How to Use Pandora

Hopefully by now, you've downloaded and installed the Pandora app for your device of choice, or at least signed up for a Pandora account.  Now, it's time to get to the good part: how to actually use Pandora!  This lesson will show you how to log into Pandora, create and manage your custom radio stations, control the Pandora music player, and sign up for Pandora One if you want to listen commercial-free and with more available skips.

Using Pandora

Logging into Pandora

  1. Go to www.pandora.com in your web browser.  Then, click Log In in the top-right corner of the screen.

    How to log into Pandora

  2. Once you're on the log-in screen for Pandora, click in the box labelled "Email" and type in the email address that you used to sign up for Pandora.  Then, click in the box labelled "Password" and type in the password that you chose to protect your Pandora account with.  You may also want to click the check box beside "Keep Me Signed In" to unmark it if you're using Pandora on a computer that someone else might use (like one in a public place, such as a library or Internet café).  When you're done, click Log In.

    How to fill out the Pandora log in form

Creating and managing Pandora radio stations

  1. Once you've logged into Pandora, it's time to create your very first custom Pandora radio station!  Click in the text box that appears and type in the name of a song, musical artist, or music genre.  Suggestions will appear below the box; click on one to start a station based on that song, artist, or genre.  Or, if you don't know what to look for, click Browse.

    How to search for criteria for a Pandora radio station

  2. If you choose to browse for stations, click the categories on the left to filter stations by musical genre or mood.  Then, you can click on a station name, or one of the artists played on that station, to see more information about the station or artist.  Click Play Station to start playing music by the station's artists.

    How to browse for pre-made Pandora radio stations

  3. Once you have created a station, you can create a new one by clicking in the box in the top-left corner labelled "New Station".  Then, you can repeat the same processes in steps 1 and 2 of this section of looking for specific songs, artists, or genres, or browsing for genre-related stations.

    How to create a new Pandora radio station

  4. If you want to shuffle back and forth between songs on different stations, click the Shuffle button.  From there, you can click the check boxes beside each station to decide whether you want to include it in the shuffle or not.  Or, you can click on a station's name to go back to listening to that particular station.

    How to shuffle your Pandora radio stations

  5. You can have up to 100 radio stations on Pandora at a time.  If you want to remove a station, click on its name to select it, click Options, and then click Delete This Station.

    How to delete a Pandora radio station

Controlling the music that you hear on Pandora

  1. You can't directly pick the music that you want to hear on Pandora, but there are some ways to control it.  At the top of the screen are the most basic ways: click the Play/Pause button to start or (temporarily) stop the current song; click the Skip button to skip the current song (be careful, though; you can only do this a limited number of times per hour and per day), or click on the speaker icon and click an area of the slider to adjust the volume of the Pandora player.

    How to control the current song playing on Pandora

  2. Also at the top of the screen are the "thumbs" icons.  If you click the thumbs down icon, Pandora will learn that you don't like this song (or its qualities), and will skip it.  (Be careful, as this counts as a skip!)  On the other hand, it you click the thumbs up icon, Pandora will know that you like this song, and can find other songs with similar musical qualities that you may like.

    How to like or dislike the current song playing on Pandora

  3. In the main window, you will see the album artwork of songs that have played.  You can click the arrow icons at either end of this window to scroll back and forth through songs that have played, and click on one to select it.  As you can see here, you can also click the thumbs down and thumbs up icons on a song (which appear if you move your mouse cursor over its artwork) to tell Pandora that you like or dislike the song.  (In this case, clicking thumbs down won't count as a skip, since the song has already played.)

    How to browse and rate previously-played songs on a Pandora radio station

  4. You can also modify what songs you hear on a particular station by adding additional songs, artists, or genres as criteria for the songs that the station plays.  To do so, click on a station to select it, and then click Add Variety.  From there, the process is much the same as creating an entirely new station: click in the text box that appears, type in the name of a song, artist, or genre, and click one of the suggestions that appear. 

    How to add extra criteria to a Pandora radio station

    You can also click one of the suggestions below the search box of other songs/artists/genres that Pandora feels are similar to the one that the station is based on.

  5. Below the main window, you can see the current song that is playing, the artist performing it, and the album that it's from.  Clicking any of these will take you to an information page about that particular item; you can often start a new station from there based on the item.

    How to publish, share, or buy music played on Pandora

    If you click the Publish button, you can choose whether or not you want to publish a post to your Facebook account every time you listen to or "thumbs up" a song, or when you start following another Pandora user.  You can set under which conditions you post to Facebook in your "Privacy" settings by clicking Options.  (You will also need to log into your Facebook account in order to link it to your Pandora account.)

    If you click Share, you can write a message about the current station or song that you're listening to and post it on your Pandora profile, as well as the music feeds of anyone following you on Pandora.  You can also choose to share the station or song through an email, or through your Facebook or Twitter account.

    If you click Buy, you can buy this song on iTunes or Amazon, or buy a hard copy of the CD from Amazon.  See our How to Buy on Amazon tutorial if you want to buy a track or CD from Amazon.

    There's one last thing here that we'll mention: on the left-hand side, you'll notice two buttons labelled Date and A-Z, respectively.  You can click these to sort your radio stations according to when they were created, or by their names in alphabetical order.

How to subscribe to Pandora One

  1. If you want to upgrade your Pandora experience to Pandora One, click Upgrade in the top-right corner of the screen after logging in.

    How to upgrade your Pandora account

  2. Assuming that you haven't subscribed to Pandora One before, click Start Your Free Week.

    How to start a free trial of Pandora One

  3. Now, all that's left is to decide how you wish to pay for Pandora One after your free week is over.

    How to enter your billing information in order to pay for Pandora One

    Below "Select Your Preferred Method of Payment", click the button on the left to pay by credit card, or click the button on the right to pay by PayPal.  (See our How to Pay with PayPal tutorial for help if you want to pay with PayPal.)

    Assuming that you wish to pay by credit card, click in each of the boxes highlighted here and type in or select:

    - Your name (as it appears on your credit card)
    - Your credit card's number
    - Your credit card's security code
    - The month and year that your credit card expires
    - Your mailing code (it may already be filled in)

    Underneath this section, click one of the buttons to choose whether you wish to pay for your Pandora One subscription by month or by year.  Below that, click the check box and mark it to say that you agree with the rules of Pandora One, including that you can cancel at any time.  (We'll cover how to do that in our How to Delete Your Pandora Account tutorial.)  Finally, click Start Your Free Week.

 

Those are the basics of using Pandora!  We hope you discover some new music to enjoy, and perhaps something about your musical tastes!

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