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How iTunes Smart Playlists Work

iTunes has a feature called smart playlists. Under iTunes DJ (near the top of the Playlists section of the Source pane), you can find these smart playlists, which are indicated by a gear-in-a-document icon. iTunes comes with a few sample smart playlists, such as My Top Rated and Recently Added, and you can create your own.

Smart playlists add items to themselves based on prearranged criteria, or rules. For example, when you rate your content items, My Top Rated changes to reflect your new ratings. You don’t have to set anything up because My Top Rated and Recently Added are already defined for you.

Of course, smart playlists are ignorant of your taste in music or video. You have to program them with rules by using the information in iTunes. For example, you can create a smart playlist that uses the Year field to grab all the songs from 1966. This list, in no particular order, might include The Beatles (“Eleanor Rigby”), Frank Sinatra (“Strangers in the Night”), The Yardbirds (“Over Under Sideways Down”), and Ike and Tina Turner (“River Deep, Mountain High”) — a far-out playlist, no doubt, but not necessarily what you want. You can use other fields of information that you entered (such as ratings, artist name, or composer) to fine-tune your criteria. You can also use built-in functions, such as Play Count (the number of times the item was played) or Date Added (the date the item was added to the library).

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