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Ask the iTunes Guy: Of track lengths, genre sorting, and remote storage

Kirk McElhearn | Feb. 10, 2014
In this week's column, I look at four interesting questions. One about setting the start and end time for tracks in the cloud, another about shunting some or all iTunes media files to another location, and two about smart playlists.

But the solution to your problem is actually quite simple. Just choose genre contains Rock as below. This will find any genre that contains that word.

Q: I have a very large music library that keeps expanding, currently stored on an iMac with 2TB of storage. Is it possible to duplicate my iTunes library, or store it remotely on a different device, yet still access it from the various machines on our home sharing network? It would be great to be able to free up some of the iMac's hard drive!

There are two solutions. The easiest is to move all of your iTunes media files to an external hard disk or to a network volume. I've got my music library on a 2TB hard drive that's connected to my Mac mini. As long as iTunes is running on your Mac, other computers will be able to access the library, no matter where the music is stored. I explained how to do this in an article about 5 years ago, but the procedure hasn't changed. (See the "Move your entire media folder" section of the article.)

The other option is to move part of your iTunes library to another disk, if you don't want to put it all in a different location. You can do this with the $15 TuneSpan. I wrote about TuneSpan for Macworld a couple of years ago.

(Disclaimer: TuneSpan is currently a sponsor on my website.)

Q: I have a playlist organized by how many times I've played songs, from the most to the least. It works in iTunes 11, but on my iOS 7 devices, it now only plays the songs in alphabetical order. Any suggestions on how to fix this?

I have the same kind of playlist. I sort the songs I listen to most by plays, not so much to listen like that, but more out of curiosity to see what I've listened to the most over the years.

When I sync this playlist to my iPhone, it shows the tracks in the correct order. So I can think of two possible solutions to your problem. The first may be that you inadvertently clicked a different column header in iTunes at some point. To display the tracks according to their play counts, the Plays header needs to be clicked, with the arrow pointing down, as below. (If the arrow points up, just click it again to change the direction.)

However, I've received lots of emails from people saying that certain playlists don't get synced to their iOS devices in the correct order. One way to fix this is to connect the iOS device to your computer, select it in iTunes, then choose to not sync that playlist. If you only sync Selected playlists, artists, albums, genres on the Music tab, then deselect that playlist, sync the device, re-check it, then sync again.


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