How to Create a Smart Playlist

iTunes Tips
To create a smart playlist:

Choose “New Smart Playlist” from the File Menu.

- or -

Hold the option key and click the new playlist button (which looks like a gear) in the bottom left-hand corner.

Then, choose the criteria for iTunes to build your smart playlist.

Let your imagination soar.. If your imagination is lacking or you just need some inspiration, peruse the site- that's what it is all about.

In Apple-speak: (from the embedded iTunes & Music Store Help)

You can choose to have a playlist automatically created from specific songs in your library using Smart Playlists. You can create a Smart Playlist that includes only certain types of music, songs with high ratings, or songs that match other criteria. For example, you could create a playlist that's no more than 5 gigabytes (GB) in size, and includes only your highest rated jazz songs.

To have iTunes add songs that match specific criteria, make sure "Match the following condition" is checked, then make your selections from the pop-up menus.

For example, you might want iTunes to only add songs that are by a particular artist, or songs with at least a four-star rating.

To add additional matching criteria, click the Add (+) button.

To make the playlist a specific duration or size, select "Limit to" and make your selections from the pop-up menus.

To include only songs that have a checkmark beside them in your library (and that match your conditions), select "Match only checked songs."

To have iTunes continually modify your Smart Playlist as songs are added to or removed from your library, make sure "Live updating" is selected.

To create your Smart Playlist, click OK, then name the playlist in the Source list.

Any songs in your library that match the settings you chose are added to the playlist. A Smart Playlist icon has a gear symbol on it.

by dfbills on Aug 08 | 11:00 pm


Old question: How do I create a playlist of just purchased music from the iTunes store? I did a search on this site, but no matter what search parameters I enter, I get 40 results, none of which match. I know this is an old subject, but I can't remember how.



by Monty Lee on May 01 | 3:45 pm

Newbie question: How do I create a smart playlist using the Comments option. For example if I want to put the comment "Romantic" by songs?

by bruce on Oct 29 | 12:16 am

Create a SPL
1.) hold down the option key (and you will see the "+" button (on the lower left of the iTunes app. change to a "*". Click it.
2.) use the key command: option/apple/n
3.) New Smart Playlist in the Edit menu.

Then in the dialog box that pops up use the drop down field to change it to "Comment" and the drop down box in the middle to change it to: "contains" ; "does not contain"; "is"; "is not"; "starts with" or "ends with", then fill in whatever you want in the empty field.

Hope that helps. I use "Comment" quite a bit for taylored SPLs. Have fun!

by Crimson on Nov 01 | 7:13 pm

Thank you very much!

by bruce on Nov 01 | 7:26 pm

Glad to help!

by Crimson on Nov 01 | 10:54 pm

brand new iPod 15GB. plugged it in to my iBook but only about 1/3 of my library transfers to the iPod. I use Smartplaylists (of course!). Have tried manual, auto, etc. Have tried everything, basically. Is there some quirk with Smart Playlists that could be preventing the transfer? Help.

by adub on Jan 05 | 4:10 pm

A REALLY newbie question:
Ok, so I have 1,000 songs downloaded. Some from my computer/radio, etc, and some from my CD library. Every time I download a CD, I create a playlist with the CD's name and download to that particular playlist. However, I've found it tiresome to have to scroll through all 1,000 (and potentially 10,000) songs everytime I want to find one of the "non CD downloaded songs". What do you suggest? I wish there was an a-z button to immediately jump to the different letters!

by Pia on Jun 03 | 10:14 pm

Whoa, whoa, whoa!

No need to create a playlist for each CD. There *is* an a-z button! It's called the Browse Button and you find it in the top right corner of iTunes when you have iTunes fully open. It has an eyeball on it.

Click that and 3 panes open up revealing your entire library sorted by GENRE; ARTIST; ALBUM. With any category selected you can type any letter and the list will jump directly to that letter. Or if you type fast enough you can even type multiple letters as in: "r", which in my list under ARTIST, takes me to R. Carlos Nakai, "ra" takes me to Rachael Yamagata, and "rar" takes me to Rasa (as I have no artist in my Library that begins "rar"). Similarly I can go to ALBUM and type "s" and go directly to Sacred Journey of Kukai or I type "sg" and I go to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. What's more if I put my cursor in the search box after selecting one of "GENRE" "ARTIST" or "ALBUM" column I can type in anything and the search will filter as I type.

Also if you want to create a playlist for a certain album there is a *better* way. Simply rip the album (download it as you say) then after the album has been ripped to iTunes, select the songs you want to include on the album and then go to File>New Playlist From Selection and iTunes will create a playlist that is properly named and all for that CD. Or if you want to use Smart Playlist then after you have ripped the CD in question go to File>New Smart Playlist and create a playlist with "Match the following condition" Album is "whatever you want here" and you will get a new Smart Playlist with your just ripped CD.

Hope this helps!

by Crimson on Jun 04 | 6:43 am

Thank you for explaining this. However, I didn't make my self clear. I know how to navigate(browse) in ITunes. I was referring to scrolling on my IPOD with my thumb. If I have 1,000 songs, and they are not part of a playlist (or what if I just want to find a song and don't know what playlist I have it under), then I have to scroll with thumb to find it....does that make sense?

by Pia on Jun 04 | 12:52 pm

newbie question guys, i have created a few "smart" playlists, and i am pretty sure i can have these playlists saved onto my ipod mini so i don't have to scroll all the way through to liten to a song i like. i am having serious trouble figuring out how to do this...any help would be appreciated.


by kyle76262 on Aug 29 | 6:44 pm

Hi Kyle! Welcome! If you have your iPod plugged in, go to the Edit|Preferences menu option. Then click on the ipod tab. It should be the second from the left.

