iTunes Smart Playlists | August 20, 2005

I listen to my iTunes music library almost constantly when I’m working. I currently have 3476 songs in iTunes which works out at around 12.4 days worth of music. This may seem a lot, but considering how much time I spend on the computer, I burn through tracks with surprising ease.

One of the problems with this is keeping your music collection interesting. You’ll want to hear newer songs more often than older ones, yet at the same time you’ll want to make sure that the old music doesn’t get lost. You want to hear your favourite songs slightly more often than everything else, but you don’t want to keep listening to the same old tracks over and over again. As such you need to make sure your playlists have a good degree of variety as well as and a high churn rate.

The way to achieve this is by utilising smart playlists, however it can be quite difficult getting the right balance.

The first thing I’ve done is organise my music into genre related playlists such as Indie, Dance, Chill etc. You could do this using a smart playlist and matching the genre to a specified keyword. However I find that the predefined genres tend to be pretty poorly defined. For instance I’ve got several Thievery Corporation CD’s as well as lots of random tracks from compilation albums. As such, their music is variously categorised as Electronica/Dance, Rock, Soundtrack, Reggae and Blues. Of course the other option would be to update the genre info, but there honestly aren’t enough hours in the day.

Next I’ve created a series of “base” smart playlists that will form the foundations of my proper playlists. Because I won’t actually listen to any of these base playlists I’ve given them a prefix of XXX so they appear out of the way at the bottom of my smart playlist list.

The first of these smart playlists is called XXX Highest Rated. As the name suggests, this playlist creates a list of the highest rated songs in my library; in this case songs with 4 or more stars.

XXX Highest Rated Playlist

I don’t want to keep listening to the same songs over and over again, so I have limited this playlist to songs I haven’t heard for a week.

Rating the songs in your iTunes library is a really good idea as it gives you the ability to create all kinds of preference based smart playlists. If you did want to spend a weekend or two rating your songs, you can easily set up a smart playlist to show you every song without a rating. Unfortunately I can’t be bothered going through all my songs, so I tend just to rate my favourites.

With so many songs, it’s easy for your newer music to get passed over. As such I’ve also created a XXX Latest Additions smart playlist.

Latest Additions Playlist

This playlist is comprised of music added in the last 8 weeks. Obviously you can tweak the time depending on the size of your library and how often you add new tracks. I don’t want to keep hearing the same songs over and over again, however I do want to hear newer songs more frequently than older ones. Because of this I’m limiting songs in this playlist to ones I haven’t heard in only 2 days, as opposed to a week

You’ll also notice that I’m excluding audio books and radio stations from this playlist. There is nothing more irritating than the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy or a learn to speak French CD appearing in the middle of a playlist.

As well as wanting to hear the latest additions, I also want to hear stuff I’ve not listened to in a while. To accomplish this I’ve created a XXX Not Often Played playlist.

Not Often Played playlist

This playlist is made up of songs that have been played less than 4 times and haven’t been listened to in 6 months or more. This is a nice way of getting to hear older music that you haven’t heard often. Obviously the longer you use iTunes, the higher the play count will need to be.

So now I’ve got three playlists, one for my favourite songs, one for the new stuff and one for the older and less played stuff. To complete my base smart playlists I need to create one that deals with everything else. In this case I’m calling it XXX Fresh, because I want to make sure this playlist is full of fresh tracks that I haven’t heard for a couple of weeks.

Fresh playlist

If this playlist just contained songs not played in the last couple of weeks, it would be pretty large and the songs within it would have too much weighting in their favour. In order to put more weighting on the other playlist, I’m limiting this one to only 1000 songs. However I don’t want these 1000 songs to include those in my other playlists, so am excluding them.

With these base playlists in place, I created a new playlist called XXX Mix. This playlist basically brings all the other playlist together in one uber smart playlist.

Mix Playlist

This playlist contains a pool of around 2000 songs. Half of the songs come from my favourites, latest additions and old songs, the other half are songs I’ve not listened to in the last couple of weeks. If you wanted to get more scientific, you could actually set limits on all of the base playlists. For instance, if you wanted to hear twice as many new songs as favourites you could limit the new songs to 600 and the favourites to 300.

