How to create playlists in iTunes | iLounge Article


How to create playlists in iTunes

In our previous iPod 101 segment, we learned how to “import” audio CDs using iTunes.  More likely than not, your library is now quite large - if you don’t already have more than a thousand songs, you will soon.  In no time at all, you will find that the most enjoyable way to listen to your audio collection is not “shuffling” through your entire library.  If your library is like mine, you’ll quickly get frustrated when, after finishing a goosebump-inducing listen of Samuel Barber’s beautiful “Adagio for Strings,” you immediately head ruthlessly into The Beastie Boys’ “Fight for your Right to Party.”  It just doesn’t work.

The solution?  Playlists.  Make a playlist (or collection of songs) for the ride to work.  Make a “mix” of music to study to, or to exercise to.  Make a collection of “Love Songs” or “Hate Songs.”  Put together a “Blissful Blend” or a “Melancholy Mix.”  The possibilities are endless.  Read on and I will walk you through creating your own custom “mixes” in Apple’s iTunes.

iTunes offers two fundamental types of playlists.  The manual playlist, which this article will cover, allows you to manually create your custom mixes however you wish.  The “smart” playlist, featured in our next iPod 101 segment, is automatically generated from criteria you specify.  These may include genre restrictions, ratings, keywords, date added, the number of times a track has been played, and more.

The quickest way to get started in creating a custom playlist is clicking the “+” icon in the bottom left corner of the iTunes library window.  You will see a new “untitled playlist” appear in the “Source” column on the left side.  The text will be highlighted already, so start typing and give it a name.  I’ll call mine “For the Road.”


Click screenshot for larger view

Click on your playlist title, and you’ll see that there are no songs present, as we must manually add them.

To add songs to your playlist, begin by clicking on “Library” in the source column.  Scroll through your library, and find a song you’d like to add.  To add it to a playlist, simply drag the song title on top of the playlist name in the Source column, and let go.  If you’d like to double check that the song was added, click on the playlist title.

Want to add a few songs at once?  You can select multiple songs by holding down shift or control while clicking on song titles.  Then simply drag any one of the selected songs onto the playlist.  All selected songs will be added.

Continue adding songs as desired.  When you’re finished, you can re-arrange the order of the songs in the playlist by simply dragging them around. 

Are you catching the interface motif?  Apple loves drag-and-drop.  In fact, here are a couple useful but lesser-known drag-and-drop tips:

First, playlists can be added to each other.  Want to add all of your “Blissful Blend” to your “Exercise Ecstasy” playlist?  In the Source column, simply drag the “Blissful Blend” title on top of “Exercise Ecstasy.”  It’s that easy.

Second, have you ever wanted to add all songs in a genre to a playlist?  Wanted to add everything from one artist?  An entire album?  Go to your Library, and click “Browse” in the top right corner to show the 3-column browse menus.  Any genre title, artist name, or album name itself can be dragged onto a playlist title, adding the entire category to it.  In addition, you can also drag into an empty area in the “Source” column to create a new playlist automatically.  For example:  In the picture below, I can either:

(1)  Add “Dark Side of the Moon” to my “For the Road” playlist, by dragging and dropping the song onto the playlist , -or-

(2)  Automatically create a “Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon” playlist by dragging it into an empty area in the ‘Source’ column.


Click screenshot for larger view

Result: (2) Automatically create a “Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon” playlist by dragging it into an empty area in the ‘Source’ column:



Other tips & features:

To view any playlist, the music store, or the radio features of iTunes in a separate window, double-click on their title in the source column. Shuffle & Repeat settings are independent between playlists - very helpful.

Enjoy listening to your playlists!  Their simplicity and function truly enhance the experience of listening to digital music - both in iTunes and on the iPod!

Stay tuned for iPod 101: iTunes “Smart Playlists” next week.

Jerrod H. is a Forum Administrator and Contributing Editor for iLounge.

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oooh! am i the first to post a comment? :) anyhow, thanks for this lesson. the part about combining [thru drag-n-drop] playlists was REALLY useful. havent tried it yet, but i have a few plans. cant wait for the next weeks class! ;)

Posted by cursif in TX on December 30, 2003 at 9:39 AM (CST)


All the software is so easy to use and works so well, I-Pods rule…...everyone gotta get one! Oh yeah the calender, datebook is great just need more and better games for i-pod….come on Mac design some new games on the next update.

