Smart playlists, photo albums and mailboxes

Smart playlists, photo albums and mailboxes
Tip #196/18-May-2005

I have much music and spoken word audio stored in iTunes including classical, new age, folk, Audio Books and podcasts.

I have these organised into Playlists, such as all the classical, all the Audio Books and so on, but if I buy a new Audio Book then I have to remember to add it to my playlist.

Smart Playlists

iTunes can make this easier with its Smart Playlists.

Instead of manually assigning a track to a playlist I set up an automated search with live updating. I tell iTunes that if a track is in the category “Audio Book” then it should be listed in the Smart Playlist.

If I buy a new Audio Book then iTunes notices and adds it to the playlist without my having to do anything. In iTunes you’ll find New Smart Playlist under the File menu.

Smart Folders

This kind of automation is exactly the work your computer should be doing for you, and Apple are now extending it beyond iTunes.

If you have Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4) you can now set up a Smart Folder to contain certain files.

In iPhoto 5 you can create a Smart Album — for example, all the photos which have both the keyword Dog and the keyword Flower but not the keyword Cat.

Smart addresses

In Address Book 4 you can make a new Smart Group — perhaps everyone whose address is in Wellington and where the Birthday is in the next 12 months.

Smart mailboxes

In Mail 2 you can set up a new Smart Mailbox or even a Smart Mailbox Folder. This might, for example, contain all the messages from my friend Rachel, but only if they mention my cat Aphra.

Smart folders and smart searches are enormously useful. Start looking in the software you use to see if it has the smarts. And whether you’re using Tiger or an earlier version of Mac OS X you can practice by creating a few Smart lists in iTunes.

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