I want a way to skip over songs I don’t want to listen to, and I can do this by selecting the “Match only checked songs” option. If a song is playing that I don’t want to listen to, I can simply uncheck it, and iTunes skips to the next song. However periodically you’ll need to go through and re-check these songs or you’ll end up never hearing them again. To make this easier I’ve set up a couple of utility smart playlists.

My Checked playlist is simply a playlist that contains all the checked songs.

Checked playlist

My Unchecked playlist then uses this to exclude any checked songs, creating a list of unchecked songs.

Unchecked playlist

As well as un-checking songs I don’t want to currently listen to, I’ll also un-check songs that I don’t like or are damaged in some way. I can then later go though my Unchecked playlist and delete any songs I no longer want.

Here is a quick tip that frustrated me for a while, so I thought I’d pass it on. Selecting a song in a playlist and hitting backspace simply removes that song from said playlist. If you want to remove the song from iTunes you need to do Option (Alt) Backspace. And if you want to delete the song from your computer you can do Command (Apple key), Option (Alt) and Backspace.

Anyway, back to the XXX Mix playlist. You could happily listen to this playlist as is, although I’d probably choose to limit it to 30 tracks chosen at random, just to keep the sequence shuffled and fresh. However I prefer to listen to my music based on genre, so have created several more smart playlists called @Indie Mix, @Dance Mix, @Chill Mix etc. The @ prefix keeps these main playlist at the top of your smart playlist list, although you could equally use a colon, a full stop or an underscore to achieve the same effect.

Each of these main smart playlists look the same, so I’ll only show you the @Indie Mix playlist.

Indie playlist

Here I’m simply creating a subset of my main mix playlist that only contains Indie music, and am limiting this playlist to 30 songs chosen at random from a much larger pool of songs.

And there you have it. That’s how I use smart playlists keep my music collection interesting and organised. However I know there are many ways to skin a cat, so I’d be interested to hear how you organise your music collection in iTunes.

Posted at August 20, 2005 4:20 PM


Peter Parkes said on August 20, 2005 7:44 PM

We seem to have surprisingly similar methods!

Two things though:

- I have a second generation iPod, which doesn’t have proper support for podcasts (ie. it just lumps them together will all my other tracks) so I make sure to exclude them from my main mix playlist

- I use Quicksilver, and have set up keyboard triggers to run Applescripts, which let me rate my tracks without having to switch to iTunes

Matt Dempsey said on August 20, 2005 7:51 PM

An interesting concept, might have to try that. Thanks for the tips :).

Jenn said on August 20, 2005 8:01 PM

I found my favorite playlist there. There are quite a few really awesome ones for the picking.

Zach Inglis said on August 20, 2005 9:11 PM

Heh. Quite a nice find.

Well done Apple

andr3 said on August 20, 2005 10:07 PM

wow! Those are great tips!!

I’ve used smart playlist before, but not in this fashion. Why didn’t i think of this?

Usually I just put some playlist together on the fly, but that’s the most ineffective way of managing your music. lol

Great post.

PJ said on August 20, 2005 11:39 PM

Thank you! I have been wanting this exact thing from my playlists, and never knew a lot about the smart playlists feature in itunes. After seeing this application of that feature I am totally won over by itunes now.

Faruk Ateş said on August 21, 2005 12:11 AM

Seems very interesting… I’m gonna have to give this a try. :-)

Tomorrow. Hehe.. bad thing to start on at 2am ;-)

Dave S. said on August 21, 2005 12:33 AM

That’s almost exactly the same setup as I had running for a while. Loved it. Then I moved my tunes over to my secondary partition and lost my ratings. I can’t be arsed to go back and re-do ‘em now, so a word to the wise: pick a partition and stick with it.

Andy Budd said on August 21, 2005 1:32 AM

Your most played songs will probably be pretty close to your favourite songs, so you could create a “most played” playlist, and then rate everything in it as a 4. That way you’ll at least be able to start off again at a reasonable base line, and tweak your favs as you go along.

stilist said on August 21, 2005 4:01 AM

This image and explanation doesn’t really give a complete idea of how I use smart playlists, but it’s a basic idea.

