Great iTunes Hack

There’s so many things to learn, it’s hard to keep track of them all.  I found this one on Lifehacker.

I think like most people, I just don’t have the time to go through all my stuff.  I often wonder who does have the time to tag every picture with faces, or to correctly label all your music.  I’m sure it’s a wonderful thing if you do it, but my music collection has been a mess for… oh… 10 years?  When did I go digital?  Heck I don’t even remember.  I do remember seeing my first iPod way back in 99.  So it had to be shortly after that.

So I got a decade of crud built up in my collection and no amount of purging, murging or (what rhymes with *ging?) crying?  pounding?  well you get the idea.  Nothing has really made it better.  So we live in an uneasy truce.  My iTunes library holds yet another project I will never get to.

But today I found a very clever hack with smart playlists that lets me enjoy my music without cleaning it up.  Here’s the gist of it.  A lot like using SQL queries to get lists of information that you then run new queries against (called sub-queries or views) you can create a smart playlist, then use ANOTHER smart play list to filter it.  Essentially, you create 3 playlists, each that filters your music by quality and how recently it was played.  Then you create a master list that combines those three.  Songs you like a lot get mixed in more often.  Using shuffle, it’s every bit as good as Pandora.

For mine, I had to weed out Spoken Word, Children’s, and about a dozen other non-music related genres.  Then I created a list called “Banned” and anything that gets dumped in there gets excluded from my smart play list.  Over time I can go back and decide if I want to keep any of that junk.

Give it a whirl.  The only thing that confused me is that iTunes will change what options you have available depending upon what you are filtering against.  For example, select “Author” and you get one set of options.  Select Last Played and you get a different set of options.  Just play around to see which song attributes have which options.  Ultimately by combining different lists (rather than creating one UBER list) you can make some very powerful song combinations.  I’ve been listening to mine all afternoon and nearly all the things it’s playing are awesome, including some music I haven’t heard for a long time.

So give it a whirl.  It’s cool.

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scott