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Update iTunes' smart playlists on an iPod Apps
I suppose this isn't really an OS X hint, but a lot of OS X users have an iPod, and it's related to smart playlists in iTunes, so ... I have an iPod mini and sync a number of playlists to it, including several smart playlists that choose tracks randomly and have as part of their criteria, "last played not in the last 7 days." When playing one of these playlists in iTunes, this has the effect that after a song is played it gets removed from the playlist and some other track gets added to the end. But that's already been covered in another hint.

I thought that smart playlists on an iPod did not update, because when playing the same playlist on my iPod mini, I found that after playing it for a while if I pressed Menu and looked at the tracks, all the ones that had been played were still there. What I had wanted was for the smart playlist to remove the played tracks, so that when I went back to the playlist, I could pick up where I left off. Curiously, at times the playlist did seem to update as I had wanted, and the first track would be the song I left off at. Lastly, after a forced-reset, even if the playlist had previously seemed to update, sometimes it would then be reverted back to the original state. Argh -- confusing!

I finally figured out what is going on: smart playlists do update on the iPod, but they only do so if you either start playing something else (a different playlist or a track you browse for), or if you go up to the top-level menu. Actually, I found that just going up one level above the list of tracks (i.e. to the list of playlists) *seemed* to make the playlist update, but this proved to be illusory - it didn't stick through forced-resets, and that's why sometimes a playlist would seem to have updated, but after a forced reset it would be back to its original state. If, on the other hand, you go up to the top level menu, it will update for real and that update will stick through a forced reset.

The forced-reset thing wouldn't be an issue except that my iPod mini, at least, has an annoying habit of not waking up from sleep if it has been sitting unused for a long time (24 hours or more.) It doesn't always fail to wake from sleep, but it happens too often, that's for sure. I then have to force reset in order to use it again, and typically I would find the smart playlist in an old state and I'd have to search for where I'd last left off.

So, if you get into the habit of pressing the menu button a bunch of times after you pause playback, in order to go up to the top level menu, you'll be sure to have the smart playlist update, and update in such a fashion as to survive a forced reset. And life will be good.
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Update iTunes' smart playlists on an iPod
Authored by: magir on Apr 26, '05 09:49:00AM

From what I know this only works with 3rd generation iPods upwards. My 2G doesn't. It only syncs the playlists with iTunes and with that smart playlists are updated (and as it seems even that doesn't work all the time).

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Update iTunes' smart playlists on an iPod
Authored by: Dale Mox on Apr 26, '05 09:50:12AM

Thank you, I just pick up a mini 2 weeks ago and was wondering if this is the case.


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This would be so great...
Authored by: jiclark on Apr 26, '05 10:56:00AM

...if it actually works. I have a bunch of "underlistened" smart playlists that are supposed to update as you say, but thought it just didn't work on the until you synced back to iTunes.

Now let me see if I understand the hint. You're saying that for the playlist to update, i.e. drop the tracks that have just been played, then all I have to do is pause playback, go up to the top level of the menus, then go back and start playback again, and it will update every time? I will definitely check this out and post back...

I have another example which will be interesting to test. I have a 'five star' playlist for each of my genres, so that when I import something I know I like, I can just give everything five stars, then as I listen on the iPod, I can edit the ratings and have it update my Library on the next sync with iTunes. As soon as a track loses it's five-star rating, it falls off the smart playlist in iTunes. I'll have to test this to see if it makes the ones that I've dropped to four stars or lower fall off of that particular five-star list on the iPod!

Thanks for the hint, and here's hoping Apple can make this work on the fly in a future software update!


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Update iTunes' smart playlists on an iPod
Authored by: rb3 on Apr 26, '05 04:50:50PM

An enduring frustration, discussed regularly at, is the fact that Smart Playlist's with contents dependent on other Smart Playlists do not update. I have a master underplayed playlist that is all 5-star items not played in a week, PLUS all 4-stars not played in 2-weeks, etc.