My collection isn’t quite as large as yours, but I have over 2000 songs, so it’s decent-sized. I use grouping more than anything for organisation, since I’m very strict with my genres (I’ve only added two to the default list), and I don’t use stars outside of what I put in the grab.

Roger Johansson said on August 21, 2005 6:38 AM

I’ve never bothered with playlists of any kind. I just make sure everything has proper ID3 tags and set iTunes and my iPod to shuffle by album. That’s it :-)

Ghazzog the Horrible said on August 21, 2005 7:26 AM

Thanks for these awesome iTunes ideas. I shall proceed to create some smart playlists at once!

Rob McMichael said on August 21, 2005 10:27 AM

I have been trying to find the best way to do this for a while. Firstly I started when I got my laptop and moved only my favorite tunes over from my PC, rated them all, deleted the ones I didn’t like and added album art etc. However my hard drive crashed and I had to start again.

I am also about to set off traveling for 6months and upgraded to a 30GB iPod (managed to get one before they ditched and went with 60 or 20). I decided that the best way to keep it fresh on my iPod would be to have playlists based on rating (as you can change the rating on the ipod). Therefore I can listen to 3* and above and then drop songs to 2 stars if I get sick of them. I also have it on play highly rated more often, so songs I like to listen to a lot can be bumped up.

The other thing I do is add comments to songs or albums, for example you may get songs in Classical, Hip Hop or electronic that are all quite chilled. Therefore I add a chilled comment to the tracks and then build a relaxed playlist on that. This is also handy for mixed tracks (just add mix to the comment for the album then exclude them from playlists).

Another tip is to exclude tracks over 15 minutes as I sometimes have continuos mixes or radio shows that I don’t want included.

Great post though Andy, love the idea of playlists based on playlists :) This should be helpful for others, as I have seen people with all their albums as playlists :(

Matt Sephton said on August 21, 2005 11:35 AM

Hi Andy,

The first “checked” image seems wrong to me as it’s specifying songs by bitrate?

Also, I use PTH Notifier (email me if you’d like this discontinued app) to rate my songs with hot keys as I am listening.

Alternative applications to do this are SizzlingKeys and Synergy which each have their own pros and cons.

Andy Budd said on August 21, 2005 4:38 PM

You need to have at least one criteria so that’s a dummy. Basically all songs will have a bit rate greater than zero. It’s the “match only checked songs” option below that does the trick.

Rob Weychert said on August 21, 2005 4:45 PM

Wow, Andy, this is really quite ingenious! Like Roger, I prefer to listen to whole albums at a time, but I see no reason why a setup like this couldn’t work for albums as well. And of course, my neurotic devotion to properly tagging all of my MP3s would allow me even more specificity… :)

andr3 said on August 21, 2005 5:01 PM

Does anyone know if there’s a way of rating songs through hotkeys without switching to iTunes for windows? I’ve searched the web, but haven’t find anything.

So far, these playlists — or pretty similar, i tuned mine a bit — are proving to be amazing. Have heard songs i haven’t heard in a looong while, and haven’t skipped that many. cool. :)

stilist said on August 21, 2005 6:06 PM

I actually went through and set up these lists today, and it turns out my `valid songs’ category was more useful than expected. Originally it was just ones that I figured were ok to play with family around, but I’ve changed it to filter out videos, internet radio, books/spoken, and anything else I don’t want. I just add that in as a `is in playlist’, and I don’t have to worry about filtering for the more important lists.

The only problem I’ve found with the setup you have if the library is rebuilt. Every now and again I accumulate too many invalid links for songs, and I’ll just wipe the library; that messes up the Last Added time a bit. Otherwise, this seems to be an excellent way of going about things.

Bob Maguire said on August 21, 2005 8:06 PM

andr3: I use iTunesKeys for when I use iTunes at work.

A great way to rate songs as you listen to them is to have a smart playlist that live updates with songs with a rating of 0, then use Party Shuffle to play them.

