Q: I’m in the process of choosing music to put onto my iPhone. I want all songs from certain albums, and only a few from others. I’ve heard the best way to do this is to sync only checked songs, instead of what I’ve been doing, which is syncing artists. So, is that really the best, most efficient way? If I were to uncheck a bunch of songs, would it affect the other users’ sync too? My husband and I both use the same iTunes library and I wouldn’t want him to not be able to sync the songs that I don’t want to his iPhone/iPod.
A: Syncing only checked songs will work, although it may not be the most efficient method and will also affect how your playlists work within iTunes itself. Keep in mind that an UNchecked song is never played as part of a playlist or shuffle mode unless you specifically select it, so any unchecked songs in your library will be skipped over during playback in iTunes.
You can choose which devices exclude unchecked items through the “Sync Only Checked Items” option which appears on the Summary tab in iTunes for each of your iPods.
However, this is an all-or-nothing setting for each iPod, as you only have one set of checkmarks to work with. So you could easily exclude music you don’t want on your iPod, but your husband would have to either exclude the same checked items or sync everything regardless, depending on the “Sync Checked Items” setting for his iPod. Further, the Apple TV does not presently have any Sync CHecked Items option—unchecked items are always excluded from the Apple TV.
An alternative method that may be worth considering is the use of selected Playlists instead. You can easily organize the music you want on your iPod into specific playlists, and even organize those playlists into playlist folders to group them together. Smart Playlists can also be used to automatically select tracks from certain genres, artists and albums or even based on criteria such as how recently or often you’ve listened to a given track. Once you have that organized, you simply need to go to the “Music” tab for your iPod and choose those playlists that you want to sync to your device.
This has the advantage of being more easily supported across multiple iPods, since you can each use your own set of playlists for each device, sharing those playlists that you have in common and keeping separate playlists for your own personal tastes. Further, since you’re not unchecking any tracks as part of this process, this doesn’t affect the playback of those tracks in iTunes itself.
For more information on how to setup, manage and sync playlists check out our Guide to Album Tagging, Art and Playlists in iTunes.