MacMost Now 609: Understanding iTunes Smart Playlists

Smart Playlists in iTunes are lists of songs that automatically update according to search criteria. You can create a Smart Playlist that looks for songs in your library according to how recently they were added or played, or how you have rated them, their genres and other properties.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now, on todays episode let's take a look at smart playlists in iTunes. So I've mentioned smart playlists many times before but i've never done an episode specifically on them. So your here in Itunes and on the left you have your library, music, movies, t.v shows, etc... You've got links to the store, you've got shared iTunes libraries as well and at the bottom you've got playlists. Now there are two different types of playlists. One is a playlist you create and you press the plus button down here and you create a normal playlist and you can see the icon there and you can drag and drop music into that normal playlist and it will just appear there in any that order you want it. go into that playlist, there it is. Smart playlists are searches really that have certain criteria. For instance you can do most recently played or songs only by a certain artist or songs of a certain type. You've got some default playlists here and we can start by examining those. So for instance lets take a look at the recently played smart playlist. Now this has three songs in it right now and these are the last three songs that I played. So how did it know that? Well, if I were to control click or right click on the smart playlist I can edit it. And this is a great introduction smart play. This cause you can just see exactly how this one is set up. It is set up here with some search criteria. It has to match all the following rules. Those rules are last played was in the last two weeks and the media kind is not a podcast. So only music or videos. Then below that you also have a limit to only twenty five items so if i have listened to say thirty songs in the last two weeks it would only show me the most recent twenty five. Um, checked items there are little check marks next to songs. I can say only the ones that are checked get included in this. I can also say how to select the twenty five that i'm going to limit. So for instance I can have just random twenty five songs I've recently listened to or by rating, by most recently played so in other words sort them, I can even do most often played. So the twenty five most recent songs and out of those the ones that are most often played. Then down here you have one of the most important things you have live updating. That's not checked it will simply do the search now populate the playlist and the playlist will remain the same. But with that check that means the playlist will change automatically. Let me demonstrate. If I were to go here into music and I will play just a song. And ill actually let it complete ill just jump to the end. Now if I go into the recently played I can see its added that song to it automatically. I didn't have to do anything to actually change the playlist it automatically adds it. And any other playlist, smart playlists that would add that song because I just recently played it or maybe just recently rated it or played it more often than others would automatically update, these are always updating depending upon different actions you take in iTunes. So lets create one. Lets go to file, new smart playlist, now I got that same window here but its kind of blank. Ah just going to match the following rules, only one rule, and it starts off with something like artist contains. So i can just say lets do a playlist with all the Beatles songs or I can change it to something else. Like for instance lets do a playlist where the name only contains a single word in it. Creates an odd playlist for me. Or I can do something where a composer or an artist or even a year matches something. So lets go and just select lets say genre and lets have it is and then well do rock. Now if i'm going to add another item i can hit the plus button here. Say the genre is rock and lets do a year is less than 2000. So earlier rock and then im going to limit it to only twenty five items selected by most recently added and have live updating. And that will create my smart playlist. The other thing I can check here is it's matching all of these. I can also have it match any of these. So I can say genre is rock or I can say genre is blues to create a playlist that has both rock and blues. And then in this case I may want to say just some random songs, twenty five of them and stick them in there. And that way every time i play the playlist it is going to choose another twenty five random rock or blues songs. So heres a quick look at smart playlists. One of the best things about them is that the sync with your iPod or iPhone, so you could create a smart playlist of lets say your most recently added songs and every time you sync its going to sync that playlist as long as you have it selected in iTunes as a playlist that you want to sync to your device. And then it would automatically update so every time you sync you'll reestablish that playlist on that device with your most recently added songs. Hope you found this useful till next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 5 Responses to “MacMost Now 609: Understanding iTunes Smart Playlists”

    jac mills
    9/23/11 @ 7:38 am

    Great explanation of playlists in iTunes, Gary. Something else, in general: When you demonstrate with your videos, movement on your computer is so quick. Mine is no where near that speed. I will soon be getting a new Apple machine and wonder if you would mind telling what kind of speed/memory etc that makes yours so fast. Thank you.

      9/23/11 @ 8:11 am

      Well I’m use a very powerful Mac Pro with 8 cores, 10GB of RAM, etc. But I get the same level of response on my “low end” MacBook Air.

    jac mills
    9/23/11 @ 9:45 am

    Thanks, Gary. I guessed you must have a V-8 souped-up pro model. I have 13″ Macbook, mere 4GB, and it really is fast for me, but when I see yours…WOW!!!!!!!! Really enjoy all your videos, even the ones I cannot yet understand fully. But I am learning so much from them.

    Dawn Slater
    9/29/11 @ 3:18 pm

    When dragging and dropping songs to a new playlist, do they stay in their original playlist or do they move from it?

      9/29/11 @ 6:48 pm

      Remember that songs are actually IN the playlist. A playlist is just a list of references to songs that are in their folders by album and artist. So dragging from one playlist to another should just copy that reference. Easy enough to try it and see.

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