Josh Fletcher said on August 22, 2005 5:49 AM

hmm, you’ve given me a lot to think about. i’ve collected music for years, but have only just moved over to iTunes. i’ve got over 8,300 songs, so i have the problem of not getting through my music, and i tend to start listening to the same songs over and over. so your post definitely helps, and hopefully i’ll start to hear all those hidden songs i haven’t heard for years… :D

arb said on August 22, 2005 6:10 AM

That’s very similar to what I do.

First of all, I have a playlist which I call “zzzz: Only Music”, which excludes ebooks, radio programs, podcasts, etc. Then all of my “feeder” playlists have “Playlist is zzzz: Only Music” as their first criteria - that way I can add/remove genres to the “exclusion” list and have the changes instantly filter through the various other playlists.

Instead of filtering out songs based on the last played date, I do things slightly differently. My feeder playlists are as follows:

Then I have a “mix” playlist that selects 200 from the “100 *” playlists at random. This structure gives some bias to favourites and recently added music, while still selecting a smattering of other, recently unplayed music. Of course, the number selected in each playlist can be tweaked to create the right balance, but for me 100 of each seems about right.

Gordon said on August 22, 2005 8:11 AM

I’ve read a similar method, which I now use, but there are some good ideas in there. I wonder if Dave Allen realised how far reaching his use of “@” would become! ;-)

Ian Lloyd said on August 22, 2005 10:07 AM

I do almost exactly the same as you, Andy, in the hope of getting to hear older tunes. 80% of my 3,500 or so songs are rated, genres are as accurate as they can be and I have playlists that filter out language courses and iTrip station tuning and so on. My wish, though would be to have greater flexibility with playlists, such that I could choose songs based on other playlists (e.g. Select all songs from ‘not played recently’ playlist that are 4* or above). If only it were possible to write your own custom SQL-like selections rather than be limited to the drop-down menu items. Surely someone could have a hack at that and write a more powerful smart playlists menu?

Andy Budd said on August 22, 2005 12:33 PM

But Ian, that’s exactly what I’m doing. Creating playlists from playlists. So you already can set a smart playlist that says “Select all songs from ‘not played recently’ playlist that are 4* or above”

Matthew Steiner said on August 22, 2005 6:18 PM

Finally! I thought I was the only techy to care this much about playlists. I have done very similiar measures. Have found a couple bugs. The “Played in the last X days” filter doesn’t always work and the “ratings” field doesn’t always hold. This may be because I connect my iPod to about 4 different computers. I know for sure when connecting to multiple machines you need to have iTunes setup to manually updating.

I could go on and on about this topic with successes and failures, but for the most part I’ve got it tweaked as best can be.

Niels said on August 23, 2005 5:49 AM

Hello iTunes experts, can someone please explain the purpose of the Grouping attribute.

wookie said on August 23, 2005 3:03 PM

I’ve been using smart playlists like this for a few years now and barely listen to whole albums for more than a few months after I get them. Smart playlists organised by genre and rating act like a personalised radio station - also great for parties over Airport Express (If you have a Bluetooth phone, use Salling Clicker to skip anything that comes up and doesn’t fit the mood, great party trick too ;o) I tend not to filter by date played though, with over 9000 rated tracks I find that I get a very good mix of old and new anyway.

The biggest issue I have is in coming up with a rating strategy that ensures I get what I want in a smart playlist. I’ve never been able to come up with a scale that works across artists and genres - otherwise I’d have to rate every Tool track as 5 in comparison to, say, Incubus - which would be a nonsense as not only are some Tool tracks better than others, but why limit Incubus to less than 5 just because I like Tool more…? I currently rate tracks based on the average for the act in question - for example a track that lives up to expectation from a particular act would get a 3, slightly better than average a 4, with 5 reserved for truly cracking stuff (and the inverse for 1 and 2 star). The problem with this is that a 5 star playlist will contain tracks that in direct comparison I’d never rate as equal, the problem is compounded for mixed genre playlists. Anyone have any rating strategies that overcome this, or maybe a way of weighting acts using playlists to get around the problem…?