Is the first radio button highlighted? It says "Automatically update all songs and playlists." If it is, your playlists should appear on your mini.

If you have more music in iTunes than fits on your iPod, then you will likely have one of the other two radio buttons highlighted.

If the "Automatically update selected playlists only" button is highlighted, then check the box next to the name of the pls you want on your ipod.

Good luck!

by talking_animal on Aug 30 | 7:36 am

another newbie question: I've set the criteria for my smart playlist and have the title in the source column but nothing is being pulled in to the smart playlist. I am trying to set something up to keep my christmas music from shuffling in with all my other music. I listen to my songs shuffled and if i just put my christmas music in as a regular playlist, it will shuffle with everything else. Help!

by jal1020 on Nov 08 | 12:39 am

here's the easiest way: set up a smart playlist with one condition: <genre> <is not> [christmas]

okay. if you're playing from a smart playlist that already has a condition, most important is that you can't truly exclude anything from a playlist that is set to "match <any> of the following rules". if you want to be sure a particular thing won't play, you have to make it a requirement by switching to "match <all>".

i have a pretty complicated set of smart playlists feeding the party shuffle. here's how i exclude songs.

1. itunes 5 and 6 have folders, which are treated like playlists for most stuff. so i made a playlist folder called "off" and i keep smart and dumb playlists of songs i don't want to play in that folder. this includes some genres, songs i don't want to shuffle, and songs on the ipod.

2. every playlist that is part of the party shuffle feeder system is set to "match <all" and has a last condition: <playlist> <is not> [off]

3. songs i don't want to play i just drag to a playlist and put that in the "off" folder and instantly they're out of the party shuffle rotation. (for this really to work without any extra work i have the party shuffle set to "<0> upcoming songs".)

BTW for other folks i found in mac itunes that putting folders inside folders really slows itunes down.

by chromo on Nov 08 | 12:26 pm

ah i forgot - for the "<genre><is not>[christmas]" thing to work you have to have put all your holiday music as "christmas". obviously if you've filed it under something else like "holiday" or something, you'd use the name you gave them.

by chromo on Nov 08 | 12:29 pm

More than one condition...

How do I create a list that has Rock, Alternative, more than 4 stars, and Punk?


by poppy13 on Nov 09 | 8:01 pm

if what you want is "rock songs, alternative songs, punk songs, and any other songs that are more than 4 stars" then you want "match any" to get more than one thing into the list like that, so...

match <any> of the following rules:

<genre><is>[rock ]
<genre><is>[alternative ]
<genre><is>[punk ]
<rating><is greater than>[ * * * * ]

if what you want instead is punk, rock, and alternative songs that have 5 stars, then you have a little more work to do. make 3 playlists:

match <all> of the following rules:
<genre><is>[rock ]
<rating><is greater than>[ * * * * ]
match <all> of the following rules:
<genre><is>[alternative ]
<rating><is greater than>[ * * * * ]
match <all> of the following rules:
<genre><is>[punk ]
<rating><is greater than>[ * * * * ]

and then put them all in one folder.

by chromo on Nov 09 | 11:11 pm

Just out of curorisity - does the order of the conditions matter?

Thanks for the help.

by poppy13 on Nov 10 | 1:01 pm

no, doesn't matter. it's a really simple system. BTW in that second example, after you make the 3 playlists, you can also make them into one list with another smart playlist:

match <any> of the following rules:
<playlist><is>[top rock songs ]
<playlist><is>[top alternative songs ]
<playlist><is>[top punk songs ]

sticking them in a folder is easier and works just as well. the reason you might collect them with SPL instead is if you want to limit the size of the final list or something like that.

by chromo on Nov 10 | 1:39 pm

(oh and of course nothing says you can't do both if you want)

by chromo on Nov 10 | 1:41 pm

Trying to create just one list with the conditions of say 4 or more stars, is rock, and is alternative, and is punk return results that were not by all of the conditions. So I got some rock songs that had no rating. Ah well - so much for simple. Creating the three top "genre" lists will have to be the way. Thanks

by poppy13 on Nov 11 | 10:37 pm

thanks to all for the help. Haven't had time yet to play with it but at least now i have a direction to head!

by jal1020 on Nov 11 | 10:59 pm

When I purchase a cd and rip it into my computer, I want the same exact tracklist order as the cd itself, but somehow it is jumbling the order. How do I correct this?

by dmcdan on Feb 11 | 12:46 pm

Sort by album, click on the column header for album.

by poppy13 on Feb 11 | 1:22 pm

Sorry, poppy, but I'm still having trouble with this. I have sorted it by album and it just creates another playlist. Could you be a little more specific? Thanks for your help.

by dmcdan on Feb 11 | 1:54 pm

Hi guys newbie question for ya

Is it possible (and if so how) to create a completely random playlist (just like the shuffle function) that will exclude only 1 band?

The reason I ask is that I have a LOT of Iron Maiden on my IPod but, I'll select it when I want it, when I select random I want other stuff.


Mad Genius

by Madgenius on Apr 07 | 7:44 pm
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