#spotify #ncurses #librespot #terminal

app ncspot

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

39 releases

Uses new Rust 2021

0.12.0 Dec 28, 2022
0.11.2 Oct 15, 2022
0.11.1 Sep 17, 2022
0.10.1 Jul 31, 2022
0.0.0 Mar 4, 2019

#4 in Audio

Download history 78/week @ 2022-10-05 127/week @ 2022-10-12 100/week @ 2022-10-19 72/week @ 2022-10-26 75/week @ 2022-11-02 72/week @ 2022-11-09 67/week @ 2022-11-16 51/week @ 2022-11-23 71/week @ 2022-11-30 69/week @ 2022-12-07 99/week @ 2022-12-14 66/week @ 2022-12-21 138/week @ 2022-12-28 102/week @ 2023-01-04 90/week @ 2023-01-11 75/week @ 2023-01-18

413 downloads per month


11K SLoC



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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.

Note that ncspot offers features that are legally incompatible with free Spotify accounts. See feature comparison and Spotify user guidelines. You must have an existing premium Spotify subscription to use ncspot.

Search Screen

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

Your distribution may have packaged ncspot in its package repository. If so, simply install using your distribution's package manager - it is by far the easiest way. If not, you can build from source instead. See Build.

In case your package manager does not perform dependency resolution, here are the runtime dependencies:

  • dbus, libncurses, libssl
  • libpulse (or portaudio, if built using the PortAudio backend)
  • libxcb (if built with the clipboard feature)
  • ueberzug (if built with the cover feature)



On Linux, you also need:

  • pkgconf (or pkg-config)
  • Development headers for the aforementioned runtime dependencies
    • Debian and derivatives:
      sudo apt install libdbus-1-dev libncursesw5-dev libpulse-dev libssl-dev libxcb1-dev libxcb-render0-dev libxcb-shape0-dev libxcb-xfixes0-dev
    • Fedora:
      sudo dnf install dbus-devel libxcb-devel ncurses-devel openssl-devel pulseaudio-libs-devel
    • Arch and derivatives:
      # headers are included in the base packages
      sudo pacman -S dbus libpulse libxcb ncurses openssl


For debugging, you can pass a debug log filename:

cargo run -- -d debug.log

If ncspot has crashed you can find the latest backtrace at ~/.cache/ncspot/backtrace.log.


Compile and install the latest release with cargo-install:

cargo install ncspot

Or clone and build locally:

git clone https://github.com/hrkfdn/ncspot
cargo build --release

You may need to manually set the audio backend on non-Linux OSes. See Audio Backends.

Building a Debian Package

You can also use cargo-deb to build a Debian package

cargo install cargo-deb
cargo deb

You can find the package under target/debian.

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 compile ncspot with the respective features:

# PortAudio (BSD/macOS)
cargo build --release --no-default-features --features portaudio_backend,pancurses_backend

# Rodio (Windows)
cargo build --release --no-default-features --features rodio_backend,pancurses_backend

Other Features

Here are some auxiliary features you may wish to enable:

Feature Default Description
cover off Add a screen to show the album art. See Cover Drawing.
mpris on Control ncspot via dbus. See Arch Wiki: MPRIS.
notify on Send a notification to show what's playing.
share_clipboard on Ability to copy the URL of a song/playlist/etc. to system clipboard.

Consult Cargo.toml for the full list of supported features.

Key Bindings

The keybindings listed below are configured by default. Additionally, if you built 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 built 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 item to your library.
D Remove the currently playing item 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 by 1 second.
Shift+F Seek forward by 10 seconds.
B Seek backward by 1 second.
Shift+B Seek backward by 10 seconds.
- 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 (if built with the share_clipboard feature).
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:
    • "Artist(s)" (let's you show or (un)follow a track's artist(s))
    • "Show Album"
    • "Share" (if built with the share_clipboard feature)
    • "Add to playlist"
    • "Similar tracks"


(if built with the share_clipboard feature)

Key Command
X Copy the URL to the currently selected item to the system clipboard.
Shift+X Copy the URL to 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.
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 the more useful commands. For the full list, see source code.

Note: <FOO> - mandatory arg; [BAR] - optional arg

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 +/-.
* TIME is anything accepted by parse_duration
* Default unit is ms for backward compatibility.
repeat [REPEAT_MODE]
Alias: loop
Set repeat mode. Omit argument to step through the available modes.
* Valid values for REPEAT_MODE: list (aliases: playlist, queue), track (aliases: once, single), none (alias: off)
shuffle [on|off] Enable or disable shuffle. Omit argument to toggle.
previous Play the previous track.
next Play the next track.
focus <SCREEN> Switch to a different view.
* Valid values for SCREEN: queue, search, library, cover (if built with the cover feature)
search <SEARCH> Search for a song/artist/album/etc.
clear Clear the queue.
share <ITEM> Copy a shareable URL of the item to the system clipboard. Requires the share_clipboard feature.
* Valid values for ITEM: selected, current
newplaylist <NAME> Create a new playlist.
sort <SORT_KEY> [SORT_DIRECTION] Sort a playlist.
* Valid values for SORT_KEY: title, album, artist, duration, added
* Valid values for SORT_DIRECTION: ascending (default; aliases: a, asc), descending (aliases: d, desc)
exec <CMD> Execute a command in the system shell.
* Command output is printed to the terminal, so redirection (2> /dev/null) may be necessary.
noop Do nothing. Useful for disabling default keybindings. See custom keybindings.
reload Reload the configuration from disk. See Configuration.

