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Creating and Using Playlists in iTunes 10

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In this lesson, you learn about one of iTunes most useful features: playlists. Playlists enable you to customize your iTunes experience as much as you want. And, you usually create a playlist as part of other tasks, such as moving content onto an iPhone, iPod, or iPad. In addition, iTunes creates several playlists for you that are quite useful and fun.
This chapter is from the book

Understanding Playlists

Simply put, playlists are collections of content in your Library that you create, that iTunes creates for you based on criteria you define, or that iTunes creates mostly on its own. The three types of playlists you learn about in this lesson are as follows:

  • Standard. A standard playlist (which I just call a playlist from here on) is a set of content you define manually. You put the specific songs or videos you want in a playlist and do what you will with them. You can include the same song multiple times, mix and match songs from many CDs, put songs in any order you choose, and basically control every aspect of that content collection.
  • Smart. A smart playlist is smart because you don't put content in it manually. Instead, you tell iTunes which kind of content you want included by the attributes of that content, such as genre or artist, and iTunes picks the playlist's content for you automatically. For example, you can create a music playlist based on a specific genre, such as jazz, that you have listened to in the past few days. You can also configure various properties of a smart playlist, such as how much content it contains. The really cool thing is that smart playlists can be dynamic, meaning the content they contain is updated over time based on criteria you define. As you add, listen to, or change content in your Library, the contents of a smart playlist can change to reflect what you've done.
  • iTunes-created. There are several playlists that iTunes creates for you. The purchased playlists automatically contain the content you've downloaded from the iTunes Store; there's a purchased playlist for each device on which you downloaded content. The iTunes Genius creates playlists that are "like" songs you choose, and it creates mixes for you. There's also the iTunes DJ that creates playlists for you on-the-fly; if you have a network, other people can request songs for the iTunes DJ to play.

The last thing to understand about playlists is that they don't actually contain content; they only contain pointers to content in your Library. This means a track can appear in multiple playlists at the same time, but there is only one actual file for that content. This means you can add or delete items to a playlist without changing the content in your Library.

There are many ways to use playlists: you can listen to or watch them, put them on discs, move them to an mobile device, share them over a network, and much more. Over time, you might find that playlists are one of the most useful and fun features iTunes offers.

Because they are so useful, you are likely to create and use a lot of playlists. Fortunately, you can use folders to keep your playlists organized in the Source pane; all the playlists you create are stored in the appropriately named PLAYLISTS section of the Source pane. (iTunes-created playlists appear in other places.)

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