If I listen to a slew of 4-stars from the 4-star list directly, then go into the master, they will all still be present. The only way I know to refresh these nested lists is to sync with my Mac. That's fine when I'm home, but it's annowying when I am on the road.

Does anyone know how to overcome this shortcoming?


512Ke, SE/30, 7500, PMG4/DualGig

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Update iTunes' smart playlists on an iPod
Authored by: Peter Kappesser on Apr 27, '05 12:50:37AM

My smart playlists seem to work fine on my 3G iPod -- maybe it has something to do with the type and complexity of the playlist criteria. I have several smart playlists for "never heard" podcasts -- those with a play count of less than 1. One is for all podcasts, and others are for particular casts (selected by artist name in addition to play count). In all cases, after playing, a track drops off both its particular playlist and the "all podcasts" playlist.

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What about with Shuffles?
Authored by: charliektm400exc on Apr 27, '05 04:26:24AM

Because a shuffle doesn't have a screen or menu's this doesn't work on a shuffle. Does anybody know of a way to update the smart playlists (based on recently played) on the mac with what has been played on the shuffle. I thought the shuffle suited me down to the ground as I always listen to random music based on star ratings, but because I also want to hear what hasn't been played lately, I would like the playlist on the Mac to update taking in to account what had been played on the shuffle. At the moment it doesn't do this.


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iPod not e=waking up
Authored by: gxw on Apr 28, '05 01:51:36AM

<i>The forced-reset thing wouldn't be an issue except that my iPod mini, at least, has an annoying habit of not waking up from sleep if it has been sitting unused for a long time (24 hours or more.)</i>

Had this issue on my G3 iPod. I found a workaround.
Set the alarm clock on the iPOD. I use the default beep not a playlist. I have the alarm set to go off at 6:00 am every day. I take it out of the cradle by 7:00 and then shuffle off to work. Never had a problem waking the unit up after I did this.

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Authored by: sjonke on Apr 29, '05 08:19:04AM
I'm embarrassed to say that I had the hint half wrong. The half that is right is that the playlist will update *and* survive a forced reset if you play something else (another playlist or whatever). What's wrong is that just pressing menu a bunch of times to go to the top level menu will also result in the playlist update surviving a reset - actually the playlist will appear to update, but it will not survive a reset - I got tricked again! Unfortunately this means there isn't a super-simple solution of just pressing menu a bunch of times. :(

However, I have come up with a workaround that is at least doable without looking at your iPod, but not as simple/convenient. The trick is that playing something else can also just be playing the same thing but via a different menu path. So...

Set your main menu to include "Playlists" if you haven't already. Now, whenever you play your smart playlist(s), start playing it via the top-level "Playlists" menu, not the "Music" menu. When you are done listening, press PAUSE to pause playback, press MENU 3 TIMES to get to the top-level menu. SCROLL UP (counter-clockwise). That will put you at the "Music" menu item and you don't have to look at it to know you're there as "Music" is always the top menu item. Now press SELECT 4 TIMES to start playback. The way the iPod works, this will automatically navigate you right back to the same playlist and start playback, but via the "Music" menu instead of the top-level "Playlists" menu. Lastly press PAUSE to stop playback again. The playlist will now be updated in such a way as to survive a reset.

In short:

For convenience for next time you might then want to press MENUx4 again to get back to the top-level menu, but that isn't necessary as far as getting the playlist update to survive a reset is concerned.

Definitely not as nice, but it does work and you can do it without looking. Now, hopefully I have a valid hint. :)

--- What?

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Authored by: cheezmo on Jun 29, '05 11:40:00AM

It looks like the latest iPod firmware (1.2 for my iPod photo) completely breaks smart playlist updating on the iPod. One clue is that smart playlists now start playing immediately (it doesn't think to update them, etc.). Some testing I've done with navigating to the top, starting other playlists etc. proves to me they just aren't updating.

I even created a simple smart playlist based on rating. Changed the rating of a song, and it still appears on that playlist.

Very disappointing!

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