1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Tier Playlists

iTunes Tips
We all know that playlists are listed in alphabetical order. But what do you do when your most-used playlists doesn't begin with the letter "A?"

Well, to get your favorite playlists towards the top, regardless of what alphabetical letter they begin with, try using a combination of periods and colons.

For your 1st tier (most-used/favorite) playlists, use a period followed by a colon (.:) at the beginning of the title.

For 2nd tier, use a colon and a period (:.)

3rd tier, use two colons (::)

And lastly for the 4th tier, don't use a period or colon at all. If you do this, your playlists will look something like this...

.: New Music
:. Favorites
:. Least Played
:: Car Mix
:: Office Mix
Feel Good Mix

by iBang on Jan 14 | 8:00 am


So glad this is now documented on the site.

by dfbills on Jan 14 | 1:12 pm

Strange. Using your suggestion, however my list displays ":. Favorites" before ".: New Music."

Any suggestions as to why this might be happening?


by ipodian on Jan 18 | 8:38 am

ipodian -

I'm getting the same thing you are. My guess is that it's a difference in the way windows vs mac sort

by n7 on Jan 18 | 9:30 am

If one of you guys figure out the windows sort, I'll add it to the entry.

by dfbills on Jan 18 | 10:44 am

Most of the normal characters show up first alphabeticaly, I use a dash for playlists I want to show up first (it works for albums and artists too)

Most of the special charactes show up last, I use an omega Ω for my audio book playlists so they show up last.

by Anachronism on Jan 20 | 12:56 pm

Since I have hundreds and hundreds of playlists, I could never just sort them alphabetically or I'd never find anything, so I use a whole batch of characters to sort my playlists. I make most of them act as a mnemonic for the grouping; for example, spoken-word albums get Option-6, or § (there's a name for it but I can't remember what it is), because it kind of looks like an S. (Mac keyboard, obviously.)

The character that sorts to the top is the caret, shift-6. I put one of those at the beginning of all my new playlists, so they're always at the top of the list: when I've listened to the playlist, I remove the caret so it moves down with the rest of the playlists that start with that symbol. If I need something to be right at the very top of the playlists, I use two carets, or even three or four.

After that, here are the other symbols I use in the order they automatically sort in:

Option-Shift-?, ¿, for Christmas
Option-\, «
Option-6, §, for Spoken Word
Option-7, ¶
Option-g, ©, for Comedy
Option-Shift-7, ‡
Option-3, £, for Live performances
Option-y, ¥, for Vocal Classical
Option-Shift-2, €, for Classical
Option-j, ?
Option-l, ¬
Option-v, ?, for Jazz
Option-5, ?
Option-b, ?, for Soundtracks
Option-x, ?
Option-z, ?

by pyramus on Jan 20 | 1:27 pm

How does iTunes perform with hundreds of playlists?

I think I've got like 30-40 and I notice a speed hit on my 500mhz G3.

by dfbills on Jan 20 | 3:17 pm


*shrug* not quite sure why you get ":. Favorites" on top of ".: New Music"

n7 could be right...i'm running windows...are you running mac?

by iBang on Jan 23 | 6:00 am

dfbills, I have a G3 500mHz machine, too, and I don't think the number of playlists makes a really huge difference. It's true that some of them need updating after a song is played (if a list has "playcount is 3" as a criterion, the song will have to be moved out of that playlist once it's played), but that isn't a huge concern, at least not that I've noticed. I'm not sure that I'd use iTunes as a party jukebox, because sometimes there's a brief pause a few seconds into a song as the previous one updates.

The number of songs matters more; I have about 50 GB of music and other sound files (lots of spoken-word stuff), and the XML file takes a long long time to update. It can take ten minutes to finish updating if I'm modifying the information on a lot of files at once. (I had the same problem with iPhoto: after a thousand pictures, the library starts taking a really long time to load, and at 3000 pictures it was so slow that I just gave up using it.)

by pyramus on Jan 24 | 7:32 pm


I am running a mac. n7 is right? I checked it on my PC just after reading the comment. I thought things of this nature would be treated equal across platforms. I agree with n7 though, sorting is probably handled by the OS...


by ipodian on Jan 25 | 4:22 pm

I've been using a system like this in iTunes Windows for awhile.

* for Smart Playlists, keeps them first.
! For any playlists I'm working on
§ For songs I need to add to a playlist
• for a couple playlists that I use often

Then nothing for playlists of certain artists

Δ for artist playlists that I'm not going to listen to for awhile
Ω for playlists that I made to burn onto a cd or for other ones that I want to hide at the end of my list.

by PittHockey on Jan 26 | 6:16 pm

Basically for windows, all you have to do is open up a word processor and Insert>Symbol or something of the sort. Put a bunch of them into the workspace, and then copy paste all of them.

Make a new playlist in itunes and paste the entire strip of characters. Then one by one copy and paste a symbol for a new blank playlist to see how they get ordered.

by PittHockey on Jan 26 | 6:29 pm

Ok did a bit more testing with this... lol.

Made a mistake up there in the order. ! comes before * on the iPod, but iTunes automatically has the smart playlists first. I tried out a bunch more symbols too, so here's a revised list. If you want to use any of them, just highlight it here, Ctrl+C, then make a new playlist in iTunes and Ctrl+V.



Regular alphabet fits in here, followed by greek.

Sorry for the long list, but I know there's a small number of people that might actually be able to use all of these. If you'd want to store them all for later use, just copy and paste this line into a playlist:

Some symbols won't work on the iPod, but I tested all of these to make sure they do work. Also, some might not show up well here on the web, but they work rather well on the iPod. I think I'm done now... :D

by PittHockey on Jan 26 | 9:33 pm

Excellent find, PittHockey!! I've been looking for the longest time how to make a Last Tier category, and the Ω does the trick!!

by iBang on Feb 07 | 5:20 am

I only have a few smart playlists at this point, and I've numbered them to override the alphabetical order:

1. basic playlist
2. most recent


I haven't gotten to 10 yet but after testing it turns out that 10 is listed after 1. Therefore I will have to add a 0 to 1 through 9 when I have 10 playlists. This seems more straightforward than the symbols.

by nooneyouknow on Feb 07 | 1:21 pm

But symbols are much more fun and stylish than numbers. ;)

by PittHockey on Feb 08 | 12:22 am

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