Hands-on with Shazam for Mac: It knows what music you’re listening to, for the most part

shazam for mac os x hands on apple app store free
Shazam, the app that tells you the name of whatever song is playing in the background, has just arrived for Mac OS X. While the iOS, Android, and Windows versions of the app have been big hits, we wondered whether Shazam could find similar success with the Mac. So we decided to take it for a test spin and see how good it is at playing “Name That Tune,” with Shazam as the contestant.

Once we got Shazam up and running, it took up residence on our desktop in the form of a small, circular icon affixed to the Menu Bar at the very top of our screen. Once we opened Shazam, we found it to be a fire-and-forget deal. The program does its best to pick up and identify whatever music is played around it, which it did successfully; in most cases anyway.

With Shazam running on our MacBook Air, we moved to a quieter conference room to conduct most of our tests. We started off by whipping out our smartphone, opening YouTube, and simply playing some songs. We played Thrasher by Evile, and Into the Void, Lord of this World, and Orchid by Black Sabbath.

Shazam b1

Once Shazam identifies a song, a pop-up slides out from the upper left-hand corner of your screen. Clicking on it takes you to a Shazam page that displays the artist, the album that the song is from, and links to iTunes where you can buy the song, and all the other songs that are on that same album.

Shazam took roughly several seconds to identify the first three songs, but it did not identify Orchid. We gave Shazam about 40 seconds, but no dice. It’s worth noting that Orchid is a much softer, quieter song than Thrasher, Into the Void, and Lord of This World, so we wondered whether Shazam would have trouble with other soft songs as well.

Shazam b3

We tested that theory out by playing White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane, and Suzie Q by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Shazam took less than 10 seconds to identify both tunes, and they’re both pretty soft compared to the other songs (Orchid aside) that Shazam IDed.

Though the slide-out popup disappears after a few seconds, that doesn’t mean that you’ve totally missed out on Shazam’s discoveries in the event that you’re not staring at your Mac when it picks up whatever you’re listening to. The Shazam icon at the top of the screen essentially stores what’s best described as a song history. Think of it like your Web browsing history that’s specific to music. You can access it simply by clicking on the icon. Each entry includes a song name, artist name, and a “Download on iTunes” button next to each song as well.

Shazam b2

Shazam has an on/off switch here as well, in case you want a break from the pop-ups. A gear icon directly to the right of the on/off switch permits you set up Shazam to run whenever you log into OS X. There are share buttons with Facebook and Twitter built in, but those just permit you to share news of the app’s existence with your friends. They don’t tell your buddies what you’re listening to in real time.

Identifying songs playing from a smartphone is one thing, but we wondered whether Shazam would also work if we played stuff off our MacBook itself. We opened YouTube in Chrome and rattled off song after song; Luck Be A Lady by Frank Sinatra, Do Ya Think I’m Sexy by Rod Stewart, Promised Land by Elvis Presley, and Soul Kitchen by The Doors. Shazam identified all of these songs, but it took roughly 20 seconds to pick up Soul Kitchen. Soul Kitchen also starts out quietly as well, just like Orchid by Black Sabbath, so you may find that Shazam for Mac OS X has difficulty picking up softer, quieter tunes.

To further test this theory, we played The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss II, which also begins very softly. Shazam took about seven seconds to ID that song, so go figure. Ditto for Over Now by Alice in Chains, which has a super soft beginning of it’s own. For what it’s worth, we did all our tests with both our smartphone and our MacBook Air set to maximum volume. Keep in mind that neither of these devices are audio powerhouses, so if you routinely blast music on quality desktop or home theater speakers, Shazam should have no trouble picking up whatever gets played around it. Also, for this last batch of tests, we moved to a louder part of the office, where the air was filled with chatter along with the hum of a loud air conditioner. Large amounts of surrounding noise didn’t seem to get in the way of Shazam’s song-naming abilities much.

Shazam is free, and offers a benefit to anyone who loves music of any kind, so there’s no reason for you to not grab it. It works almost flawlessly, and doesn’t get in your way much. We wish there was a way to turn off the popups while keeping the app on, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. However, that’s a minor gripe overall.

You can download Shazam for Mac from the App Store right now by clicking here.

Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.

Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.

A dead pixel doesn't mean a dead display. Here's how to repair it

Dead pixel got you down? We don't blame you. Check out our guide on how to fix a dead pixel and save yourself that costly screen replacement or an unwanted trip to your local repair shop.

Latest Facebook bug exposed up to 6.8 million users’ private photos

An API bug recently left an impact on Facebook users. Though the issue has since been fixed, some of the apps on the platform had a wrongful access to consumers photos for 12 days between September 13 and September 25. 

You can now get a Surface Laptop 2 for $800 at the Microsoft Store

Along with deals on other variants, starting configurations of Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 are now going for $800 online at its retail store, cutting $200 from its usual $1,000 starting price. 

Canada’s winters inspired a startup to warm homes with cryptomining heat waste

Cryptomining may be the key to untold riches and the future of currency, but it’s also an environmental nightmare. Heatmine, thinks it has the answer, but it could mean bolting a mining rig onto every home and business in the country.

Need a monitor for professional photo-editing? These are the very best

Looking for the best monitor for photo editing? You'll need to factor in brightness, color accuracy, color gamut support and more. Fortunately, we've rounded up the best ones for you, to help you make an educated purchase.

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. These are the best HDR monitors you can buy right now.

You’ll soon be able to scribble all over PDFs on your Chromebook

Chrome OS users may soon be able to doodle all over their PDF documents with the possible addition of a new feature in Chrome OS' PDF viewer. The annotation feature is expected to allow users to hand draw or write over their documents.

Microsoft’s Windows 95 throwback was just an ugly sweater giveaway

Microsoft's "softwear" announcement wasn't what we had hoped for. Thursday's announcement was not the new line of wearable tech or SkiFree monster sweater we wished for. But it did deliver the 90s nostalgia we wanted.
Home Theater

Confused about LED vs. LCD TVs? Here's everything you need to know

Our LED vs. LCD TV buying guide explains why these two common types of displays are fundamentally connected, how they differ, what to look for in buying an LED TV, and what's on the horizon for TVs.

The best MacBook deals for December 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.

How to connect AirPods to your MacBook

If you have new AirPods, you may be looking forward to pairing them with your MacBook. Our guide will show you exactly how to connect AirPods to MacBook, what to do if they are already paired with a device, and more.