iPod doesn't recognize Grouping?

I've been fooling around with Smart Playlists and the new Grouping category in iTunes 4.2. I've noticed, however, that my iPod doesn't pick up the songs included on the playlists with the Grouping tag.

The playlists work fine on iTunes on my Mac, they just don't transfer the songs to the iPod (3G 15GB).

Anybody else have this problem?

by alvaj on Dec 28, 03 | 1:55 pm


I have the same problem with playlists generated by using field Comment as an additional 'genre' indicator.

I'm using iTunes 4 and 3G 10GB iPod.

Help appreciated, it took me quite a while adding those entries to Comment field!

by migao on Dec 29, 03 | 6:14 am

I tried restoring my ipod and putting all the mp3s back on serveral times but it didn't solve this. This used to solve the problem where the ipod wouldn't recongize the comment feild all the time.

Untill the next firmware upgrade I fear there is no work around for this problem.

Sorry, Justin

by noname on Dec 30, 03 | 4:03 am


Yes there seems to be a workaround, although not using fields 'Notes' or 'Group'. I simply used field 'Genre' to input all related information. I had success with the following.


'US, Rock'
'US, Rock, Metal'


'Genre contains US'

This transfered nicely to iPod.

I will continue to test this and will let you know if it works with more complicated combinations and if I had any side effects.


by migao on Jan 03, 04 | 7:38 am


There was no side effects, although for some reason while selecting several tracks, the length of field 'Genre' is restricted to certain number of characters (disclaimer: I'm using iTunes 4.0 for Windows). This problem can be worked around such that you edit a longer Genre field for one track and then use the dropdown menu to select that Genre for the other tracks.

I am happy now with an endless combination of genres and other grouping data to be easily used in playlists and exported to iPod.


by migao on Jan 03, 04 | 11:09 am

Other possibility:
Disable the live update option of the in the effected smart playlists... at least till apple fixes the problem.

by chrigu on Jan 06, 04 | 4:02 am

It looks pretty definitive that this ISN'T the way to use Grouping. I just read this off of the Apple boards:

"Posted by Lowell Stewart on 10:55am Jan 6, 2004 CDT

I was browsing through the iTunes music store, and noticed that the music store is already using the Grouping tag as Mike indicated: Click on the banner ad for the "just added 1000 classical albums", and choose something from Deutsche Grammphon. I looked at Bach's Tocatta and Fugue BWV 565, etc. The track list for the CD shows disclosure triangles according to each track's Grouping tag.

This usage is probably not compatible with those of you trying to use Grouping as a sub-genre classification tool, but I think Comments could be used adequately for that.

The big question for me is, when will iTunes itself support the Grouping tag like the iTunes music store does?? (I was all excited to make my own classical CDs appear like this, but... they don't.)"

by thenightfly42 on Jan 06, 04 | 5:03 pm

Regardless of Apple's "intended use" they should allow users to enter character strings into the "grouping" field and then generate smart playlists based on the content of that field (that will transfer to the iPod). This is extremely frustrating considering that I spent several days transferring all of my "sub-genre" info from the "comments" field to the "grouping" field. Any word from Apple as to when they will rectify this cluster f*ck?

by Clark Crawford on Jan 06, 04 | 6:58 pm

if you turn off live updating you can still use the grouping tag for categorizing, you just have to edit your smartlist twice each time you add new grouping keywords, edit and turn live updating on to rebuild the smartlist, then turn it off again before updating your pod... wak but it works... if apple would fix this and the date uploaded bug all my smartlists would work sweet and I would be forever happy....

by wastedtalent on Jan 08, 04 | 9:44 pm

I have this probelm when using the Comments field (iTunes 4.0 Mac and brand-new 20 GB iPod)--I would get one or maybe two tracks on my iPod for playlists that relied on Comments data. I turned off live updating and it fixed the problem on the iPod, but...

I copied the songs back OFF the iPod using Unison (like rsync) to my work PC and imported the tracks to iTunes 4.1. When I checked my smart playlists on the PC, they only had the one or two tracks that would appear on the iPod when "live updating" was checked on my Mac! A quick look at the library revealed that somehow the importing routine *stripped* the data right out of the comments field for all but one of my comments categories (and the one or two tracks that did show up). Incidentally, the one that stayed was the only comments category I had created before getting my iPod.

Very weird...definitely sounds like a bug.

by mkcheme on Jan 14, 04 | 3:00 pm

mkcheme: actually, the songs aren't being updated to the iPod at all. The bug is that changing the Comment field isn't enough to tell iTunes to send the update to the iPod.

If you keep your complete collection on your computer, just reformat the iPod and reload all your songs; bingo, 20 minutes later, all the comments are correct.

by thenightfly42 on Jan 14, 04 | 3:13 pm

Thanks for the info, TNF. So every time I go through and change Comments in iTunes I have to reformat the iPod to get it to take the changes? Blargh! Is this true for other tags as well (title/album/etc)? I assume it's the problem people are seeing with "grouping."

by mkcheme on Jan 14, 04 | 6:53 pm

MKC: It's only Comments and (perhaps) Grouping. The other tags work properly. It is probable that you could edit another tag to get the update to occur properly. My suggestion was just a "quick fix", so that you could start fresh.

by thenightfly42 on Jan 14, 04 | 9:05 pm

I think that this feature is officially half-baked. Maybe it will be completed in iTunes 5.0 and the next round of iPod updates.

by dfbills on Jan 15, 04 | 12:09 am

Apple has acknowledged the bug. No word on when it will be fixed, though.

by hondo77 on Jan 28, 04 | 12:09 pm

Nice catch!

by dfbills on Jan 30, 04 | 1:17 am

I have a master playlist (BigList) with about 1,000 songs in it.

