Tips and How-To's: iPhone Music Management

I have a 160GB iPod Classic that is almost filled to the brim with media: songs, podcasts, movies, tv shows, and photos. Just in music alone, I could fill my 16GB iPhone 3G many times over. I wish my iPhone had 32GB or, heck, since we're wishing, I'll go for 120GB or the equivalent of my iPod. Alas, I have 16GB to work with and I want to carry plenty of apps, photos, podcasts, and videos with me and there's little room around the edges to squeeze in some of my favorite tunes. However, there is a way to keep your music fresh and updated so it seems like you are carrying far more music on your iPhone than you may have thought. Read on to find out how!

The secret to making your iPhone feel like a 160GB iPod Classic juggernaut is just a few mouse clicks away on your iTunes. Just click on "File" in iTunes, then New Smart Playlist. See where this is going? When you select New Smart Playlist, you can customize a playlist and instruct your iTunes about what music to look for and then keep your iPhone updated with a constant flow of fresh material. It's a bit like rotating your entire music collection through your iPhone a 100 songs (or whatever you want) at a time.

You can get quite specific with your selection of music. You can instruct iTunes to seek out and load music that has been most recently played or least recently played. You can set the rules for iTunes to follow - like using the rating system in iTunes to select only music that you have given a 1 - 5 star rating. What, you mean you haven't rated your music?

Well, if you're like me, you haven't paid much attention to the rating system or even cared to know why it's there. If you take the time, though, and rate your favorite music, then your Smart Playlist can become much more meaningful as iTunes searches your music library for songs that you have rated. To rate your music, just click in the Rating column next to the songs you want to rate and then give them a rating, anywhere from one to five stars. In the Smart Playlist, if you set the range to include only your most favorite songs, then you can expect your Smart Playlist (and thus your iPhone) to always rotate your favorite songs each time you sync.

Smart Playlists aren't just limited to songs. You can instruct iTunes to select all kinds of media, like podcasts, to be added to your Smart Playlist and then synced with your iPhone for your enjoyment. In this manner, you can rotate your media from the vast reservoirs of storage on your desktop or laptop to the limited space on your iPhone, always keeping it fresh. If you haven't played around with your Smart Playlist, give it a try today and post your feedback in Comments. You might find a way to use this feature that works well for you and then feel free to share it with the rest of us!

 

 

 

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There are 25 comments. Add yours.

Johnny says:

I read about this in an iPhone book a year ago and thought it was a great idea. One problem, it currently doesn't work. The iPhone doesn't update your play count. So this great feature is made almost useless by an iPhone bug. When you listen to a song on your iPhone it should sync this information in itunes when you next sync it but it doesn't. So you end up hearing the same song over an over again unless you listen to your music all the time in your itunes library. Hopefully Apple fixes this bug soon.

johaen8 says:

I simply just use the "Sync only checked songs and videos" option, and then just check off the songs I want to have on my iPhone. Although I only have about 3 GBs of music, 2GBs of which I keep on my phone.

Perceval says:

For the Smart Playlist with podcasts, why not just use the rule "Podcast: is true?"
@Johnny: My iPhone updates the play count, I don't see why it wouldn't...

Steve Jobs says:

useless post. no offense

mikey says:

I agree, what a useless post...

Jhauser3 says:

Wow...Rough crowd around here... I like the randomness of this, so I will have to give it a shot.

Taylor says:

I really wish for more posts like this....
I'm running out of room on my 8gb iPhone (ionly have like 1 gb of music.) most is movies.
I need more room!
Thanks!

coolbell says:

okay so if its pointles.. dont read it and dont flame. i dont think the author of this post done it a) for fun and b) to annoy you! just let it go.
nice ideas. i just currently use only a few playlists and also include recently added. use my touch 16gb to make up for lack of space!

Steve says:

I don't use the iPod. I'm tired of old music, and I hate new music.

Wyatt says:

To those who feel this is a useless post. Dont post you're useless comments. If you have nothing worthwhile to say then say nothing.
Now in to what I do with playlists. I use a star rating of 5 for my most favorite songs I don't get tired of and make a playlist if that. I also use a separate playlist for my holiday music which is only on my iPhone only during the holiday season at the end of the year.

