Advanced Smart Playlists


Q: I’m trying to set up a smart playlist of my four- and five-star rated Morrissey and The Smiths songs. I am of course able to set up one Artist with a rating range but when I add the second artist and the subcategory I come up with no hits. Played around with all my any/all settings and nothing seems to work. What am I doing wrong?

Advanced Smart Playlists

– Adam

A: Prior to iTunes 9 it would have been necessary to create a secondary Smart Playlist to handle this, since in those earlier versions you couldn’t mix both AND and OR criteria in a single Smart Playlist—you were forced to either match ALL criteria or ANY criteria listed in the Smart Playlist. Since a single track can’t be by two different artists, a request to match ALL criteria with more than one artist listed would never match any tracks at all, and switching to use ANY criteria would match too many tracks.

Fortunately, iTunes 9 introduced the ability to create multi-layered Smart Playlists, allowing you to mix different criteria in the same Smart Playlist. The secret to this is to add a new criteria group by clicking the ellipsis button at the left of the first criteria line, which will add a secondary criteria group. You can actually nest criteria up to five levels deep and there is no practical limit to how many criteria groups you can have at each level, allowing you to create extremely complex Smart Playlists.

A Smart Playlist similar to the following should do what you want:

Advanced Smart Playlists

Note that if you’re still using an older version of iTunes, the best idea is to simply upgrade to iTunes 9 or later so you can create these more complex Smart Playlists. If for some reason you absolutely need to remain on an older version then you will need to setup a Smart Playlist to group your Morrissey and The Smiths tracks (using match ANY) and then another Smart Playlist to select all tracks in the first Smart Playlist and select the rating (using match ALL).


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Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.