g. by appending 2> /dev/null may be necessary.
  • Supported repeat_mode are:
    • list | playlist | queue
    • track | once | single
    • none | off
  • Supported item are:
    • selected: Selected item.
    • current: Current song.
  • Supported sort_key are:
    • title
    • album
    • artist
    • duration
    • added
  • Supported sort_direction are:
    • a | asc | ascending
    • d | desc | descending


Configuration is saved to ~/.config/ncspot/config.toml (or %AppData%\ncspot\config.toml on Windows). To reload the configuration during runtime use the command prompt by typing :reload.

Possible configuration values are:

Name Description Possible values Default
command_key Key to open command line Single character :
initial_screen Screen to show after startup "library", "search", "queue", "cover"[^2] "library"
use_nerdfont Turn nerdfont glyphs on/off true, false false
flip_status_indicators Reverse play/pause icon meaning[^1] true, false false
backend Audio backend to use String [^3]
backend_device Audio device to configure the backend String
audio_cache Enable caching of audio files true, false true
audio_cache_size Maximum size of audio cache in MiB Number
volnorm Enable volume normalization true, false false
volnorm_pregain Normalization pregain to apply in dB (if enabled) Number 0.0
default_keybindings Enable default keybindings true, false false
notify Enable desktop notifications true, false false
bitrate Audio bitrate to use for streaming 96, 160, 320 320
album_column Show album column for tracks true, false true
gapless Enable gapless playback true, false true
shuffle Set default shuffle state true, false false
repeat Set default repeat mode off, track, playlist off
playback_state Set default playback state "Stopped", "Paused", "Playing", "Default" "Paused"
library_tabs Tabs to show in library screen Array of tracks, albums, artists, playlists, podcasts All tabs
[track_format] Set active fields shown in Library/Queue views See track formatting
[theme] Custom theme See custom theme
[keybindings] Custom keybindings See custom keybindings

[^1]: By default the statusbar will show a play icon when a track is playing and a pause icon when playback is stopped. If this setting is enabled, the behavior is reversed.

[^2]: If enabled. [^3]: Run ncspot -h for a list of devices.

Custom Keybindings

Keybindings can be configured in [keybindings] section in config.toml, e.g. as such:

"Shift+i" = "seek +10000"


ncspot will respect system proxy settings defined via the http_proxy environment variable.


Theme generator by @vaarad.

The color palette can be modified in the configuration. For instance, to have ncspot match Spotify's official client, you can add the following entries to the configuration file:

background = "black"
primary = "light white"
secondary = "light black"
title = "green"
playing = "green"
playing_selected = "light green"
playing_bg = "black"
highlight = "light white"
highlight_bg = "#484848"
error = "light white"
error_bg = "red"
statusbar = "black"
statusbar_progress = "green"
statusbar_bg = "green"
cmdline = "light white"
cmdline_bg = "black"
search_match = "light red"

More examples can be found in this pull request.

Track Formatting

It's possible to customize which fields are shown in Queue/Library views. If you don't define center for example, the default value will be used. Available options for tracks: %artists, %title, %album, %saved, %duration Default configuration:

left = "%artists - %title"
center = "%album"
right = "%saved %duration"
Examples: (Click to show/hide)

Example 1 - Show only album name and track name after it:

left = "%album"
center = "%title"
right = ""

Example 2 - Show track title before artists, and don't show album at all:

left = "%title - %artists"
center = ""

Example 3 - Show everything as default, but hide saved status and track length:

right = ""

Example 4 - Show everything as default, except show title before artists:

left = "%title - %artists"

Example 5 - Show saved status and duration first, followed by track title and artists, with the album last:

left = "|%saved| %duration | %title - %artists"
center = ""
right = "%album"

Cover Drawing

When compiled with the cover feature, ncspot can draw the album art of the current track in a dedicated view (:focus cover or F8 by default) using Überzug. For more information on installation and terminal compatibility, consult that repository.

To allow scaling the album art up beyond its resolution (640x640 for Spotify covers), use the config key cover_max_scale. This is especially useful for HiDPI displays:

cover_max_scale = 2


ncspot prompts for a Spotify username and password on first launch, uses this to generate an OAuth token, and stores it to disk.

The credentials are stored in ~/.cache/ncspot/librespot/credentials.json (unless the base path has been changed with the --basepath option).

The :logout command can be used to programmatically remove cached credentials (see Vim-Like Commands above).


~1.5M SLoC