Remote control (IPC)

Apart from MPRIS, ncspot will also create a domain socket on UNIX platforms (Linux, macOS, *BSD) at ~/.cache/ncspot/ncspot.sock. Applications or scripts can connect to this socket to send commands or be notified of the currently playing track, i.e. with netcat:

% nc -U ~/.cache/ncspot/ncspot.sock
{"mode":{"Playing":{"secs_since_epoch":1672249086,"nanos_since_epoch":547517730}},"playable":{"type":"Track","id":"2wcrQZ7ZJolYEfIaPP9yL4","uri":"spotify:track:2wcrQZ7ZJolYEfIaPP9yL4","title":"Hit Me Where It Hurts","track_number":4,"disc_number":1,"duration":184132,"artists":["Caroline Polachek"],"artist_ids":["4Ge8xMJNwt6EEXOzVXju9a"],"album":"Pang","album_id":"4ClyeVlAKJJViIyfVW0yQD","album_artists":["Caroline Polachek"],"cover_url":"https://i.scdn.co/image/ab67616d0000b2737d983e7bf67c2806218c2759","url":"https://open.spotify.com/track/2wcrQZ7ZJolYEfIaPP9yL4","added_at":"2022-12-19T22:41:05Z","list_index":0}}
{"mode":{"Paused":{"secs":25,"nanos":575000000}},"playable":{"type":"Track","id":"2wcrQZ7ZJolYEfIaPP9yL4","uri":"spotify:track:2wcrQZ7ZJolYEfIaPP9yL4","title":"Hit Me Where It Hurts","track_number":4,"disc_number":1,"duration":184132,"artists":["Caroline Polachek"],"artist_ids":["4Ge8xMJNwt6EEXOzVXju9a"],"album":"Pang","album_id":"4ClyeVlAKJJViIyfVW0yQD","album_artists":["Caroline Polachek"],"cover_url":"https://i.scdn.co/image/ab67616d0000b2737d983e7bf67c2806218c2759","url":"https://open.spotify.com/track/2wcrQZ7ZJolYEfIaPP9yL4","added_at":"2022-12-19T22:41:05Z","list_index":0}}

Each time the playback status changes (i.e. after sending the play/playpause command or simply by playing the queue), the current status will be published as a JSON structure.

Possible use cases for this could be:

  • Controlling a detached ncspot session (in tmux for example)
  • Displaying the currently playing track in your favorite application/status bar
  • Setting up routines, i.e. to play specific songs/playlists when ncspot starts


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

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"[1] "library"
use_nerdfont Turn nerdfont glyphs on/off true, false false
flip_status_indicators Reverse play/pause icon meaning[2] 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[4] Enable desktop notifications true, false false
bitrate Audio bitrate to use for streaming 96, 160, 320 320
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
cover_max_scale[1] Set maximum scaling ratio for cover art Number 1.0
hide_display_names Hides spotify usernames in the library header and on playlists true, false false
statusbar_format Formatting for tracks in the statusbar See track_formatting %artists - %track
[track_format] Set active fields shown in Library/Queue views See track formatting
[notification_format] Set the text displayed in notifications[4] See notification formatting
[theme] Custom theme See custom theme
[keybindings] Custom keybindings See custom keybindings
  1. If built with the cover feature.
  2. 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.
  3. Run ncspot -h for a list of devices.
  4. If built with the notify feature.

Custom Keybindings

Keybindings can be configured in [keybindings] section in config.toml.

Each key-value pair specifies one keybinding, where the key is a string in the format of:

  MODIFIER: Shift|Alt|Ctrl
  CHAR: Any printable character
  NAMED_KEY: Enter|Space|Tab|Backspace|Esc|Left|Right|Up|Down

For implementation see commands::CommandManager::parse_key.

Its value is a string that can be parsed as a command. See Vim-Like Commands.

Examples: (Click to show/hide)
# Bind "Shift+i" to "Seek forward 10 seconds"
"Shift+i" = "seek +10s"

To disable a default keybinding, set its command to noop:

# Use "Shift+q" to quit instead of the default "q"
"Shift+q" = "quit"
"q" = "noop"


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

# In sh-like shells
http_proxy="http://foo.bar:4444" ncspot


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 how tracks are shown in Queue/Library views and the statusbar, whereas statusbar_format will hold the statusbar formatting and [track_format] the formatting for tracks in list 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:

statusbar_format = "%artists - %title"

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"

Notification Formatting

ncspot also supports customizing the way notifications are displayed (which appear when compiled with the notify feature and notify = true). The title and body of the notification can be set, with title and body, or the default will be used. The formatting options are the same as those for track formatting (%artists, %title, etc)

Default configuration:

title = "%title"
body = "%artists"

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 up the album art beyond its native 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 remove cached credentials. See Vim-Like Commands.


~1.5M SLoC