Also, for a long time I would apply genres based on artist but again this throws up some oddities as many artists cross genres (Bowie is a good example). I’m currently reclassifying my library on a per-track basis and it’s working out pretty well so far.

dave s - If I recall correctly iTunes stores all your ratings in an xml file in the iTunes folder. I have successfully restored all my ratings in the past from a backup of this file and assume it would work fine when switching partitions or HD’s…?

andr3 - I can’t think of a hotkeys solution, but you can ctrl-click the iTunes dock icon and rate from there…

Finally, a cute little cosmetic trick; the little star icon used to rate tracks in iTunes is actually a font character and is supported in playlist names. Just cut & paste from the system character palette to get nice little rows of stars in your playlist names. :o)

Soleio said on August 25, 2005 6:12 AM


It’s a shame that you’re replacing the Lucida Sans stars (★) with X’s. I think they especially look great on the pod.

Nonetheless, thanks for some nice recommendations. Being a smartlist connoisseur myself, here are a couple of my personal favorites:

4 Star Rookies
The 25 least-often played 4-star tracks.

Recently Noted
500 MB of the most recently added 3- to 5-star songs.

Whole Lotta Girls
100 of the least recently played tracks with “girl” in the Song Name or Album Name.

Deuces Denied
Songs that are Track #2’s with 3+ stars, limited to the 25 least recently played.

ErnDiggy said on August 26, 2005 3:51 PM

Great pointers and good use of screenshots. Thanks.

oun said on August 29, 2005 1:19 AM

i like this iTUne

Steve said on October 5, 2005 1:20 AM

I setup the same SPLs with the X_mix and then combine that with a genre. I hardly have any songs rated and I have 2700 songs.

But I’m finding that for, say, my Rock/Pop SPL, which contains 30 songs but only 13 artists. I’m getting alot of double and tripples of the same artist from the SAME album.

I only listen to my tunes through my iPod at work, so after each day I come home and resync (Win, latest iTunes, Gen 2 iPod) and I do get new songs.

I looked in the X_mix and there are about 220 songs (out of 1800)with genre Rock/Pop and 31 artists.

Maybe I just need to stick with it for a couple weeks to wait for the songs to ‘age’ and the SPL to get more diverse?

or maybe adding a genre filter on only 220 songs is to narrow of a selection.

sorry for the rambling… Create site!

Sean McManus said on November 6, 2005 3:48 PM

Thanks for this article. My smart playlists have been limited so far to year groups and you’ve shown me how I can create much more sophisticated playlists (particularly by combining playlists).

Howard said on January 15, 2006 7:51 AM

this was a terrific mentorship! Thanks, it never occurred that lists could be nested that way.
I’m enjoying my music more than ever after installing wired/wireless speakers throughout my house, yard and garage.
I’m actually listening to things abandoned for years and embracing new stuff as well.
This control so suits my changing mood, I find time passing in a totally different frame.

Howard said on January 15, 2006 7:54 AM

I dig the pix of Helter Skelter in Brighton as well. I was there in ‘80 and recall a nearby grafitti, “Keith Moon is God.”

Alvaro said on March 6, 2006 12:53 AM

Thaks for the information Andy. Question: I”m using the Mix list to sync to my ipod. Do you know why that list has an exclamation mark when the ipod is plugged in?

Calbruc said on March 16, 2006 4:18 AM

How about a playlist of the last 10 (or however many) albums added? Not the last however many songs, or last bit of time, but just a playlist of the last few whole albums added to the Library. That’d be a great way to keep track of new additions for me.

s said on March 16, 2006 5:40 AM

That’s pretty good advice…

What’s annoying it that itune’s playcount only goes up if you listen to a song from beginning to end, so if you skip forward it won’t register - this makes it hard to filter out the songs most listened to…

mel my finger said on March 16, 2006 6:03 AM

Instead of using “@” to bump up the playlist names, I use a combination of periods and colons:

.: First Tier Playlist
:. Second Tier Playlists
:. Second Tier
:: Third Tier Playlists

And then to bump music to the bottom I use an omega sign:

Ω Fresh
Ω Unrated

seanw01 said on March 16, 2006 6:39 AM

If you don’t want to edit the genre of your mp3s manually, there’s a program out there called FixTunes ( that can edit your id3 tags for you using the company’s own database. It looks up your tracks, based on their filenames and current id3 tags and provides you with its highest rated match. A task that would take a human 100s of hours to do manually can be done overnight with this program. The only downside is that to get the full version, you have to fork over $25. A small price to pay for a very handy tool.