I then tried to create a smart playlist with the following criteria

1. Playlist is BigList

2. Last Played is not within the last 14 days

3. limit to 300 songs

4. selected by Least Recently played

It is set to live update, but when I play a song, it does not drop off the smart playlist unless I resync with Itunes.

If I change the first rule to anything other than "Playlist is Biglist" it works fine.

So it appears to me that you can't make a smart playlist based on another static playlist and have it dynamically update on the Ipod.

If I change my first rule to based on Composer or Rating or anything else it works like it should and dynamically updates.

I verified this bug on both a 3G and 4G Ipod several times and tried reformatting and reloading from scratch with no sucess.

by FredH on Apr 13, 05 | 9:33 pm

FredH - Yes, I agree it's a bug. There have been several iPod software updates since it was first mentioned here, and it hasn't been fixed, so I have a feeling it probably won't be. It's definitely a bummer.

by davepmiller on Apr 13, 05 | 11:24 pm

PS - More comments on the bug with referencing other playlists issue can be found here: http://smartplaylists.com/comments.php?id=532_0_1_0_C

by davepmiller on Apr 13, 05 | 11:32 pm


I found a work around by using the Composer field.

I first create my large playlist of 1,000 songs (BigList).

I then select all the songs in the list and right click on them and select "Get Info". Now I select the checkbox next to the Composer field and set the Composer to BigList on all 1,000 songs at once.

Now I make the first parameter in my smart playlist to:
1.Composer is "BigList"
2. Last Play Date is not in the last 7 days
3.limit to 300 songs
4.selected by Least Recently Played

This works like a charm and allows the Ipod to do dynamic updates on the fly without re-syncing to Itunes.

Since hardly any of my MP3's have Composer information in the tags anyway, it doesn't really alter my tags any.

I think you could also do the same thing with the Comments field, but I have not tried that yet.

by FredH on Apr 14, 05 | 8:04 am

I've thought about doing something like that, but that only works if each song is only on one playlist, right? Also, I think it might be a little messy to keep track of if you add or delete songs from playlists very often. Thanks for the suggestion though.

by davepmiller on Apr 14, 05 | 10:12 pm

Why should that be? Can't you do "contains" on composers?

If so, you should be able to generate a smart playlist like:

1. Composer contains "BigList"
2. ...

and then do another like:

1. Composer contains "SmallerList"
2. ...

to get the effect you want.

by Penguiny on Apr 15, 05 | 10:42 am

Er... and, obviously, your Composer on each track would look like:

Playlist1, Playlist2, BigList, SmallerList, ...

by Penguiny on Apr 15, 05 | 10:43 am

Sorry - should have been clearer. Once you have all the fields filled in, creating the smartplaylists will work fine.

The part that won't work if you have songs on multiple playlists is:

"I then select all the songs in the list and right click on them and select "Get Info". Now I select the checkbox next to the Composer field and set the Composer to BigList on all 1,000 songs at once.

by davepmiller on Apr 15, 05 | 10:37 pm

Agreed. If song number one is in both BigList playlist and SmallerList, you can only set the composer to either BigList or SmallerList.

But, you could set your smart playlist to be:

Composer contains "List"

This would catch all songs with the Composer field set to either BigList or SmallerList.

But this is really just a workaround. What really needs to be done, is for Apple to fix the bug that does not allow smart playlists based on other playlists to dynamically update on the Ipod without re-syncing.

by FredH on Apr 18, 05 | 11:37 am

Hey FredH,

If you're only looking for a subset of songs from one playlist, especially a large one (1k songs) like you describe, why not just limit the upload to that playlist's songs? Then you can slice and dice with the smart playlists on the ipod, and you won't need that first condition.

That way, too, once you update Biglist in iTunes, the smart playlist will automatically update on the iPod.

Or another workaround, just sort Biglist in iTunes by date played, starting from earliest, upload that playlist to iPod, then play the songs in order. You lose the shuffle, but you don't have to fuss with changing all the metadata.

by talking_animal on Apr 19, 05 | 11:18 am

>>If you're only looking for a subset of songs from one playlist, especially a large one (1k songs) like you describe, why not just limit the upload to that playlist's songs?<<

But I want more songs on my Ipod than just what is in that one playlist. I have 20GB of music, and I want it all with me so I can listen to what I feel like hearing at the time, and it is not always in one paticular playlist.

I just want the Smart Playlists feature to work they way they are supposed to, and update themselves on the Ipod when I am a thousand miles from home and can't re-sync to my PC.

by FredH on Apr 19, 05 | 3:24 pm

Consider yourself validated FredH. I feel the same way.

by davepmiller on Apr 19, 05 | 9:43 pm


Thank you once again for posing the brainteasing question. Have you tried using the check boxes?

You could open iTunes, check only the songs on BigList, then set up a SPL with "last played not within 14 days," "limit to 300 songs" and "selected by least recently played." Synch that to the iPod, then leave iTunes be.

Then every time you played the playlist on the iPod it would be updated to drop the songs from the last two weeks. You could go for years without synching up and keep cycling through the BigList songs.


by talking_animal on May 30, 05 | 7:48 pm

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