5 Smart Playlists That Make iTunes Worth Using

5 Smart Playlists That Make iTunes Worth Using

One of the few advantages iTunes (and Winamp and Windows Media Player) has over Spotify, Rdio and other streaming services is support for smart playlists. Thanks to the wealth of metadata stored by Apple's digital content behemoth, you can juggle your tracks around in all kinds of ways.

To set up a smart playlist, open iTunes and go to File > New > Smart Playlist. Here are five examples of simple set-ups that can some variety to your listening experience. Make sure to tick the Live updating box in each case so the playlist changes with your listening history.

Listen to favourite songs you haven't heard in a while

5 Smart Playlists That Make iTunes Worth Using

This playlist requires some preparation on your part -- namely that your favourite songs are stamped with a four or five-star rating. Set up a smart playlist where the Rating is greater than three stars but the Last Played date is more than six months ago (you may have to vary this depending on the size of your library). You'll then be served up all those stand-out tracks that haven't appeared on shuffle for a while.

Listen to mostly new music (and some old classics)

5 Smart Playlists That Make iTunes Worth Using

This one requires two playlists: a long one (say twenty tracks) filled with songs from recent years, and a short one (say five tracks) filled with songs from before a certain year. For both playlists, set the Last Played value to songs that haven't been heard in the past week to keep it turning over with new music. Create a new smart playlist where Playlist equals the new playlist or the old playlist, set it to shuffle, and your mix is ready. You could do the same with artists, genres and so on.

Listen to tunes that have been neglected for too long

5 Smart Playlists That Make iTunes Worth Using

This is one that many of you might already have set up. If you create a smart playlist with a single condition that the Media Kind is Music, you can limit it to 50 or so tracks, sorted by those that are least often played (rather than by random, which is the default). Sync this playlist with your iPhone, iPod or iPad and you can give some much-needed attention to those tracks languishing at the corners of your library. If you want the list to re-populate as you listen to it, filter out songs listened to in the past week.

Listen to the songs you love the most

5 Smart Playlists That Make iTunes Worth Using

Besides star ratings, how can you work out which songs you love the most? One way is sorting them by the number of times they have been skipped. Set up a smart playlist to queue up songs that have rarely been skipped or haven't been skipped recently to find the tunes you can't get enough of. As long as you switch on the live updating option, you can click the next button in iTunes to instantly banish a track from this VIP list and move on to something more interesting. You'll have to adjust the values accordingly, depending on how skip-happy you are in general.

Listen to album tracks rather than hit singles

5 Smart Playlists That Make iTunes Worth Using

Sure, you know about the star rating in iTunes, but did you know you can apply an album rating too? This gives you the ability to distinguish great tracks from bad albums, bad tracks from good albums, and so on. There are a number of ways you can use these filters together: to listen to all the songs that aren't four or five-star rated but which appear on well-liked albums, for example. You can then rediscover some of the album tracks and b-sides from your favourite artists.

There are a huge number of possibilities when it comes to smart playlists, and we've only really scratched the surface here -- if you've got a combination you like using, we'd love to hear about it below.

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    There is absolutely zero reason (good or otherwise) to ever use iTunes. It is possibly one of the worst pieces of software, ever.

      True, and yet Microsoft Word makes it look like software nirvana!

      Agree. I'm not sure if iTunes is magically better on OS X, but on Windows it's user interface, functional capability and overall performance sucks worse than shareware from a 10 year old. It is the worst piece of software on my Windows computer, but I have to tolerate it because of my iPad. It seems that the iTunes development team just don't give a crap about it - they're ok to just shove out bloatware (70Mb is way to big for a media player) and give us the finger, because you have to use it if you have an iPhone or iPad.

      Very true. The earliest versions were pure excrement and they have since improved a lot over that but it's still one of the very worst music programs out there.

      Agree with you, dre_. What do you use/suggest as a replacement?

    sucks to be a windows user :) LOL !

    WORST software ?? really? next to windows BOB? windows 8 ? Vista ? dos 6.0 ? IE 6.0 some perspective is needed from some people.


    Last edited 06/10/14 2:32 pm

      Need I remind you of the Newton, Apple Maps, QuickTake, Pippin, eWorld, Performa and iTunes?

      The list goes on and on and on.

        None of those are anywhere near as bad as the terrible pain and money taken by micro sloth on those horrible products ! That's like comparing a pin prick to a nuclear bomb !

    Actually I find that Google Play music is pretty awesome for the playlist abilities, far, far more intuitive and simple than itunes.
    Google Pla music started out very ropey and buggy but it's improved leaps and bounds since then. If only itunes had improved that much in the time it's been around...

      Google Play on my phone is constantly connecting to the internet for music which annoys me because it shouldn't need due to myself transferring all music onto the device. Google Play on PC is even worst, slow and clunky. Much prefer iTunes.

        I haven't had experiences like either of those. The earlier versions were buggy like that though.
        What you describe doesn't sound like the overly complex, clunky design issues that are bad about itunes, rather it sounds like an earlier buggy version of Google play music or problems specific to your own device. I'd check again to see if that was fixed now, or subit a bug report if it's ongoing.
        I even have it working ok on the first generation galaxy tab on Android Gingerbread, so it's pretty robust now.

        If it's slow on your PC that comes down to your web browser. Is it a very old PC with an older Web Browser?

    I used to use iTunes for ages, just switched to MusicBee and I ain't looking back! Probably the best freeware music library software I've come across so far. It has the same playlist features as iTunes, without the crippling performance and resource usage as iTunes.

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