Optimize Your iPhone Using Playlists

Source From: CNET

Whether you're an iPod guru or an iTunes newbie, setting up the iPhone presents a new set of challenges. The underlying dilemma is that you've got an amazing convergence device with only a handful of storage. Unlike an iPod, the iPhone's limited memory has to hold a robust operating system, applications, e-mail, and Internet downloads. The good news is that with just a few little tweaks, you can customize iTunes to squeeze the most from your iPhone.

With just 4GB or 8GB of storage, the iPhone does not afford you the luxury of holding your entire digital music library. Think of your iPhone as an iPod that needs to be kept on a strict diet. Because the iPhone does not allow you to manually drag and drop music from your iTunes library, you're faced with three options--have your entire music library sync to the iPhone every time you connect to your computer; have only certain iTunes playlists sync to your iPhone; or prevent music from syncing at all.

Obviously, syncing your entire music library is impractical--in many cases, impossible--and is a surefire recipe for filling up your iPhone in a hurry. Syncing no music at all is really a non-option for music-lovers, but it's a useful space-saving option if you're just interested in podcasts or videos. What Apple really wants is for iPhone users to get used to the idea of syncing playlists--a technique we were initially hesitant to adopt, but slowly warmed to. If you want to keep your iPhone lean and mean--playlist syncing is the answer.

Playlists come in two flavors: regular, and smart. Regular playlists are a static list of songs, like a mixtape, that you can create and customize over time. Smart playlists are dynamic lists that automatically update themselves based on a set of customizable rules. You've probably already used a smart playlist without knowing it. iTunes already comes preloaded with a handful of smart playlists, including Top 25 Most Played, My Top Rated, Recently Added, and more. The included smart playlists are pretty basic, but power-users can create custom playlists that, for example, randomly pull from your library the 25 top-rated Salsa songs that have been added in the past month and were recorded before 1978. You can get real nerdy with this stuff.

We recommend a two-pronged approach. Make a regular iPhone playlist that holds your favorite desert island songs that you simply can't live without, then use a few smart playlists to keep fresh content cycling in. After you made your playlists, simply connect your iPhone, open to the Music tab, and check off your playlists on the menu. Now, let's walk through an example.

Step 1

Open up iTunes and create a regular playlist by going to the File menu and selecting New Playlist (or by clicking the "+" button in the bottom-left corner of the iTunes window). Name the playlist iPhone Playlist. This will be your list of music you simply can't live without--be stingy!

Step 2

Locate these must-have tracks in your music library and drag the files onto the icon of your newly created playlist (you can also right-click on the music selection to bring up a context menu, scroll to the Add to Playlist option, and select your playlist from the list). Try and limit this list to fewer than 50 songs at first. You can always go back and add more later.

Step 3

Create a smart playlist by going to the iTunes file menu and selecting New Smart Playlist. A smart playlist rule box will appear.

Step 4

Define your smart playlist. For this example, click the left drop-down menu that currently reads Artist and scroll down to select Genre. In the text box to the right, type in "Rock." Now click the "+" symbol to the right of the text box to create another rule for the playlist. For this rule, use the left drop-down menu on the next line down to select Date Added, then use the middle drop menu to select "is in the last", and then type 180 in the box on the right. Next, check the box under the rules that says "Limit to 25 items selected randomly". Hit OK, and with any luck you've just created a smart playlist that will continually present you with a random selection of 25 rock songs that have been added to your music library in the past six months. If rock is not your taste, feel free to change this to whatever genre you prefer.

Step 5
Connect your iPhone. Select the iPhone's icon in the iTunes Device list on the left side. You should now see your iPhone's general information tab in the iTunes main window.

Step 6

Uncheck the Sync Entire Library box and select the individual playlists that you want to sync to your iPhone. In this example, let's sync the playlists we created, plus the iTunes Recently Added playlist for good measure.

Step 7

Click the Apply button to sync your new playlist selections to your iPhone. When you're done, just eject your iPhone and you're ready to go.

Back to Tips And Tricks Page