Use Smart Playlists for Endless Combinations of Christmas Music

Kathleen and I have hundreds of Christmas songs that are part of our iTunes libraries. When we shared a 10 Gigabyte iPod, I had to move large playlists off of it to make room for the Christmas music. Now that I have my own iPhone, I was concerned that I would have to do the same thing because I have less available space on it than Kathleen has on her four-year old hard drive based model.

This was before I learned the secret of using Smart Playlists as a window into a large iTunes library. I got the idea from Andy Ihnatko while listening to Episode 7 of The Apple Phone Show:

Tip #5: If you have a large media library, use Smart Playlists in iTunes. Use it to sort the kind of music, etc., that you want to store on the iPhone, then sync that one playlist. You can even use it to sync a certain amount of music (say 512 megs) that you haven’t heard. Good stuff. Each time you plug in your iPhone, it’ll remove old stuff and replace it with fresh and tasty stuff....

Here's the management technique that I've been using.

  1. Create three Smart Playlists: Let's call them "Unrated Christmas", "Christmas Favorites", and "Forgotten Christmas".
  2. Set rules for "Unrated Christmas":
    • Match all of the following rules:
    • Album contains Christmas
    • Rating is {zero stars}
    • Limit to 25 items selected by random
    • Live updating
  3. Set rules for "Christmas Favorites":
    • Match all of the following rules:
    • Album contains Christmas
    • Rating is greater than {three stars}
    • Limit to 25 items selected by most often played
    • Live updating
  4. Set rules for "Forgotten Christmas":
    • Match all of the following rules:
    • Album contains Christmas
    • Rating is greater than {three stars}
    • Limit to 25 items selected by least recently played
    • Live updating
  5. Start playing and rating the songs on the "Unrated Christmas" playlist: As you rate your Christmas songs, the songs that are rated four or five stars will fill "Christmas Favorites" and "Forgotten Christmas".
  6. Sync to your desktop for a supply of new unrated songs: Repeat the rating process until done.
  7. Play your "Forgotten Christmas" and "Christmas Favorites" playlists for yourself and your family, and you will have a constant supply of the songs that you like best for the season.

If you think my rules that set the minimum rating for each song at four stars, either set your rules to three stars or lower, or create a fourth smart playlist which grabs a changing mix of your lower-rated Christmas songs.

This tip and more like it can probably be found in iPhone Fully Loaded, Andy Ihnatko's new book. I put it on my wish list.