iTunes Smart Playlists

Some say that they could not even imagine 6000 different songs. Well, oddly enough, I am just a few songs shy of 7000 now, taking up about 35GB on my SATA hard drive I am using just for music and video storage.

The thing is, I only have a 30GB iPod, and I listen to it daily at work. Its always nice to have a new mix of music to listen too, as well as a ‘random’ range when available. While many albums I really like the whole album, most of the time I prefer just to listen to a random mix of everything I have.

And this brings up one of my favorite features of iTunes (as well as any other app that supports this concept, including some RSS readers and Outlook 2003, etc). Its all about the smarts! Smart Playlists, Search Folders, etc.

These ‘smart’ ways of organizing things is a really cool concept, to me. Basically, you create a list of items based on metadata stored about those items. For example, with outlook, I can make a search folder containing mail from all my accounts that I havent read yet, and of couse call this ‘unread mail’. Using this same concept, I am able to load my iPod with a range of music that suits my taste, and is always fresh!

Let me first quickly explain my listening habbits. I listen to everything on random (unless I get into a particular mood). If I hear a song I dont like, I rate it 5 Stars. Why? Because I can easily just rate a full 5 stars without looking at my iPod, than to rate it with only one, two, three, or whatever. I then have a smart playlist in iTunes that collects all songs rated with 5 stars. Every few weeks, I just select all these songs, and toss them.

I then have another smart playlist, oddly enough called ‘iPod list’. This playlist has the following rules:

1) Last Played is not in the last 7 days – I like having the nice mix, and this will remove songs that I have recently listened to and enjoyed enough to keep, since iTunes only registers a song as played if you play it to the end.
2) My Rating is not 5 Stars – mentioned this above. If I think the song is crap, dont put it back in this list.
3) Limit to 26GB selected by Random – since my music selection is random, adding this in also randomizes the list that actually gets loaded. Lastly, I say 26GB since the 30GB iPod really only holds about 28.5GB, and I want some room to hold my videos and photos that stay on there as well.
4) Live Updating – If I listen to the song on my desktop, take it out of this list as well.

In the iPod preferences, I just then tell it to sync only my ‘iPod List’ Smart Playlist. Then I can just shuffle this all day, and rock out. The iPod keeps my ratings, as well as the ‘Last Played’ date. So when I go back to sync with iTunes, it tells iTunes which songs I listened to, removes them from the ‘iPod List’, sends them to last.fm since I use the jscrob plugin, refreshes the iPod List, and then syncs it back. I usually run the sync once again in the morning right before I remove it though, to make sure it has the newly updated iPod list.

Listening To: ‘Let You Down’ by Dave Matthews Band

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