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Ask the iTunes Guy: Organizing media files, mixed genre smart playlists, and too-long syncs

Kirk McElhearn | April 7, 2014
You can do a lot with smart playlists in iTunes, and sometimes the questions I get from readers make me discover ideas that I had never thought of. In this week's column, I show you how to create a smart playlist with a certain percentage of songs from different genres. I also talk about organizing iTunes media files, slow syncing of iOS devices, and how to find a lost password for an Apple ID.

If you've forgotten your Apple ID, that page can also help you find it. Click Forgot your Apple ID? and answer questions regarding your name and email address, as well as prior email addresses. You'll then be asked a number of questions to confirm your identity.

Mixing up genres

Q: I have a smart playlist that contains several genres: jazz, rock, and R&B. But I would like to create a smart playlist with each of those genres, where 40 percent of songs are rock, 20 percent jazz, and 40 percent R&B. Is this possible?

You can't do this in a single smart playlist, but I've come up with a solution. You'll need to start by creating three smart playlists--one per genre. For the first one, set the condition Genre is Rock, and limit it to 40 items selected by random.

When you've done this, create a new smart playlist, where Genre is Jazz and limit it to 20 items. A third smart playlist should be Genre is R&B, and limit it to 40 items. The numbers I've used correspond to your percentages.

Next, create another smart playlist and choose Playlist is Rock. This means that this smart playlist gets music from the Rock smart playlist. Click the plus (+) button to the right of that condition and add another condition--Playlist is Jazz. Add a third condition, Playlist is R&B. Limit it to 100 items selected by random. Make sure that Match all of the following rules appears at the top of the window.

When you play this playlist, it will choose from a playlist of 100 tracks, taking them at random from the three genre playlists. If you want the three genre smart playlists to change their content you could add a condition, such as Last played not in the last 7 days. That way you wouldn't hear the same tunes all the time. Rather, these playlists would change dynamically as tunes are played (and then not played again because of this condition).

Syncing takes too long

Q: I have an iPod touch that I use exclusively for music. I find syncing to be very slow. All I want to do is plug in the iPod touch and wait the 15 seconds I believe it should take to sync only what has been recently changed in my iTunes library. But sometimes it takes a full half hour to sync. Is there any way to fix this?

I've had this problem on my iPhone, notably since iOS 7. Sometimes it takes a very long time to get to the point where iTunes even starts to copy items, and sometimes it copies hundreds of songs that haven't changed since the previous sync.


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