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Organize Your iTunes Music Library with Playlists

The iTunes Music Library can quickly become a fearsomely huge beastie. Each Library can contain thousands upon thousands of songs. To help you organize your music into groups, iTunes offers the playlist feature. You can create as many playlists as you want, and each playlist can contain any number of songs. Whereas the Library lists all available songs, a playlist displays only the songs that you add to it. Further, any changes that you make to a playlist affect only that playlist, leaving the Library intact.

To create a playlist, you can do any of the following:

  • Choose File→New Playlist.

  • Press Command+N.

  • Choose File→New Playlist from Selection. This creates a new playlist and automatically adds any tracks that are currently selected.

  • Click a song to select it; then click the Genius button at the lower-right corner of the window. (The Genius button bears a striking “atom” symbol.) iTunes builds a playlist of songs that are similar in some way (typically by matching the genre of the selection or the beats per minute, but also based on recommendations from other iTunes members). Note that your Mac needs an Internet connection to create a Genius playlist, and the larger your music library, the longer it will take iTunes to build your playlist.

  • Click the iTunes DJ entry in the Playlist section at the left side of the window. iTunes delivers a random selection of songs taken from your iTunes Music Library. You can change the order of the songs in the iTunes DJ playlist (known as Party Shuffle in older versions of iTunes), add songs from your Library, or delete songs that don’t fit the scintillating ambience of your gathering. Enjoy!

    If you see Party Shuffle but no DJ Playlist in iTunes, update to the most recent version of iTunes on the Apple Web site.

  • Click the New Playlist button in the iTunes window (the plus sign button in the lower-left corner). You get a newly created empty playlist (the toe-tappin’ untitled playlist).

All playlists appear in the Source list. To help organize your playlists, it’s a good idea name them. For example, suppose that you want to plan a party for your polka-loving friends. Instead of running to your computer after each song to change the music, you could create a polka-only playlist. Select and start the playlist at the beginning of the party, and you won’t have to worry about changing the music the whole night. (You can concentrate on the accordion.) To load a playlist, select it in the Source list; iTunes displays the songs for that playlist.

The same song can appear in any number of playlists because the songs in a playlist are simply pointers to songs in your Music Library — not the songs themselves. Add and remove them at will to or from any playlist, secure in the knowledge that the songs remain safe in the Library. Removing a playlist is simple: Select the playlist in the Source list and then press Delete.

Removing a playlist doesn’t actually delete any songs from your Library.

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