HackIt: How to add Smart Playlists to your iPod

Holy Smart Playlists, Batman!

Holy Smart Playlists, Batman!

One of the greatest things about iTunes is the Smart Playlists feature. One of the worst things about iTunes is figuring out how to do things.

One thing I always had difficulty with was figuring out how to create Smart Playlists for the music on my iPod. Sure, I could create Smart Playlists and sync them directly with my iPod, but sometimes that ends up throwing in music I don’t want. And when you’re dealing with limited storage capacity, you have to be ruthless about what gets on your iPod.

So, I looked everywhere, but didn’t really have much luck (not even through Apple’s Support site). After many hours of fussing, I finally hit jackpot and figured out how. Detailed instructions after the jump.

Note: for this trick to work, you need your iPod set up for automatic sync to a playlist.

Things you need:

  • iPod (and data cable)
  • iTunes

Things you need to do:

Part 1: Setting the stage

Note: if your iPod already syncs to a single playlist, you can skip this step. If you sync to multiple playlists, you need to unify all those playlists together. To do that, simply create a Smart Playlist that combines all the playlists (call it “iPod Music”)¬† and skip to Part 2. (Pictorial Help)

  1. Connect your iPod.
  2. Create a new playlist (File > New Playlist). Let’s call it “iPod Music”.
  3. Add the music you want to sync to the iPod to this new playlist.
  4. Set up the iPod to Automatically Sync with the “iPod Music” playlist.

Part 2: Getting on stage

  1. Create a new smart playlist (File > New Smart Playlist).
  2. Set the following rules (pictorial help below):
    • Enable “Match all of the following rules”
    • Set the following rule: Rating >> is greater than >> 3 stars
    • Add another rule by clicking on the little plus sign
    • Set the following rule: Playlist >> is >> iPod Music
    • Enable “Live Updating

    Rules for the iPod Top Rated Smart Playlist

    Rules for the iPod Top Rated Smart Playlist

  3. Click Ok and give your new playlist a name. Let’s call it “iPod Top Rated”.
  4. Now, set your iPod to sync with the new “iPod Top Rated” Smart Playlist.
  5. Apply and Sync, and now iTunes will do its thing.

Part 3: Rocking out!

  1. Rinse and repeat Part 2 for any and all additional Smart Playlists.
  2. Rock on!


Just a few handy tips that may help:

  • I’d recommend creating a folder for all your iPod Smart Playlists — that way, you can group them all together.
  • More to come as I think of them…

Questions? Praise? Confused looks? Email me at mo@digitalize.ca or leave me a sweet comment.