Refreshing a Random Playlist Directly on the iPod

iPod Tips
Following is the gist of an off-topic response I wrote to "Random 25". As I feel it's an important point, I've entered it as a new topic.

On the iPod, play the whole random playlist. When it's finished, if you go into the playlist again, you'll find a brand-new selection of songs.

Caveat: if you skipped an unwanted song, it will still be in the list because the iPod doesn't increment the play count until it's played all the way through. You can "trick" the iPod into thinking an unwanted song has been completely played and thus remove it from the list.

Solution: while playing an unwanted song, press the Select button once to invoke scrub mode and scrub to the end of the unwanted song. The iPod will consider this a fully played song and if you've set any time-based criteria, it won't reappear in the playlist.

That's another important point. If you fail to specify songs "not played for x amount of time", the same bunch of songs will show up because you're not filtering out the songs just played.

by japester on Jan 15 | 8:00 am


thanks for the tip. ive been scrubbing to the end of songs with long outros that i do want to update the play count, just dont wanna hear [at that moment] whatever is at the end.

by cursif on Jan 18 | 7:43 am

How do I refresh a playlist that selects "50 songs by random" ? Or one like KPOD 101.5 ? I have gone to the last song of the playlist and let it play to the end so the playlist has been "played" but still doesn't grab 50 new songs. I've tried some other things (switching between playlists, etc) but nothing seems to do it. Do I have to resync with the computer?

by Jeff H on Jan 20 | 3:54 pm

The important point is to include time-based criteria. This means something like:

Last Played --> is not in the last --> 1 --> month.

If you don't specify this, iTunes (and the iPod) will select the number of songs you specified, and having done so, sees no need to replace any of them. You wanted an hour of rock? You got it. As soon as you specify something like the above, once the song has been played, the Last Played value changes to Now, and that song no longer meets the criteria and is thus removed from the playlist. Get it?

I hope this clarifies it for you.

by japester on Jan 21 | 5:38 am

I have found yet another bug in the way Smart Playlists are dynamically updated on the Ipod itself (without syncing to Itunes).

I was simply looking for a way to put the songs I like in a playlist, but have them drop out of the list once I played them, so it always had fresh music in it.

So I created a master playlist called BigList with all the songs I liked in it.

I then created a Smart playlist with the following settings:

Playlist is BigList

Last Played is not in the last 14 days

Limit to 300 songs, selected by least recently played

But it DOES NOT update dynamically on the Ipod. If I change the first critera to something other than "Playlist is Biglist" it works fine.

So it appears to me that the grouping problem is not the only bug. It looks like you can not create a smart playlist based on another playlist and hope for it to dynamically update on the Ipod itself. It will update if you sync to Itunes, but not on the Ipod.

by FredH on Apr 13 | 9:04 pm

FredH's experience is mine. I've got smart playlists of other smart playlists, set so songs should not repeat for at least a week, and I get the same damn songs every day. Even when I scrub through them, finish the whole playlist, and start it again, I get the same stuff.

It's maddening.

by Herself on May 08 | 7:42 pm

By the way, I just loaded the new Itunes 4.8 and did some testing.

Now, if I create a smartplaylist that is based on another playlist and load it into my 4th gen Ipod (click wheel) it does indeed dynamically update itself on the Ipod.

So for example, if I have all my favorite music in a playlist called "Favorites", then I can create a smart playlist that says

Playlist is Favorites
not played within the last 5 days
limit to 200 songs
select by least recently played

This gives me a dynamic playlist of my favorite songs I have not listened to in a while.

But if I load the same playlist into my 3rd Gen Ipod, it does not dynamically update on the Ipod.

So the bug appears to be fixed on the Click wheel 4th gen Ipods only.

by FredH on May 11 | 8:47 pm

FredH--thanks--I have a 4th gen clickwheel, so will try this. I was surprised that software update didn't automatically give me iTunes 4.8, but I'll go get it from the Apple site, and experiment with the playlist thing.

by Herself on May 11 | 10:13 pm

Well, I upgraded to 4.8, and my 4th gen clickwheel iPod STILL doesn't work well with smart playlists composed of two or more other smart playlists. Which, according to what little info I can find on apple.com/support, isn't surprising.

What IS surprising is that even after playing my smart-smartlist all the way through on the iPod, then resynching to my computer, the playlist did not refresh. This is a playlist that is not supposed to play anything that has been heard in the last week--and also includes a component of choosing some songs from a playcount=0 smartlist. So WHY didn't at least SOME of the songs drop off when I synched?

The list works fine by itself in iTunes--play a song, it disappears, to be replaced at the bottom with a new song.

But somehow, my Last Played and Play Count info from the iPod either doesn't make it into iTunes or is being ignored.

I ran an Applescript that's supposed to sync this info from the iPod to iTunes, and even after running it, no change.

This is the kind of brain teaser that makes me mental.

by Herself on May 14 | 1:34 pm

I think I have a solution.