Jai said on March 16, 2006 7:39 AM

I’ve been doing something very similiar in tiering my smart playlists to create unique/interesting playlists that I think of as my ipod music stations. I even have gone as far as to put a “v” in front of what I call my vault playlists like you have with your “xxx” in front of your base playlists. Everyone has always called me nuts for doing what I’ve set up on my ipod (I don’t think they quite understood it) and I’m glad to hear someone else is doing pretty much the same thing I have been doing. So I’m not nuts afterall.

¥€$ said on March 16, 2006 8:53 AM

Ctrl + Suppr

Ben said on March 16, 2006 2:07 PM

I really like this method. One of the issues I have is that I have a load of bad tracks.

To get round this I set a bad track as a track in the ‘On-The-Go’ play list (holding down the iPod centre button). Using your method you could exclude all On-The-Go tracks and then delete them at a later stage.

Like the web site Andy - hows Brighton?


Obley said on March 16, 2006 3:58 PM

I used nested playlists like this, try playing your “final” list in the party shuffle as Bob Maguire suggests. Mixes things up quite nicely

andr3: if your on windows, minimize to teh task bar, the right click menu alows you to rate the current song

The exclimation mark on “ipod loaded playlists” means the playlist has nested lists that arenot also synced with the ipod. I have foudn that the songs will not update till you sync again. This is the number one reason I woudlike to see a SQL like interface so I can apply the rules to the current library.

hecklerspray said on March 16, 2006 5:08 PM

Good stuff Andy.

One thing you missed is how to identify and ditch rubbish, or corrupted songs.

I treat CDs with a total lack of respect, so many have become scratched up over the years, and don’t rip so well.

Others are those freebie CDs you’d get on the front of Uncut or Mojo or wherever, which contain all kinds of dross, and maybe two or three decent songs.

This is when the LONE STAR trick pays off.

Allocate just one star whenever you hear a song you hate, or one that breaks up on you. Then cull them to free up space and reduce your intolerance levels.

The LONE STAR, people. A shitty star.

PoorBC said on March 16, 2006 5:58 PM

You might want to change the XXX prefix to ZZZ now that there are videos…might not look too good when someone is looking over your shoulder and sees all your favorite XXX selections…

Tanner said on March 16, 2006 6:54 PM

Great idea, I was banging my head into the problem of playlists being unable to contain playlists.

This is the solution I missed. Thanks for writing it up and posting the excellent walk through.

Dan said on March 16, 2006 7:31 PM

This was a great ‘tutorial’, thanks!

Nathaniel said on March 16, 2006 7:46 PM

Good article — what I found amazing is that you developed almost exactly the same system I’ve been using. I’ve been making base playlists with the prefix “ZZZ” for about 2 years now, I suppose great minds really do think alike! :P

elbuzzard said on March 16, 2006 8:18 PM

Instead of using XXX to keep your base playlists out of the way, you could also create a new folder called “Base Lists” or whatever in your playlist listings, put them in there and collapse it.

Mike K. said on March 16, 2006 9:06 PM

That’s a great bunch of tips. I haven’t used that combination of the “Last Played” and “Date Added” but I have spent an absurd amount of time massaging my metadata. The Grouping field is my primary method of building playlists while I stick with the broadest Genres.

For instance, I have stuff in the genres “Alternative & Punk” “Electronica/Dance” and “Rock” that have all been given the grouping “Post-Punk” So I can just build playlists “Grouping CONTAINS Post-Punk” or whatever.

By using CONTAINS in the Smart Playlist, I can assign multiple groupings. For instance, most of my R.E.M. albums have the grouping “Alternative Pop/Rock” but not all have “Jangle Pop” or “College Rock.” The Smart Playlist Grouping CONTAINS College Rock is different from Grouping CONTAINS Alternative Pop/Rock. Or I can say Genre IS Alternative & Punk AND Grouping DOES NOT CONTAIN Hardcore—I call that one Punk-Light.

