How to Use Smart Playlists in iTunes

Here is a guide on how to use the Smart Playlists in iTunes on your Mac. The goal of Smart Playlists is to take tracks that meet your search criteria and assemble playlists for them.

There are multiple parameters you can set for Smart Playlists and there is plenty of room for customizations. When you understand how these playlists work, you will be able to quickly and easily add your own searches and start listening!

How to Use Smart Playlists in iTunes

Here are the steps to take in order to get a Smart Playlist created.

What Are Smart Playlists?

iTunes comes preloaded with multiple Smart Playlists in the sidebar including ones like Classical Music, Recently Added and Recently Played. These are exact examples of the types of playlist you can create for your own criteria. If you click on any of these playlists and then choose Edit Playlist, you can get a look into how they are created.

Customize Smart Playlists to Your Tastes

Upon opening one of the premade playlists, you should be able to get a good picture of how these playlists function. You will see that these playlists have a Match function which then will meet criteria you select. For my example, I am looking at the Recently Added playlist which stipulates to Match songs Added in the Last 2 Weeks.

Any of these parameters can be altered and are essentially “If This/Then That” formulas that you can alter and modify to fit what you are looking for in a playlist. You can add or subtract parameters based on your wishes. If you want to edit one of the pre-made playlists to practice, you can see your changes happening live.

Creating a New Smart Playlist

Now that you have a little better idea about how these Smart Playlists function, you can create your own for your own purposes! In order to get started, navigate to the File menu and choose New Smart Playlist.

Create a New Smart Playlist

You will again be greeted with the window to edit the playlist yet this time the perimeters will be blank, allowing you to start populating your own. You will be able to ask the playlist to Match Music, Audio Books, Movies, TV Shows and even Podcasts. You can then begin selecting the more specific perimeters such as Artist, Year, BPM and many more.

Once you add more than one rule, you can ask your Playlist to Match All rules or Any of the rules. What this means is that if you choose All, your selections will need to match all of your chosen criteria before it appears. If you select Any of the rules, the matched songs will just need to meet one of the rules to appear. This will definitely give you a wider range of material so keep that in mind when selecting rules.

Create Rules For Smart Playlist

You can also limit the playlist size to a certain number of songs and they also can randomly generate. The playlist will update live according to your library so if you have a playlist made for New Rock Music, any new items will be added to your playlist if you have your rules set accordingly. You can also randomly choose songs from your criteria in this more restricted format, giving you potentially 25 new songs of a given genre every time you play your playlist.

Smart Playlists are a very useful feature of iTunes and something I don’t think many music lovers take advantage of. The short setup process may be a little more invasive than your standard drag and drop method, yet the results usually will yield a more organized and resourceful playlist for your needs.