Make a recently played smart playlist with 5 songs in the playlist
Then make a smart playlist that has random songs and have it also have playlist is not recently played. Then your random playlist will be updated.
I hope you guys understand this. If not, I will try to explain it better.

by bryfox2002 on Jun 13 | 1:31 am

Bryfox, yes, I cannot figure out what you're talking about. Please explain.

by Herself on Jun 13 | 9:54 am

ok, let me try to explain again..first of all you have to make 2 smart playlists

Playlist #1 - Recently Played
Limit to 25 songs selected by most recently played

Playlist #2-Random 5 star Songs
My Rating is *****
Playlist is not Recently Played
Limit to 25 songs selected by Random.

I hope that explains it better and I hope that is what your looking for.

by bryfox2002 on Jun 20 | 11:15 pm

To all users of auto-updating SPLs on the iPod:

It seems that SoftwareUpdate 2005-06-26 completely removes/breaks the auto-updating of Smart Playlists on the iPod itself:

Now, simple playlists with time-based criteria like "Last Played -> is not in the last -> XX" do not remove played tracks from the playlist anymore!

This is really very bad, seems like instead of fixing the various issues with auto-updating SPLs on the iPod (playlists referencing each other), they just removed this feature...

What is strange is that <http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=61686> denies that auto-update on the iPod ever worked. I can not recall having read this so clearly before.

by Palmin on Jun 29 | 8:27 am

WOW, that really sucks, just when I figured out how to make random SPL they have to do that, I used that SPL a lot. Do you think if I go back to the last firmware before this one that the feature will work?

by bryfox2002 on Jun 29 | 12:39 pm

Same problem here. Upgraded my firmware, and now SmartPlaylist no longer rebuild themselves on the Ipod at all. I am going back to the old firmware.

Apple is full of it if they are claiming this never worked before. If so, then WHY did they put a checkbox called LIVEUPDATING on the screen where you build your SmartPlaylist? What else could LIVE UPDATING possibly mean?

It sounds to me like they didn't want to be bothered with fixing the problem, so they just took away the feature.

You would have thought that the battery issue and ensuing lawsuit would have taught them to listen a little more closely to customer complaints. I guess not.

by FredH on Jun 29 | 9:13 pm

Hello, same case here, I upgrade and SPL stop working, I prefered SPL than that podcast, so I choose downgrade, but when I installed tha lastest working firmware does not want to downgrade, I'll try later the full restore, and see if it works..

Do you know how to downgrade or fix the SPL feature?

by Plucas on Jun 30 | 12:42 pm

Well, I found this program the other day, just before I upgraded to the new firmware, and this programs real use is to change the pictures on the ipod, but what it does it take the firmware off of ur ipod and makes a copy of it on ur computer so you can mess with the pictures. So, what I did was after I updated my ipod I took my mom's ipod (bc I didn't update her ipod, thank god) and I extracted her firmware, and put it on my computer and then put it on my ipod and now its back to where it was before I downloaded the new update. The program that I used to extract the firmware is called alterpod and the website is www.podite.com and go to the podware section...but I am unable to upload the firmware to a website, maybe I am not trying enough, but if you want the firmware to downgrade email me at mrmagicman84@yahoo.com and I will try to email it to you.

by bryfox2002 on Jun 30 | 1:08 pm

I did a little research on the Apple site and found the following article


And it claims the following:

" * Updating Smart Playlists
Smart Playlists update on iPod and sync back to iTunes."

The previous article referenced was dated 2002, prior to this feature being added. So according to Apples own info, it was a feature they supported at one time.

by FredH on Jun 30 | 4:05 pm

<http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=61686> appears to be gone. Is that a potentially good thing?

by thenightfly42 on Jul 06 | 11:52 am

hope so ;)

by Plucas on Jul 06 | 11:53 am

iTunes 4.9 has changed this behaviour, much to my annoyance.

If you have a playlist with time-based criteria, such as "not played in last 1 week", once a song has been played, it no longer meets the criteria. Prior to 4.9, if you used the Menu button to get out of the playlist, then went back into it, the currently playing song would appear at the top of the list. This is logical, because the previously played songs no longer meet the criteria.

Now in 4.9, the playlist generated from iTunes remains static on the iPod until you resync. This drives me nuts. I will play one of these playlists for a while, then play something else. Now I can never remember where I was in the playlist. I've complained to Apple about this, and you should too, if it's not the way you want it.

by japester on Jul 06 | 7:18 pm

definitly mr japester, I am using itunes 4.9 and ipod photo 1.1 and it's working great. I'm waiting for the next release 1.3 and waiting to see if it support smart play lists on ipod. if not, so sorry I'll be stuck in 1.1 forever...

I uploaded the latest working firmware for smartplaylist in my web page


by Plucas on Jul 06 | 7:24 pm

gah! isn't it always the way that you always seem to find the information you want RIGHT AFTER you post a question about it?

thanks for the post! i hope my question doesn't anger the regulars :-P

by robb on Jul 19 | 6:55 pm

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