If you were excited about playing your favorite song but got the “Spotify can’t play this right now” error instead, you may be wondering what went wrong. This is a pretty common Spotify error that many users have encountered. This tutorial includes a list of solutions to try to hopefully be able to play those songs you’ve been waiting to hear.
Good to know: if the problem is that you can’t download songs from Spotify, check out our dedicated post on the matter.
While this error tends to be more common while using the Spotify desktop or Mac client, it can show up in the mobile apps as well. The error may be accompanied by the recommendation, “If you have the file on your computer, you can import it.” While you can try to import your local files and attempt to play the track(s) again, there’s a chance it still won’t work. If that happens, something is amiss with the app or your computer.
To solve the issue, ensure that you’ve gone through the list of basic fixes below before proceeding to the more issue-specific ones:
- Restart your device: a simple reboot may be all you need to start listening to your favorite tracks again. If the problem is due to a glitch or misconfigured setting, a restart will take care of things.
- Log out of your Spotify account: in the desktop app, click the user icon (Windows) or drop-down arrow (Mac) in the upper-right corner, and select “Log out.” In the mobile app, you’ll need to tap the gear icon in the right corner and swipe down to find the “Log out” button. Sign back in with your username and account.
- Restart Spotify: if you’ve been using the app for a while, it may have become glitchy. Close the app, then open it again to see if it solves anything. If you’re using Spotify on Android, make sure you close the app properly before restarting it.
- Update Spotify: an outdated app often misbehaves, so make sure Spotify is up to date. On a computer, when an update is available, you’ll notice a blue dot next to your profile picture (Windows) or the drop-down arrow (Mac) next to your profile picture. Click it, then select “Update Spotify now.” On Android and iOS, check the Google App Store and App Store, respectively, to see whether there are any updates for Spotify.
1. Check the Song’s Availability
Some songs may not be available for you to play on Spotify due to copyright restrictions. For instance, if the licensing agreements for a song expired and were not renewed, the track will no longer be available on Spotify. Some music can also be region-locked, meaning that it’s only accessible to play in certain geographical regions.
You can make Spotify show whether songs are unavailable: they will appear grayed out. The mobile app lets you enable or disable this feature.
- Press the gear-shaped icon in the upper-right corner to open Settings.
- Swipe down all the way to “Playback,” and toggle on the “Show unplayable songs” option.
- You’ll know that songs that are grayed out just aren’t available to be played on Spotify.
Tip: moving to a new music streaming service? Learn how to transfer your Spotify playlists to Apple Music.
2. Disable Hardware Acceleration
Hardware acceleration is a feature that enables Spotify to leverage the capabilities of your computer’s GPU to handle tasks related to rendering visuals, animations, and effects with the Spotify application. However, the option has been known to interfere with the service’s ability to play tracks, which is why it needs to be turned off.
- In the Spotify client for desktop or Mac, click either the user icon or the drop-down arrow in the upper-right corner. Select “Settings” from the menu.
- Scroll down to the bottom, and disable the toggle next to “Enable hardware acceleration.”
- Restart your computer to see whether the error persists.
3. Disable or Reduce Crossfading
Spotify’s crossfading feature allows a smooth transition between songs by overlapping the end of the track with the beginning of the next. While it’s a very useful addition, setting a large value for this transitioning effect has been correlated to playback errors, such as “Spotify can’t play this right now.” Try reducing this value to a minimum to see if you can play the affected tracks afterward.
- On your PC, open Settings once again.
- Scroll down until you find the “Playback” section. Check the “Crossfade song” option. If it’s enabled, you’ll notice a slider next to it. Drag it all the way to “0.”
- Alternatively, toggle off the “Crossfade songs” option altogether. (The slider will disappear.)
- On the mobile apps, you’ll find a slider next to the “Crossfade” option under “Playback.” Set it to “Off.”
FYI: want to track your music streaming? Generate a Spotify receipt.
4. Change Streaming Quality
If you have a Spotify Premium account and opted for high streaming quality for your account, it could be the reason you’re getting the playing error on your device. Try lowering it to see if it solves your issue.
- Go to Spotify Settings on your PC.
- In the “Audio quality” section, press on the drop-down menu next to “Streaming Quality.”
- Select “Automatic,” “Low” or any option lower than your current setting.
- On mobile, you’ll have to set new values for “Wi-Fi streaming” and “Cellular streaming.”
5. Change Output Format for PC Speakers
Are you using a DAC (digital-to-analog converter) at higher sample rates? It may be what’s causing the issue. Try changing the output format for your speakers to a lower or higher value (although you should start by lowering it), and see what happens.
- Open Control Panel on your computer.
- Click on “Hardware & Sound.” If you don’t see this option, make sure “View by” is set to “Category” in the upper-right corner.
- Click “Sound.”
- Select “Speakers,” then click the “Properties” button.
- Click on the drop-down underneath “Default Format” to select a different value. We recommend selecting a lower one than what you’re currently using.
- On Mac, modify this setting using the Audio MIDI Setup app.
Tip: learn how to change the default audio device in Windows.
6. Set Output Device for Spotify to Default
Another possible Windows solution is to check whether your output device for the Spotify app is set to default. Before attempting this fix, make sure your Spotify client is open.
- Navigate to “System -> Sound.”
- Scroll down and click on “Volume Mixer.”
- Find Spotify in the “Apps” section, and press the drop-down arrow next to it.
- Make sure the “Output device” is set to “Default.” If it’s not, tap on the box to change it.
- Windows 10 users should go to “Settings -> System -> Sound,” and click “App volume and device preferences” to open the Volume Mixer options. Find the Spotify app, and use the drop-down menu to set it to “Default.”
7. Reinstall Spotify
If nothing has worked so far, try to reinstall the Spotify app. If you’re experiencing the issue on your Windows computer, remove the program first via Settings, then reinstall it from the Microsoft Store. On Android or iOS, you’ll need to uninstall and reinstall from Play Store and App Store, respectively.
- Go to “Settings -> Apps -> Installed apps.”
- Find the app in the list, and press the three dots next to it.
- Select “Uninstall” to remove the app.
- Open the Microsoft Store. Find the Spotify app via the search bar, and install it from there.
Tip: Spotify web player not working for you? Try these fixes.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’m seeing this error after I’ve paused playback with Bluetooth headphones (or another connected device). How can I fix it?
Make sure your device’s firmware is up to date. For Bluetooth devices, you can also unpair and repair them to fix the error.
Does Spotify limit your library of songs?
If you’re wondering whether you’re seeing the error due to your music library being too large, don’t worry about it. A while back, the streaming service removed its previously held 10,000-song cap, allowing users to save unlimited content to their “Your Music” collections.
Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by Alexandra Arici.
Subscribe to our newsletter!
Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox