Harry's List Architect the future

the holy grail of iTunes smart playlists

Update 8-29-2013 – When creating this post 4 years ago, it did not occur to me that I might someday be left with a text-only backup of my blog. Unfortunately, this is the case and therefore I have lost the most vital information of this post… perhaps some day I will set-up my iTunes the way I used to have it and share some smart-playlists again. Until then, use your imagination!

After meticulously organizing my iTunes Music Library, I have found playlists to be extremely handy—static playlists as well as something relatively new, smart playlists.  For those that are unfamiliar, smart playlists build their contents based on variables and are live updating.  What this means is that you are going to have amazing playlists.

Let me show you how to import your favorite songs you haven’t heard in the last week, month, or how to aggregate your holiday music, tracks with missing tags and your most listened to tracks with the least number of skips.

iTunes organizes playlists in the left-hand column, which is a prominent location for accessing collections of your music.

The first playlist we should make is a base music playlist to build our other playlists off of, filtering out any non-music.  To create a new smart playlist go to the File menu and select New Smart Playlist.  The Mac shortcut to creating a smart playlist is option+command+N or you can hold option while pressing the new playlist button.

This ‘music only’ playlist will collect everything in iTunes except movies, podcasts, audiobooks and radio streams. I keep my audiobook playlists in a playlist folder named audiobooks and that’s what I’m signaling the playlist to avoid. Likewise, I keep my radio streams in a playlist named radio.  Adjust yours according to how you organize your music.  We will use this playlist as a variable in subsequent playlists to filter out non-music.

Let’s start aggregating some awesome music! This playlist collects good tunes that haven’t been listened to in the past week. If you are attentive to rating your music, this playlist will serve you very well.

It’s easy to tailor this to the size of your music library by selecting months, year(s)..

If you have been adding music to your library for years, this next playlist will organize your most listened-to tracks chronologically.

This ‘best of 2008’ playlist has my most played party tunes and favorite sleeping tracks. Along with those one hitters. Just make sure to adjust the playcount variable according to your listening habits.

Have a lot of holiday music? Here’s a smart playlist for you.

By filtering this holiday playlist out of other playlists, you can keep Olde St. Nick out of your everyday servings.

Next we have some really useful smart playlists for organizing your music library. The first is for music you listen to a lot but have not had the chance to rate.

Ratings are extremely handy for isolating tracks you don’t like on albums and you can avoid these tracks in the future by setting a playlist’s rating filter from 4 to 5 stars, like the second playlist above.

The second organization playlist is for missing metadata, for example track and album names. All those songs you imported without an internet connection without tags that are labeled track01, track02 etc..

From this playlist you can easily locate and fix the metadata-less tracks.

The following ‘no skippies’ playlist quickly removes tracks you usually do not want to hear.

And lastly, listen to your music! The following playlist grabs all of your neglected music.