Live-updating: a little TOO live?

Pretty much all of my Smart Playlists depend on Live Updating to keep them refreshing appropriately. However, whenever I play these playlists in iTunes, as soon as a song is played it is removed from the top of the list, and a new song is added to the bottom. As a result, the currently playing track is always the first one in the list, and iTunes will just play and play forever, never getting to the end of the list.

This annoys me, because sometimes I fall asleep while listening to music, and would like iTunes to stop playing after a while. Anybody have any ideas for this?

[I am a PC user, so I can't use any of those nice apple scripts out there...]

by gsup on Mar 04, 04 | 6:59 pm


FWIW, almost all of my smart playlists are "Limit to 25 songs" or "Limit to 1 hour", since that's about the longest uninterrupted listening I do. Worst case, you can back out of the playlist (choose "Menu"), then select it again to get a new set of songs.

by Sys Admn on Mar 09, 04 | 1:49 pm

This is not a bug. iTunes is literally interpreting your criteria. If you specify 25 songs selected at random (for example), then once a song is played, it conforms to your criteria and makes sure that you have 25 songs.

Maybe you have to turn off live updating. If that works and it stops after playing the initial 25 songs, then to get another set, select all the songs in the playlist and press Delete. This will refresh the list.

by japester on Mar 09, 04 | 9:36 pm

I suppose that I could turn off Live Updating, but I prefer to keep it on so that when I use the playlist on the iPod, it will refresh without having to resync with iTunes.

This still seems like a bug to me, because the iPod and iTunes differ in the way they handle the same playlist. The iPod plays through the playlist, advancing to the next track in the list until it reaches the end and then stops; but iTunes immediately adds a new track to the _bottom_ of the list (adding to the top would work better), without advancing to the next track. Hence it will keep playing until the smart playlist runs out of music that meet the criteria.

I just think that iTunes and the iPod should handle Smart Playlists the same way (and I wish they would!).

by gsup on Mar 09, 04 | 11:07 pm

On my iPod (1st gen), the smartplaylists do not update on the iPod at all. This behavior is what I would expect.

Does this differ on the newer models?

by dfbills on Mar 09, 04 | 11:20 pm

I wrote an article regarding this behaviour on the iPod. The difference is confusing. I prefer the way the iPod handles it.

Caveat: If you select a playlist and leave the iPod alone and don't go back through any menus, then it will work its way through the list. If you go and have a look at something else, the already-played songs will disappear and more will enter at the bottom.

This, as I've started to tell people a lot, is something that should be reported to Apple

by japester on Mar 10, 04 | 5:00 am

there IS a way to get itunes to add a track to the top of a SPL set to select randomly. sort it backwards!

clicking the header over the item numbers at the left of the playlist sorts items on the list as they were added to the list. with the sort triangle pointed down, items get added to the bottom. but click again so the sort direction triangle points up, and songs will be added to the top.

the visual effect of this is kind of cool because as the player moves from one song to the next, the previous song disappears, a new song is added at the top, and the whole list looks like it's staying the same length.

by chromo on Oct 01, 05 | 6:09 pm

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