Shuffling Songs Together With iTunes Grouping

The default behavior for shuffling songs in iTunes on your Mac is to play them in random order. However, you can use Grouping to group together songs on an album so that those songs play sequentially during a shuffle. This comes in handy with classical music, for instance, where a symphony may be broken up into several tracks.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Shuffling Songs Together With iTunes Grouping.

Here's a technique that comes in handy if you use the shuffle function in iTunes on your Mac but you don't want the songs to shuffle in a completely random order. An example is when you have classical music albums. Typically you have a piece that's divided into several tracks. For instance here there's an album of all of Beethoven's nine symphonies and each symphony is broken up into several tracks. You have four tracks for the first symphony, four for the second, etc. Now if I were to hit shuffle it would start shuffling all of this music here. You can see it's doing symphony number 8 there. If I were to use the forward button it would jump to 2, it would jump to 4. It would keep jumping around and playing different parts of different symphonies. I don't want that. I want it to play an entire symphony and then shuffle to another one.

There is a way to do that using a special data field called Grouping. So I'm going to select the first track here and I'm going to use Command I to get info on it. You can see here all the information about this track. Now Grouping is right here underneath composer. Grouping you can put whatever you want in there. But you're going to want to use a name that makes sense. I'm going to call it Beethoven First in this case. I'm going to hit Okay or I can go to Forward arrow to the next track and I can do the same thing. I go back and just Copy and Paste. I go Copy, Forward, Paste it in the next track, Paste it in the next one, Paste it in the next one. So all of the first four tracks are grouped as Beethoven First.

I can do it for multiple tracks at the same time. So I can select, by using the Shift key, all four parts of symphony number 2, Command I and I can type Beethoven's 2nd and hit okay. Now all four of those are set. So I'm going to go ahead and set those for symphony 3 through 9 as well.

So now I've set the Grouping for all these tracks. The next thing you need to do is go under Controls to Shuffle. You can see you have three choices here. Shuffle Songs, Albums, or Groupings. So I want to make sure I select Groupings there. You can see that the checkmark moves to Groupings. Now when I hit the Shuffle button it will jump right to the first track in a group. There it jumps to the first track in the fifth symphony. If I use the Forward arrow now it goes to the second track, third track, and now another one will shuffle to another symphony. In this case symphony number 2, and it goes through those tracks before it jumps to another random symphony and plays all of those in order.

So that allows you to group together these songs. Now Grouping works in conjunction with other things. So I noticed that, for instance, when I tried to apply this to a playlist and have songs from different albums it didn't work. I couldn't group two songs from two different albums together. But it works within an album to do it. It even works inside a playlist. So I can jump to this Beethoven's symphony playlist, which has all the same songs in it, and if I hit Shuffle All here I find that it will jump to the first track in symphony number 5 and go through all the ones of that symphony before jumping to another one, in this case 8 and then go through all of those.

So it even works in playlists. You can have several different albums in a playlist and then group together songs within each album and then expect those songs to stick together as long as the grouping and the album are the same. So very handy for classical music and for some other types of music as well. Perhaps rock albums or soundtrack albums that have songs grouped together that you want to keep together when you shuffle.

Comments: 6 Responses to “Shuffling Songs Together With iTunes Grouping”

    Jim Moore
    12 months ago

    Thank you for this insight.
    Was wondering if you noticed if grouping carried over to the iPhone as well?

    12 months ago

    Jim: I think it does, but try it and see.

    Richard Wade
    12 months ago

    Appreciate your how this works on iPhone. It would be great if it’s teamed with CarPlay!

    12 months ago

    Richard: All that CarPlay would add to this is the ability to start the shuffle using your car’s controls. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with it. Have you tried?

    12 months ago

    I had trouble at first when I had two different encodings of the same song, MPEG and AAC for example. Giving them new track numbers worked.
    Also I noticed when I grouped a bunch of tracks I got an option in the Get Info window called Work and Movement which may be something similar

    Adam Snyder
    11 months ago

    Very interesting article. I’ve have wondered about this for some time now.
    I did group 2 Van Halen songs together that should always stay together. Did this on my MacBook. Saw that it updated on my iMac as well. However I tried this on my iPhone. It will not play the one after the other.
    Did anyone ever come up with the conclusion if this carried over to iPhones as well?
    I’m either doing something incorrect or it simply won’t transfer over??

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