How to create a Spotify refresh token the easy way

In this guide I will explain how to manually generate a Spotify refresh token then use that to programmatically create an access token when needed.

My use case was for my wwoz_to_spotify project in which I have a long running cronjob that needs to update a Spotify playlist. Since the job runs in the background I needed a way to avoid the Spotify login pop-up during the authorization flow. The solution is to manually generate a Spotify refresh token then use that to create an access token when needed.

Step 1: Get your Spotify client_id and client_secret

Visit your Spotify developers dashboard then select or create your app. Note down your Client ID, Client Secret, and Redirect URI in a convenient location to use in Step 2.

Step 2: Get your access code

Visit the following URL after replacing $CLIENT_ID, $SCOPE, and $REDIRECT_URI with the information you noted in Step 1. Make sure the $REDIRECT_URI is URL encoded.$CLIENT_ID&scope=$SCOPE&redirect_uri=$REDIRECT_URI

My url looked like this$CLIENT_ID&scope=playlist-modify-private&

Step 3: Get code from the redirect URL

I was redirected to the following URL because my redirect URI was set to In place of $CODE there was a very long string of characters. Copy that string and note it down for use in Step 4.$CODE

Step 4: Get the refresh token

Running the following CURL command will result in a JSON string that contains the refresh token, in addition to other useful data. Again, either replace or export the following variables in your shell $CILENT_ID, $CLIENT_SECRET, $CODE, and $REDIRECT_URI.

curl -d client_id=$CLIENT_ID -d client_secret=$CLIENT_SECRET -d grant_type=authorization_code -d code=$CODE -d redirect_uri=$REDIRECT_URI

The result will be a JSON string similar to the following. Take the refresh_token and save that in a safe, private place. This token will last for a very long time and can be used to generate a fresh access_token whenever it is needed.

    "access_token": "$ACCESS_TOKEN",
    "token_type": "Bearer",
    "expires_in": 3600,
    "refresh_token": "$REFRESH_TOKEN",
    "scope": "playlist-modify-private"