You have a healthy collection of music and other content in iTunes or the Apple Music app but don’t always want to listen to an entire album. Sometimes you just want to hear your favorite songs. That’s when you turn to playlists. You can create a playlist in iTunes or Apple’s Music app and sync it with your phone or tablet, or you can create a playlist directly on your mobile device. You can also create multiple playlists for Movies, TV Shows, and Podcasts.
If you’re running macOS Catalina or higher on a Mac, you can use the Apple Music app. Anyone using a Windows PC or an older Mac will use iTunes. Both programs work similarly.
Create a New Playlist
You can create your own playlists a couple of different ways. In iTunes or the Music app, click File > New > Playlist to create a new entry under the Playlists section. Type the name you want to give to your new playlist, such as the name of an artist or genre.
Click on the Songs entry to see your library of individual songs. Find the tracks you want added to the playlist and drag them over to the new playlist entry. Select multiple songs at once using Shift + Click or Ctrl + Click in Windows and Shift + Click or Command + Click on macOS.
Another way to add a song is to right-click on the song, hover over Add to Playlist, and select the playlist. You can also create a playlist if you select the individual songs you want added, then right-click on any of the tracks. Hover over Add to Playlist, then select New Playlist to make the songs appear on the playlist.
You can edit your playlist a number of ways. To remove a song, right-click on it and select Remove from Playlist from the pop-up menu.
You can also rearrange the order of the songs. Select and drag a song up or down in the list. Release your mouse when the song is nestled in its new spot.
Want to add a brief description of the playlist? Right-click on the album art and select Add Description. You can also burn the songs to a CD if you click Burn Playlist to Disc.
Create a Smart Playlist
While playlists must be created and managed manually, a smart playlist is automatically updated as you add music to your library. You can create one of these by opening File > New > Smart Playlist, then selecting the rules the playlist will use.
Keep the content selection as Music, then use the drop-down menus to set the rules for the playlist. The first menu gives you a wide range of choices, including Artist, Album, Composer, Genre, and Year. At the second drop-down menu, you can choose different criteria, such as “contains” or “does not contain.”
Use the open field to enter the name of an artist, album, genre, or other item based on what you chose in the first menu. iTunes automatically tries to predict the name you want. Select the correct name. To add more than one rule, click the + sign. Select a type such as Artist, Album, Genre, or Year. Pick the criteria and then enter information to complete the rule.
When you’re done, make sure the option for Live updating is checked, then click OK. Assuming you didn’t specify a limit for the number or length of items in the list, your playlist automatically grows as you add new music that matches your rules.
Want to get rid of a playlist? Right-click on it and select Delete from Library from the menu, or just select it and press the Delete key on your keyboard.
Edit iTunes Automatic Playlists
Notice on the left pane that iTunes has already created some playlists for you from music you’ve purchased, songs with certain elements in common, and music you’ve frequently played. Click one of these playlists to check out the songs.
iTunes manages and continually updates these automatic playlists as you listen to and add more music, but you can change the rules for how they’re modified. Open one of these playlists and click the Edit Rules link under the playlist title.
You can now change some of the criteria for the playlist, such as the duration, type of media, and number of items. Click OK when done for your changes to take effect.
Create Playlists for Movies, TV Shows, or Podcasts
You can also create playlists for TV shows, movies, podcasts, and audiobooks. If you’re on a Windows PC or using an older version of macOS, you can do this in iTunes. Mac users running Catalina or higher can turn to the Podcasts app.
In iTunes, select the library you want to see, such as TV Shows or Podcasts. Then follow the same steps described for creating music playlists. The process is slightly different in the Podcasts app. Instead of creating a playlist, you create a station and then add your selected podcasts and episodes.
Now, maybe you want to sync your playlists with your iPhone or iPad so you can listen to them on the go. Connect your device to your computer. In iTunes, click the icon for your device. On a Mac with Catalina or higher, open Finder and select your device.
Select the library that contains the playlist you want to sync, such as Music or TV Shows. In the Sync window, check the playlists that you want to sync. Click the Apply or Sync button to sync your selected content, including the playlists you checked.
After the sync is finished, segue to your device. Open the app that holds the playlists you sync. Tap the Playlists entry and you should see the synced items.
Create a New Playlist on iPhone or iPad
You can also bypass your computer and create a playlist directly on your iPhone or iPad. At the Playlists screen on your device, tap the New button in the top-right corner of the screen or the New Playlist button. Type a name and description for your playlist and then tap Add Music.
At the Library window, select Songs, Albums, or another category that you want to view to grab the items for your playlist.
Drill down to view the items you want to add. Tap the + icon next to a track you want to include in your playlist. When you’re finished adding your items, tap Done in the upper-right corner of the window.
The items you selected appear in your new playlist. You can add more items, remove existing items, and change the order of your current items. When you’re finished, tap Done. You can now tap your new playlist and enjoy the tunes.
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