Posted by Klegz in TX on December 30, 2003 at 6:29 PM (CST)


Thanx for the tips, but I think there should be a way to open a new playlist in a new window so you can drag the songs to the list where you want them. If there is a way to do this please let us know.

Posted by seano in TX on December 30, 2003 at 6:44 PM (CST)


seano— At the very end of the article, I state that any playlist, or the music store, or the radio feature can be opened in a new window by double-clicking on it.

Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on December 30, 2003 at 7:22 PM (CST)


While using the windows version of itunes, is it possible to print out a playlist of the songs?

Posted by Southside in TX on December 31, 2003 at 6:11 AM (CST)



Kind of.  Open a playlist, and do Edit—>Select All.

Now do Edit—>Copy (or right click).

Paste into MS Excel or a similar program.  There, you can edit out any columns you don’t want, format it however you wish, and—of course—print.

That’s as good as it gets for now.

Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on December 31, 2003 at 9:26 AM (CST)


can you make a playlist that is arranged by album, instead of indiviual songs

Posted by jason Aires in TX on January 1, 2004 at 3:46 PM (CST)


Yes Jason you can, simply click the title of the album column and you can sort it by album up or down, this will work for any other column as well.


Posted by Dougs in TX on January 1, 2004 at 5:22 PM (CST)


I am having trouble Burning Playlists to CD.

I can’t seem to find the burn icon referred to in Help.

I imagine it should be quite straight forward, can anyone help with this its driving me nuts.

Posted by Bjp in TX on January 2, 2004 at 8:02 AM (CST)


Upper right hand corner of itunes you’ll see the burn disk icon, it’s circular

Posted by darnskippy in TX on January 2, 2004 at 8:26 AM (CST)


I have made several playlists on iTUNES but when I plug in my iPOD, the playlists do not automatically load onto the iPOD…although any new song I have put into iTUNES DOES load up automatically…what do I nned to do to get my playlists onto my iPOD?

Posted by Mach84 in TX on January 2, 2004 at 3:35 PM (CST)


Can I make and transfer a playlist to my iPod without adding the tunes to my library?

Posted by ecwo3 in TX on January 3, 2004 at 7:07 AM (CST)


I’m already in playlist overflow mode. Can I create folders in which to store various types of playlists?

Posted by valrichardson in TX on January 3, 2004 at 8:21 AM (CST)


Whats the little check box before the individual song titles for??

Posted by ccj in TX on January 3, 2004 at 11:51 AM (CST)


This is a really simple question with hopefully a really simple solution.

How can I get my iPod playlist to be in alphabetical order by song title?  I have it sorted that way in iTunes but it doesn’t seem to want to update the list order in iPod when I synchronize.

Can anyone help, please?

Thanks and happy new year!

Posted by Cheryl in TX on January 3, 2004 at 4:17 PM (CST)


i am a recent ipod owner and itunes user before i was using itunes i was using Realone PLayer for all my music and old mp3 player i ripped all of my cds onto Realone but when i go to itunes i only have about 1.5 gigs when my music library is far larger than that. will someonle help me please find a way to import all my RealOne ripped cds to itunes? Thanks

Posted by TheiPodDude in TX on January 4, 2004 at 12:09 AM (CST)


I’m new to iTunes. Found a problem when copying songs (from CD 2 itunes) that merge into each other. Solution:
Before copying highlite the songs and under “Advanced” select “Join CD Tracks”.
You can re-label the song to reflect this action e.i. “Shoo Be Doo/Candy-O”

Posted by m1 in TX on January 6, 2004 at 6:43 PM (CST)


While I love how Itunes (Windows) works with my new IPod, I’m having some issues with using it with my old/“scroll wheel only” Ipod.  Specifically, songs that I imported to my library via Itunes by dragging from CD can not be moved into my old Ipod (but can be moved into my new one).

Any suggestions on how to resolve this problem would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by brucepiv in TX on January 6, 2004 at 9:14 PM (CST)


Hello IPOD/Itunes users…..

Where in the computer are Itunes’ playlists saved? 

And can you specify where you’d like the playlists to be saved?

Thank you.

Posted by Jason Zomick in TX on January 6, 2004 at 10:37 PM (CST)


@brucepiv : Your problem is, that iTunes rips music by default as AAC (m4a) format. This format is understood by the new iPods. For the 1G and 2G iPods you have to update the iPod software to V1.3. Another (but not so preferable) method, is to change in iTunes to .mp3.

Hope that helps

Posted by FreeBird in TX on January 7, 2004 at 5:44 AM (CST)

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