The key to success with Groupings is to use a consistent vocabulary. I’ve borrowed a lot of terms from the database, but I also have several of my own.

I’m also a big fan of using the My Rating field. When I add new tracks I assign everything three stars then tweak them up or down as I listen.

Berko said on March 16, 2006 9:10 PM

Niels, Grouping is very helpful in classifying classical music. For instance, if a symphony has four movements, rather than having the track called Symphony No. 40 - I. Allegretto, it simply gets called I. Allegretto and then the grouping gets set to Symphony No. 40. HTH.

Thomas said on March 17, 2006 3:00 AM

Have you tried TuneTag yet? It appends tags to the comment field in the id3 tag. Works in conjunction with Quicksilver.

I’ve been using it for the past few months, and it works really well for assigning moods, rock-out levels, etc…

cschappa said on March 17, 2006 3:42 PM

When I make my xxx Highest Rated and try to add the stars if will not let me—it’s just blank. I have itunes version on W2k. I thought it was just broken with this version but my friend upgraded to the same version on his XP laptop and the stars are there. Anyone else have this problem?


Jimmy said on March 17, 2006 6:02 PM

A suggestion for “rating” strategy. I don’t rate the songs based on how much I like them, but instead on how frequently I want to hear them. I use this method because I can change it from my iPod and utilize the “Play higher rated songs more frequently” in Party Shuffle.

Since it represents a frequency, it is artist/genre/etc independent. I’m now going to implement the suggested Smart Playlist ideas mentioned here and see how well the two work together.

Kyle said on March 17, 2006 6:44 PM

You wrote, “I can’t be bothered going through all my songs, so I tend just to rate my favourites.”

I’ve got almost 9000 songs in my iTunes library, and when I upgraded my iMac last year, I lost all of the ratings that I had put so much time into. I was in the same boat as you.

Then I found a little Applescript called Rate Me, Rate Me. The script runs in the background, and whenever a song that is unrated starts playing, a little pop-up window comes up in front of whatever you’re doing and asks you to give the song a rating. With just a few keyboard clicks, you can set the rating, close the window, and get back to whatever you’re doing.

Getting through a couple thousand songs will take a while, of course, but even slow progress is progress :-)

JulesLt said on March 17, 2006 8:16 PM

That’s a really nice tutorial.

I’ve already set up combined playlists like that (recent albums I’ve not listened to much) and I’m also a dab hand with Oracle so I’m quite good at constructing queries from sets.

This takes it to a whole new level and gives me ideas how I can achieve what has long been a frustration of mine with iTunes - basically that you can only overwrite the comments and genre tags rather than add to them - and I find the standard tags provided with MP3 files lacking.

I’ve always wanted the ability to create a playlist of something like ‘post-punk artists, Manchester, 1979-92’. I’d always thought the only way to do that would be individually tagging each album with ALL the relevant search terms.

You’ve shown me that I can achieve this aim easily with Playlists (especially now we can have playlist folders). Now I just need to tackle a library on 6700 tracks.

Kent said on March 18, 2006 10:08 PM

Thanks for doing this. Great little tool for helping to dive through a large iTunes library. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to accomplish this same thing for a while since I have a pretty large selection and can never seem to figure out what to listen too. This is helping me uncover some stuff I even forgot I had. Thanks!!

ninjafury said on March 20, 2006 11:13 PM

Thanks for this. I have 7k+ songs and keeping up with new/old tracks was very hard. This makes it all easy. Nice one…

getgreg said on March 21, 2006 7:40 PM

Great strategy, wow! I’d love to see some iTunes developers playlists, I bet that gets intense.
I also find that it helps to only apply a genre to your favorite music.

Coincidentally, I just finished a little article on my blog about how iTunes should support tags instead of genres.

SweatJunkie said on March 29, 2006 10:49 PM


I’ve been sticking with my old-skool, first gen 5GB ipod, waiting for a new feature that would get me to upgrade. Being able to rate your songs on the ipod and then create smart playlists based on that is the killer feature.

podcasts are nice, radio, itunes integration - yawn. But ratings from the ipod that sync to your PC.

Time to go buy a new ipod.

Thanks for the great step-by-step examples!