44 Comments

Summary:

Smart Playlists in iTunes have always been a powerful way to create specific playlists to meet your needs, from creating a rotating fresh playlist for syncing to an iDevice to creating a specific playlist for a party. Being able to say “give me my music that […]

Smart Playlists in iTunes have always been a powerful way to create specific playlists to meet your needs, from creating a rotating fresh playlist for syncing to an iDevice to creating a specific playlist for a party. Being able to say “give me my music that hasn’t been played in the last month, that is of at least 320kbps and is rated 5 stars” is pretty sweet.

In iTunes 8 and earlier you could create all of these multiple rules and have them applied with a ‘match operator,’ which could be ALL (all rules have to match for a track to be included) or ANY (if any of the single rules apply the track will be included).

iTunes 9 has quietly and substantially expanded the level of complexity that you can create in these rules by allowing you to create nested rules. This lets you build up substantial logic with multiple ANY and ALL match operators being applied.

Lets look at a simple example.

iTunes 9 Smart Playlist

Here I have four individual rules:

  • Not played in the last week
  • Bitrate is higher than 150kbps
  • Was added to my iTunes library this year
  • Is Music (not a podcast, or video)

Previously this had to be an ALL or ANY. But now the rule comes down to one and four and (two or three). So it will give me all music that hasn’t been played in the last week, and has either been added this year or is higher than 150kbps.

The example above is simple but reflects the power that can be obtain from single level nesting. But wait, there’s just one more thing. Actually, there’s more than one; you can have up to five levels of nesting.

iTunes 9 Smart Playlist -5 layers

The possible combinations of logic available here are liable to do one’s head in — but I’d be interested in seeing what complex rules are being used by our readers. Let us know how you use Smart Playlists.

You're subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. This seems better controlled. is there a way (perhaps by beats or something) to tell if something in a “soundtrack” genre, is actually a soundtrack (instead of the artists performing in a movie) instead of changing the genre. If you can only change the genre, would this mess up Album art or other tags?

    Share
    1. As far as I can tell, you have to change the genre, but it doesn’t mess up album artwork. I’ve found that it works well to first list the primary genre of a song, followed by any secondary or tertiary genres (“soundtrack/pop”, for example). Then you can create a smart playlist for genres that contain “soundtrack” (all soundtrack), one for genres that are “soundtrack” (scores), and another for songs that contain, but are not, “soundtrack” (movie songs, etc).

      Share
    2. @blondepianist – That worked excellent! Thanks. Worked like a charm. changed some of the genres then for others added an “album artist” that I can then not include.

      Share
  2. I think the cooler thing no one seems to be noticing is how awesome the Classical Music playlist is now, with its custom format. Maybe I just missed it in a previous version, but this is a much improved way of viewing a large collection of classical music.

    Share
  3. I found that yesterday. pretty cool. should have been part of iTunes since the beginning.

    Share
  4. I hadn’t even noticed this, and it was one of the things I’ve wished iTunes did for a long time. There have been several instances where I’ve needed more powerful logic than what the old Smart playlists gave. Thanks for the update!

    Share
  5. Some of my favorites:

    New Unrated – Rating is 0 stars, Date Added is in the last 3 months, Media Kind is Music

    Unrated (Hot Albums) – Album Rating is greater than 4 stars, Rating is 0 stars

    A Good Year – Rating is 5 stars, Date Added is in the last 12 months, Last Played is not in the last 1 week

    Supergenius Unrated – Playlist is Genius, Rating is 0 stars.
    Seed this by picking a song for Genius, then point iTunes DJ toward Supergenius Unrated. This is great for ferreting out forgotten and unrated gems from a big library.

    Lost Lovers – Rating is greater than 3 stars, Play Count is less than 2, Last Played is not in the last 1 month

    And for syncing to my iPhone:
    Audiobooks – Genre is Audiobook, Play Count is 0
    This keeps my fresh audiobooks on my phone and removes each file as I finish it. I don’t use this to listen to the files, just to keep them in sync. They’ll still show up in the Audiobook section of the iPod app.

    Share
    1. > Unrated (Hot Albums) – Album Rating is greater than > 4 stars, Rating is 0 stars

      I don’t understand this one. How do you rate an album and the individual tracks separately?

      Share
    2. I think that I-tunes calculates the average rating from the individual file ratings.

      Share
  6. [...] more at The Apple Blog Categories: theAppleBlog Tags: Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment [...]

    Share
  7. This is excellent! I used to have to have two smart playlists to make a mix for my iPhone, now I can finally get rid of one of them. And I’m sure it’s going to come in handy in many other ways, but that’s the most obvious one right now..

    Share
  8. [...] iTunes 9: Smart Playlists Are Now Smarter by jesse ~ September 16th, 2009. Filed under: Apple, iPhone, iPhone/iPod Touch Tools, iTunes. “Smart Playlists in iTunes have always been a powerful way to create specific playlists to mee… [...]

    Share
  9. This is a huge improvement over the previous Smart Playlists function! In the past I have created “base playlists” to filter out holiday music or PDFs. Then I would use the base playlist to build actual interesting playlists. Now it can all be done at once! Wonder if I will sit down and revise all of them or just fiddle here and there…

    Blondepianist, I also use a similar technique to to create more refined playlists. I enjoy music with a lounge-y vibe but the genre may be electronic, soundtrack, alternative, etc. So, I place lounge in the comment field and create a playlist using “Comments” “contains” “lounge”.

    Finally, thanks mhglover! Those are all great suggestions! I am a huge fan of having Smart Playlists swap music off my iPhone after I listen to it today so I am a big fan of “Last Played” is not in the last two weeks.

    Share
  10. [...] Smart Playlists in iTunes have always been a powerful way to create specific playlists to meet your needs, from creating a rotating fresh playlist for syncing to an iDevice to creating a specific playlist for a party. Being able to say “give me my music that hasn’t been played in the last month, that is of at least 320kbps and is rated 5 stars” is pretty sweet. ● More from: theappleblog.com [...]

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post