Maintaining sort order on large playlists


Q: I’d like to create a playlist containing Rolling Stones’ Top 500 songs, and order them by the rank that Rolling Stone’s gave them in their list, i.e.:

Maintaining sort order on large playlists

I certainly want to keep the existing info for each file, track, album, etc. How would you suggest creating this type of playlist and still maintaining the ranking?

– Blake

  A: There are several ways this can be done. First, the easiest: simply create a manual playlist containing the songs in the Top 500 list. Then, put the songs into their appropriate ranking by dragging them up and down the list. Make sure that the leftmost column header is colored blue. When this is column header is active (and shuffle is off), the sort will be maintained in iTunes and sent to the iPod. Change to another column heading or turn shuffle on, and your sort will temporarily disappear. If you do this accidentally, don’t fret: your sort is still maintained, and all you have to do is reselect the leftmost column header. It’s a bit confusing that the numbers on the left don’t change as you play with the columns, but know that you can always restore your manual sort.

Sure, that method is drag-and-drop easy, but in our opinion, it’s very dangerous. If you accidentally delete that playlist, you’ve likely lost hours of dragging and dropping. How would we do it? We’d use the “Comment” tag to permanently mark each member of the list with its ranking. If you do, be sure that you’ll use something that is unique, and will correctly behave in a computerized sort. For example, we’d use something like “RS-001 through RS-500.”

You may find it worthwhile to do the first method before beginning to tag your “Comments” field, so that you can keep the “Get Info” window open, and press “Next” to advance to the next song’s “Get Info” panel directly.

With these tags in the “Comments” field, you could then create a smart playlist that looks like the following:


Then, sort the contents of the smart playlist by the “Comment” tag, in ascending mode (triangle pointing up), and you have a Top 500 list that’s simple to regenerate! Sure, it will take a lot of repetitive work to initially create, but it’s far more permanent.



One more thing: when you’re done, please post it as an iMix! We’re sure many would like the ability to view this compilation in order, with instant previews. (You can only publish 250 songs per iMix, so if you do this, you’ll have to break it up into two).

1Like a Rolling StoneBob Dylan1965
2(I Can’t Get No) SatisfactionThe Rolling Stones1965
3ImagineJohn Lennon1971
4What’s Going OnMarvin Gaye1971
5RespectAretha Franklin1967
6Good VibrationsThe Beach Boys1966
7Johnny B. GoodeChuck Berry1958

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Jerrod H.

Jerrod was a contributing editor at iLounge. He mostly wrote articles about iTunes and iPod accessories. He was known for his in-depth knowledge of both topics and was often able to provide readers with unique insights into the world of Apple products.