Music has come a long way in the last decade. I remember when in junior high and high school when taking the bus from school, for sporting events, walking home or just in class listening to my Discman I’d have to carry along all my favorite CD’s and being the music enthusiast I am, that means a lot of CD’s. If you wanted a “mix” then, that meant you went through songs from CD’s and on your computer and burnt a “mix” CD. Boy am I glad things have progressed. Now, iTunes (which revolutionized music, sharing and how we listen to music in itself) has a Genius function that automatically makes music mixes for us based on the types of music we have downloaded in our libraries. The best part of all this is that we can sync these playlists and music selections to our iPods, iPhones and virtually any other portable media or device.

Now to the meat and potatoes. One of the less known, and in my opinion, most useful functions within iTunes is the Smart Playlist. What is a Smart Playlist? We are all familiar with our standard playlists. A list of songs that we create for a party, or to workout, or for relaxation. Basically a grouping of favorite songs, a similar sound or genre, or artist for that matter. Let’s take for example you have a Gym playlist. You’ve added all sorts of good stuff to it and can’t go to the gym without it. One day you decide to download the new Rage Against the Machine album but when you get to the gym, it’s missing from your playlist. Only when you go back to iTunes and add the newly acquired music to your playlist does it appear on your playlist for the Gym. That’s kind of a hassle, right? What if I told you that a Smart Playlist is there to solve problems like these and keep those favorite playlists up to date? It’s very easy and you can make them as complex or as simple as you wish.

  1. Within iTunes choose File > New Smart Playlist… (On Windows: Control + Alt + N)
  2. The following box will appear:
  3. Choose a rule that fits your playlist. For example we want all Rage Against the Machine songs. Fill in a rule like the following. The first rule says to match any song in the Music Library where the Artist field contains the words Rage Against The Machine. The second rule says to match any song which Title (Name) contains Rage Against The Machine (for those songs by other artists that are featuring Rage Against The Machine)
  4. Click OK and it will appear in the left navigation pane of iTunes along with all your other Playlists. That’s it!

The best part of the Smart Playlist is, as long as you have the Live Updating checked, whenever you download, rip or add any new content fitting your rules those songs will be added to your Smart Playlist without you doing a thing. One example for my personal collection is for the Rolling Stones. I have several songs, but I also have a lot of vinyl’s that I am slowly but surely converting to digital format and adding to my library. So now whenever I import a new record recording it automatically adds those tracks to my Rolling Stones playlist and anything I sync after that also gets that update.

You can use this for artists, genres, albums, titles and just about anything else you can create a rule for.  Give it a try!