Proposed Playlists

Stuck for ideas on how to create smarter Smart Playlists? Sample some of these recipes:

The New Music All the Time playlist

Select New Smart Playlist from iTunes' File menu, and configure the top row of pop-up menus to read Play Count is 0. If you like, enable the Limit To option, and limit the songs in your playlist by number of songs, duration of playlist, or cumulative size of the songs in the playlist (10 GB, for example).

Enable the Live Updating option so that when a song has been played once, it's removed from the playlist.

The iPod mini playlist

When you plug an iPod (that's configured to update automatically) into your computer and your iTunes library contains more music than your iPod can hold, iTunes creates a playlist of music that will fit on your iPod.

iTunes is the tiniest bit discerning about this playlist, in that it includes all songs on an album rather than giving you a taste of each album in your iTunes library.

It's not terribly smart about using space effectively, however. It will, for example, copy AIFF, WAV, and Apple Lossless files to your iPodfiles that take up a lot of space that could be better used for storing more music files in AAC and MP3 format.

For this reason, it's a good idea to create a Smart Playlist that excludes these massive songs and designate this list as the one to use when you update your iPod. To do so, create a series of conditions that read Kind does not contain. This list of conditions would include AIFF, WAV, Apple Lossless, and QuickTime.

You might also want to exclude genres such as Holiday and Children's Music. If you have a lot of music on your computer, and you've rated that music, consider adding a rating condition that reads My Rating is Greater than 3 Stars.

Be sure to limit the size of this playlist with the Limit To option at the bottom of the Smart Playlist window. For an iPod mini, this option should read Limit to 3500 MB selected by Album. (You must use megabytes rather than gigabytes, because the GB field won't accept decimals, as in 3.5 GB.)

When you've created this playlist, select your mini in the Source menu, and click the iPod Preferences button. In the iPod Preferences window that appears, enable the Automatically Update Selected Playlists Only option, select the Smart Playlist you created for your mini, and click OK.

The mini will be updated with your playlistand will continue to be as long as you leave this option selected.

The Monday Morning playlist

On the first day of the work week, it can be difficult to get the juices flowing. What you need is a heart-pumping playlist. Creating such a playlist requires a bit of planning, however. When you next browse through your iTunes music library, keep an ear cocked for tunes that are likely to get your Monday-morning groove on.

When you find one of these tunes, open its Get Info window and enter Monday in the Comments field. When you're ready to compile your playlist, configure the top row of pop-up menus to read Comment is Monday.

Using the Comments field is an excellent way to choose music by mood. Also consider Smart Playlists for raucous Saturday nights and hanging-around-in-bed-'til-noon Sunday mornings.

The Subgenre playlist

Some people find Apple's genres a little broadClassical that encompasses the music of Bach, Schubert, and Glass; and Jazz that lumps together Chet Baker with Sun Ra. Here's a technique for using an album's Comment field to create subgenres:

1. Select all the cuts on an album, and choose Get Info from the File menu to produce the Multiple Song Information window.

2. In the Comments field, enter the appropriate subgenre for that music: Baroque, Bebop, Italian Opera, or Cool Jazz, for example.

3. Repeat for each album in your library.

To put your efforts to work, create a Smart Playlist that uses the Comments field to distinguish musicone that reads Comment Contains Romantic, for example. To create more-specific playlists, add other terms to an album or song's Comment field.

You might enter such terms as piano, concerto, and Classical to place all the piano concertos by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven in a single playlist.

The Back Up Your Purchased Music playlist

If you lose the music you purchase from the iTunes Music Store, you lose it for good and allApple won't allow you to download purchased music a second time without paying for it. For this reason, you should routinely back up your purchased music. This Smart Playlist can help you do it.

1. Configure the top row of pop-up menus to read Kind contains Protected AAC, give it a name (such as Backup Library), and click OK.

This places all the purchased music files in your iTunes music library in a single playlist. (Your Purchased Music playlist should contain these same songs, but if you've reorganized your iTunes Music folder, it's possible that some of the music you purchased won't appear in the Purchased Music folder.)

2. Select Preferences from the iTunes menu on the Mac or from the Edit menu on a Windows PC, and click the Burning tab in the Preferences window to open the Burning window.

3. In the Disc Format portion of the Burning window, select Data CD or DVD, and click OK. This option allows you to burn your iTunes files in their current format, rather than convert them to a format compatible with the audio CD standard (a format that creates much larger files).

4. Select your Backup Library playlist, and click iTunes' Burn button. If the number of files in the playlist exceeds the capacity of a CD-R disc, don't be concerned. iTunes will burn as many files as it can to the first disc and then ask for as many subsequent discs as necessary to back up everything in the playlist.

5. When you've burned that playlist, Control-click it (if you have a Mac) or right-click it (if you have a PC), and select Edit Smart Playlist from the contextual menu.

6. Click the + button next to the top row of pop-up menus, and configure the resulting row of menus to read Date Added is in the Last 2 Weeks.

7. Enable the Live Updating option, and click OK.

8. If you're using a Mac, launch iCal, and create an appointment two weeks hence called Back up iTunes! Configure the appointment so that it recurs every two weeks, and set an alarm that reminds you to back up your playlist.

If you're using a PC, use the calendar within Outlook or an application such as Palm Desktop to create a similar alarm.

If you do lose your purchased music, open iTunes' Preferences window, click the Advanced tab, and be sure that the Copy Files to iTunes Music Folder When Adding to Library option is enabled.

Insert each backup disc, select the Add to Library command from iTunes' File menu, navigate to the disc, and click Open. The purchased music files will be copied from the disc to your computer and placed in your iTunes music library.

The Audiobooks playlist

The fourth-generation iPods place audiobooks in their own special playlist. If you have an earlier iPod, you can fake an audiobooks playlist. Just configure the top row of buttons to read Genre contains audiobooks.

The Likely Hits playlist

Pop albums invariably feature their strongest tracks in the number 1, 2, and 3 positions. To avoid those awful recitation-of-Elizabethan-poetry-over-soupy-strings tracks that often appear in the latter part of the album, configure the top row of pop-up menus to read Track Number is less than 4.

Note: If the album was recorded before 1980 (and, therefore, appeared originally on vinyl), consider creating a list that includes the first, seventh, eighth, and fourteenth tracks (thus grabbing the opening and closing tracks on each side of the record).

The Prog-Rock Lover's playlist

Configure the top row of pop-up menus to read Time is greater than 15 minutes. Click the + button, and configure the next row of pop-up menus to read Genre is Rock (or Genre is AlternRock). Click the + button once again, and configure this row of pop-up menus to read Year is in the Range 1971 to 1979.

Note: If you're not careful, this collection could turn into The Self-Indulgent Noodling Guitar/Bass/Drum Solo from Hell playlist. To guard against this fate, you might want to add one more line of pop-up menus that reads Artist is not Grateful Dead.

The Down-and-Out Country playlist

Country-music lovers know that the classics of their favorite genre have the words whiskey, truck, pool hall, and dog sprinkled throughout the librettoand that the very cream of this crop feature at least one of these words in the song title. With that in mind, create four separate Smart Playlists, each featuring one of the aforementioned magic words.

Take the contents of each Smart Playlist, dump them into a master playlist, pour that playlist into your iPod, strap on the headphones, heave the dog into the truck, and head on over to the pool hall for a couple of whiskies.