How to tell Spotify not to run at login on a Mac

I noticed that Spotify was launching itself every time I started my Mac, and since I didn’t want that to happen, I tried to turned that behavior off. It wasn’t so easy to do it, so I thought I’d write up how to tell Spotify not to automatically launch at login.

Here’s the normal way to manage what runs at login: go to System Preferences, then Users & Groups, then Login Items. Here’s my list of Login Items:

Login Items (first of two pictures)
Lots of Login Items, but no Spotify!
Login Items (second of two pictures)
The rest of my Login Items. Still no Spotify.

I didn’t remember putting Spotify into the Login Items list, and it turns out I didn’t! Look it over– Spotify is not in the list. Yet Spotify was launching every time I restarted the Mac.

Note: checking the “Hide” box will seems like the right thing to do, but that won’t prevent an app from running at login. It doesn’t work that way. The app will run, but will be hidden (as if you hid it yourself using the application’s own menu). The way to prevent something from running at login is to click on it in the list of Login Items, and then click the “minus” down below.

The Dock’s “Open at Login” option (click on the item in the Dock, hold the button down, slide up to Options, slide over to “Open at Login”) is connected to the Login Items list. If you choose “Open at Login” that way, you’ll see the item in the Login Items in System Preferences too. If you uncheck “Open at Login” via the Dock you’ll remove it from the Login Items in System Preferences also. So, it was not surprising to find that clicking and holding on Spotify in the Dock did not reveal an accidental “Open at Login.” Still, I thought it was worth investigating.

So, Spotify wasn’t set as a Login Item– not in System Preferences / Users & Groups /Login Items, and not in the Dock. So why was it launching at login? I decided to look at Spotify’s settings.

Here are the preferences for Spotify. You don’t see anything about startup up automatically at login. But you do see a button that says “Show Advanced Settings.” Click that.

Spotify's preferences
Spotify’s preferences

In Advanced Settings you see this:

Spotify's advanced settings
Spotify’s advanced settings. Not the “Startup and Window Behaviour” section.

Aha! There’s the culprit: “Open Spotify automatically after you log into the computer.” You see a little menu to the right, with these options:

Options for "Open Spotify automatically after you log into the computer."
Options for “Open Spotify automatically after you log into the computer.”

I changed that menu to “No,” quit Spotify, restarted my Mac, logged into my account, and… Spotify did not launch! Just what I wanted.

Spotify shouldn’t work this way. It should work the way almost every other Mac program works– that is, it should use the Apple-provided mechanisms for opening things at login. (The only other app I know that doesn’t do it the right way is Evernote– I complained about that in a previous article.)

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