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5 Smart Playlists to help you manage your iTunes library

Sang Tang

Smart playlists have been a feature of iTunes since version 3.0 (circa 2002), and they provide a means for you to create automatically-updated playlists that fit a certain criteria. For me, they serve as a hands-off way to stay up-to-date on my latest music and Podcasts, as well as a repository for a certain genre of music. To create a smart playlist, click on "File" and select "New Smart Playlist" (or you can use the command-option-n keyboard shortcut).

If you want a playlist that contains only holiday music, you could specify that the playlist include all songs with either the "Christmas" or "Chanukah" genre tag on it. Because smart playlists auto-update, you needn't worry about adding songs to it: as long as the track's tags meet the criteria, it is automatically included in the playlist -- unless, of course, you choose the "limit to" option, which limits the the tracks in the playlist based on your choosing.

Read more for five of my favorite smart playlists, as well as criteria for how to create them.


Recently added Podcasts: This Smart Playlist allows me to stay up-to-date with my Podcasts.

  • Match all of the following rules
  • Media Kind is "Podcast"
  • Date added is in "Last 7 days" (or whichever date range you prefer)

Recently added music: This Smart Playlist lets me listen to the music I've recently purchased, downloaded, or ripped.

  • Match all of the following rules
  • Media Kind is "Music"
  • Date added is in "Last 2 Weeks" (or whichever date range you prefer)

My favorite songs: This Smart Playlist allows me to listen to some of my favorite songs, based on play count.

  • Match all of the following rules
  • Media Kind if "Music"
  • Play Count is greater than "50" (or whatever play count you desire)

The genre-based Smart Playlist: For that "Jazzy," "Classical" or "Grungy" listening mood you happen to be in.

  • Match all of the following rules
  • Media Kind if "Music"
  • Genre is "Jazz" (or whatever genre you prefer)

The genre and year-based Smart Playlist: For listening to a genre and specific period in time that just rocked, i.e., the British Invasion.

  • Match all of the following rules
  • Genre is Alternative (or the genre of your choosing)
  • Click on the ellipsis button (...) and make sure "Any of the following rules" is chosen with the corresponding drop-down menu
  • Year is within the range "1990" to "1999"

Back in 2004, Apple partnered with BMW to release the iPodYourBMW car kit, which at the time was only one of a small handful of kits that allowed you to control your iPod from your car stereo. However, the BMW iPod kit required you to sync your name your playlists "BMW1," "BMW2," "BMW3," "BMW4," and "BMW5" to correspond with the factory radio's preset 1 through 5 buttons (button 6 is reserved for your entire iPod library). For this, Smart Playlists have been a godsend for me.

Readers, tell us about some of the Smart Playlists that you use.

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