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How to add music recognition to your MacOS Menu Bar - no Siri needed!

Want to know what song is playing? Thanks to a handy new feature in MacOS Sonoma 14.2​, your Mac can listen and identify the music. Here's how to enable and use it.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Adam Hester/Getty Images

I can't tell you how many times I've heard music that I didn't recognize and wanted to know the name of the artist and the song. Just about everyone I know has confronted this same situation many times.

Thankfully, Apple has made the recognition of music incredibly easy on any device running MacOS Sonoma 14.2. This new feature was made possible because Apple purchased Shazam back in 2018. But until recently, that feature could only be used via Siri. 

Also: The Apple products you shouldn't buy this month 

With the most recent update to Sonoma, Apple has made song recognition even easier by making it available to the Menu Bar. Now all you have to do is open a drop-down menu and click an entry to have the Music Recognition feature start listening. In seconds, it will not only show you the song and artist but also give you quick access to the title in question via Apple Music.

The Music Recognition feature works whether you have Siri enabled or disabled and even syncs across your devices (so the music discovered on your MacBook can be enjoyed on your iMac). Music Recognition also retains the songs it's discovered until you delete them. The feature is fast, accurate, and a handy helper for music lovers.

Let me show you how to enable and use it.

How to add Music Recognition to your Menu Bar

What you'll need: The only thing you'll need is a device running MacOS 14.2. If you're unsure what release your MacBook or iMac has, go to Apple > About This Mac, and the pop-up window will display the current version running on your device. If the MacOS release is earlier than 14.2, go to System Settings > General > Software Update and check to see if 14.2 is available for your device.

1. Open System Settings

Click the Apple icon in the Menu Bar and select System Settings. You can also open the System Settings app from the Launch Pad by clicking the icon on your Dock and then launching System Settings from the overview.

2. Go to the Control Center

From within System Settings, locate and click Control Center from the left sidebar (which will be the third icon below General).

The Control Center entry in the System Settings app.

You'll find this entry in the left sidebar of the System Settings app.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Also: The best and newest Macs compared

3. Enable Music Recognition

In the right pane, scroll down until you see Music Recognition. Here, you'll find two options: Show in Menu Bar and Show in Control Center. You can enable both of them, but I find using it from the Menu Bar is the more efficient option. A small icon should appear in your Menu Bar. Once you've done this, close System Settings.

The Music Recognition entry in System Settings.

You can enable one or both of the entries. (Just remember which one so you know where to find the feature.)

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Using Music Recognition

1. Open the service

With a piece of music playing, click the Music Recognition icon in the Menu Bar and the drop-down will appear.

The Music Recognition drop-down.

The Music Recognition feature only listens when you tell it to.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Start the service

Hover your cursor over the Music Recognition entry in the drop-down and then click Start Listening to start the service.

The Start Listening button.

Hover your cursor over Music Recognition and you can then start the listening process.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Wait for it…

The Music Recognition service should fairly quickly hear and recognize the song playing. It will then list it in the drop-down.

Two entries in the Music Recognition drop-down.

I started this morning off with a bit of Mozart and Hum.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Also: How to optimize storage on your MacOS device

4. Open it…

If you want to open the song in Apple Music, hover your cursor over the entry in question and a small Apple Music icon will appear. Click that icon and Apple Music will open to play the song. If you want to delete an entry, simply click the associated trash can icon.

The Apple Music icon shown in the Music Recognition history.

You can either open a song or delete its entry from the drop-down.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

And that's all it takes to add a fantastic music recognition feature to your MacOS Menu Bar. With this added, you'll never find yourself at a loss as to what song is playing.

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