Smart Playlists in your iPod

iPod Tips
You can create Smart Playlists to play on your iPod but, they may not be as dynamic as you would expect.

dfbills adds: On the series 1 and 2 iPods (Software 1.x), Smart Playlists only update when you sync to your computer. The iPod tracks playcounts and play times but the lists themselves aren't updated until the iPod is synched.

On the series 3 (dockable, software 2.x), Smart Playlists do in fact update on the iPod itself without needing to sync to iTunes.

by amarre on Oct 09 | 6:04 pm


Actually, this is not true.

I have a playlist that is called "Forgotten favs" on my iPod. It lists 12 songs that have at least one star rating, but have not been played in more than 2 weeks. I just played one of them all the way through. Next, I selected a different playlist and began to play it's tracks. I paused the iPod and then returned to "Forgotten favs" to find that the track I had played all the way through had dropped off the playlist.

I believe that iPods don't "Dynamically Update" as they do in iTunes, but when you re-enter a playlist after selecting tracks from another one, the update happens at that time. I've also found this to be true when rating songs in my "unrated playlist". At first, they remain in the unrated list, and when I select my rated list, they're there. Upon returning to "unrated", the newly-rated tracks cannot be found.

by Robert on Oct 10 | 12:27 pm

This is 100% not true. The iPod not only updates Smart Playlists in real time, it does it for ALL of the possible smart playlist combinations.

It's easy to prove that playlists update in real time. Make a playlist for 5 star songs. Now put it on the iPod, and go find a non-5-star song, and change it to five stars. Now check the 5-star playlist. The song is on there, and you definitely haven't synched to a computer, have you?

It does the same for playcounts and for last played time. Make a smart list that has a limit of 1 song, by last played time. Put it on the iPod, and go play a song. Check that playlist out. It's the song you just played, isn't it?

There's a bug in this, I think. If you have a smart playlist that relies on Date Added or Date Modified, then the playlist on the iPod may be hugely different than the playlist on iTunes. This is because the iPod's Date Added is the date it was first put on the iPod itself, while the date added in iTunes is the date the song was first added to iTunes. These might be different between the two, and yes, the smart playlist *will* change on the iPod to reflect this difference. I hope Apple fixes this one, actually.

by Otto on Oct 29 | 6:54 am

I think we're talking about an iPod 1.x vs. 2.x issue here. The story is definitely referring to a 1.x iPod, as I see the same behavior with mine.

Can anyone else confirm this dynamic playlist updating on the iPod 2.x software?

by dfbills on Oct 29 | 11:39 am

I've just tested this :

Created a playlist of all songs of three stars or more, and that have NOT been played in the last month.

Sync'd iPod, started playlist. After the first track had finished, I hit menu a couple of times to go back to the root, then went back into the playlist. The track I'd just played wasn't on it any more!

This is a 3rd gen iPod (dock connector).

by Dan on Nov 13 | 4:45 pm

Great! I've modified the entry. If anyone wants to provide more information about this, I'll add it above.

by dfbills on Nov 13 | 10:47 pm

I find a playlist I have, "To Be Rated", that contains songs with no rating, not only handy to use at home, but also with the iPod on the road if I get bored. I simply start the playlist, press Pause, rate the song, skip to the next, rate, skip, etc., all the way through. When you go back via the Meny button and back into the playlist, you will find that it is now cleared.

by japester on Dec 07 | 7:34 am

In regards to the ipod 2.x smart playlist updating, I just tried what Dan described and it didn't work. Which bums me out, becuase your smart playlists become dumb if you've been away from your computer for a while. But all the more reason to upgrade, right?

20GB Windows version (I think it's 2.x - touchwheel, non-dockable)

by Matt on Dec 11 | 9:43 pm

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