Selectively Sync iTunes Tracks With Stars Instead Of Checkboxes

If your music library is bigger than your iPod, you probably use playlists or iTunes' checkboxes to tell iTunes which songs you do and don't want synced. Mac|Life recommends using the star system instead.

Everyone has slightly different needs when it comes to music libraries and syncing, but this method might work for some of you. I myself have found that I didn't like iTunes' checkboxes, since it does more than just exclude them from my iPod — it also skips them when I'm playing through my library, which I don't want. You could manually create a playlist of tracks you want to incldue or exclude, but that isn't the most user-friendly. You can't see, from your library, if a track is already on the list, and if you want to quickly mark something as "sync" or "don't sync", you have to see if it's on the playlist, then drag it on or off.

Instead of dealing with these imperfect systems, Mac|Life recommends just rating unwanted songs as one star, and creating a smart playlist containing all tracks where the Rating is not one star. Then, just sync that playlist to your iDevice. You'll not only be able to view the playlist as-is whenever you want, but you'll also be able to see, when you're scanning through your library, which songs are and aren't part of your iPod's library. Plus, iTunes won't skip them when you play them on your computer (seriously, that feature is really annoying. If I didn't want it to play I wouldn't have it).

Of course, this doesn't necessarily work as well if you actually use the star rating feature. It might, if the songs you aren't syncing are the lower-rated songs, which is likely — but if the two don't coincide this method won't work. For others, though, this is one of the better workarounds I've seen for managing a limited version of my library without going a little crazy.

How to Use Star Ratings to Delete Songs from Your iPhone [Mac|Life]


    I've taken this two step further. 1) I setup a folder for each ipod with 2 playlists. 1 is for full albums - there's always a few you want on hand. The second is a automated playlist based on star rating.

    I've got a star system whereby any single gets 1 star. Then anything I like (single or otherwise) gets 2 stars or above. So for the big ipod in the car I'll throw in everything - but for my gf's little nano she grabs 3 stars and above.

    I'ts hard to do retroactively but if you star any new singles as you buy/import it and then update the stars when you decide you like a song. With currently just under 19,000 tracks (I have a huge CD collection) this setup is super useful.

    The next step is to filter the playlist on my partner's ipod so she no longer gets certain genres - but that's a whole lot more clean up work.

    My method is kind of a combination of this and the 'not' playlist you featured last week, and a little bit more.

    I have a playlist folder called "IgnoreThese". Inside it contains three playlists:
    - a smart playlist for 1 star rated songs (I use 1 star for 'stuff that isn't music', like dialogue from soundtrack albums, sound effects, long comedy sets and so on)
    - a manual playlist where I keep duplicate songs (the iTunes Duplicates view is my starting point, but I find it still requires some manual intervention to get it right)
    - a manual playlist where I drag stuff I don't want to sync otherwise (instead of deselecting it)

    I then have a "Not Ignored" smart playlist which selects stuff not in the IgnoreThese playlist folder. I guess I could limit this playlist by size/genre/whatever as well, but I find it is just about right for my needs.

    FWIW, the Not Ignored playlist itself sits inside a playlist folder called "Sync These", which also holds all the other playlists I have set up that I want on my phone too. Not Ignored is sort of my "Other" category, minus the stuff I definitely don't want. I set iTunes to only sync the Sync These folder to my phone.

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