Clean up iTunes
Mac Tip #222/23-November-2005
When I import music into iTunes I know the tracks will probably be there to stay. I also download a lot of Podcasts though and this content is more ephemeral; by and large once I’ve listened to a podcast I no longer need to keep it. Given that some feeds have glitches and sometimes send the same items more than once I like to keep each episode for a few weeks so I can more easily eliminate unwanted duplicates.
When I listen to a podcast I assign it a one star rating — that means I’ve listened to it. Two stars means I started listening and haven’t finished yet. I reserve more stars for giving music actual ratings.
iPod and iTunes also mark a track as played, with a date and time stamp, but it seems to me that those timestamps sometimes disappear for no reason, so the stars are a useful way to double check status.
If there’s a podcast I deem worthy of keeping indefinitely I add the word ‘Keeper’ to the comment area.
To remove unwanted tracks from the iTunes Library I use a smart playlist. It displays any podcast tracks which have one star and were last played more than 4 weeks ago. The playlist excludes any tracks whose comment field contains the word Keeper. Each day I look at this playlist and delete the files.
The catch is that normally if you delete a track from a playlist then you don’t remove that track from the whole Library. So the trick is not to press the Delete key, but instead Option Shift Delete. After confirming the file will be removed to the Mac’s trash.