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.