Jose says:

Well I highly recommend Simplify Media, for those of you who don't know what it is, its an application you download on your iPhone and your computer. Than you can stream all your music library right to your phone, even add other people with this service and stream their music as well. Streams over Edge, 3G, and WiFi. The service is free but the iPhone app is only 3.99. I use it and I love it! (Just streams music, Video not supported) Hope this helps some peoples dilemma.

Ed says:

i guess the issue being that isn't this of limited utility because smart playlists don't essentially change unless you change the parameters of the list? it's not like you can make one composed of 300 random songs of the rock genre and get a new 300 every time you sync. you need to either change the playlist or delete and make a new smart playlist to actually get a new selection of random songs.
what we really need is the random fill like itunes does with ipod shuffles.

frog says:

My iPhone updtes the playcount.
Nice tips !

melwan says:

@Steve Jobs: shouldn't you be in your basement enjoying yr Bold?

WatersWest says:

One of the great features of the iPod Shuffle is Auto-Fill. For those of you unfamiliar with this, iTunes basically can randomly re-fill your Shuffle whenever you tell it to, either from the whole library or from a playlist.
It's really too bad they don't make this feature available to both the Nano and the iPhone. I imagine it would be put to good use if if it was.

ethan says:

Use Simplify Media or Orb Live to stream all your music/media to your phone from your computer. It works great.

Steve says:

@ethan:
Do these streaming apps, like Simplify Media and OrbLive require moving (or copying) your media into their desktop applications, or can just you keep everything in iTunes?

Steve Jobs says:

I still say this is useless.
I have to play or rate songs not on my iPhone so the smart playlist can pick up on it and some day move it to my iphone? Unless you are rating new songs all the time, its not going to give you 100 new songs that rotate. And if you are rating new songs, just move those into new playlists.
Here's an equally useless idea: have 10 playlists each with 16gb of music on it and sync a different one every day.
epic fail

Steve Jobs says:

@steve jobs
loving my Bold. my old iphone still working well for Tris, etc.

Steve Jobs says:

@steve
simplify media is great but it streaming direct from itunes. Aside from issues with playing over the net vs having physical file on your iphone, its a great way to access your entire library

Seatown says:

At first I thought this was a great idea, and set it up to synch a random playlist of 3 gb of music rated 3 stars and up. Then I realized that now it's going to have to copy 3 gb worth of data each time I synch! And I thought it took a long time to synch before...!! Am I missing something here?

John V. Keogh says:

The iPhone certainly can update play count and time and sync this to iTunes. I use iScrobbler to send this data to last.fm. So far 58502 tracks played - can you tell what it is I like yet? http://www.last.fm/user/jovike
What I do is have my faves * and *** songs on the iPhone all the time and rotate a few least recently played ** and least recently played ** songs (in smart playlists) which I will delete later if I rate them as * while on the road.

John V. Keogh says:

duh - stars used for formatting eh, that should read
What I do is have my faves 4 and 5 star songs on the iPhone all the time and rotate a few least recently played 3 star, and least recently played 2 star songs (in smart playlists), which I will delete later if I rate them as 1 star while on the road. I also have a few unrated songs in a smart playlist so I can rate them on the phone.

Jim says:

If you use either 'Last played is not in X days' or check the 'limit to X songs by least recently played' box Songs will drop off smart playlists as you listen to them. When you sync your iPhone you will only need to add as many songs as you listened to from the last sync, not update the entire list.
I use a playlist for my podcasts with the rule 'playcount is less than 1', after I listen to them the re removed at the next sync. There was a bug that prevented playlists with the rule 'podcast = true' from live updating. I don't know if its been fixed since I have made my playlists to work around it.
Currently I keep all my 3 stars or more tracks on my iPhone and have a playlist 'Last played is not in the last month' and 'limit to 3gb by random' for my two star tracks. (I use 1 star for music I haven't rated yet).
Every time I plug in my iPhone listened to podcasts are removed, new podcasts are added, and 2 star songs that I have listened to are replaced with fresh ones. I always have my favorite 1500 songs and another 1000 or so that I like on my iPhone.
The only downside is I don't have access to every deep cut I own at all times. [Grandpa] Back when I was a kid if we wanted to carry 4000 songs we needed to haul a backpack full of CDs and something to play them on. [/grandpa]

Roman says:

Good article and perfect procedures! Thank you!