iTunes 9.1 – Smart Playlist Sort Order Still Wonky

In iTunes, I use a Smart Playlist to keep track of and to order my podcasts.

I like to order them by assigning to them a rating each morning before I head out on my daily travels. There are a few podcasts to which I assign 5 stars that take priority over everything – current news – then there are things in which I am very interested so they get 4 stars and then 3 and fewer stars are given to nice-to-hear shows.

I’ve lately taken to using the “Sort Artist” column to sub-sort the podcasts. By putting in the date (i.e. 20090924) it keeps them in order of receipt from oldest to newest. The end result is that I don’t end up listening to all my same-named podcasts clustered together but rather hear them interspersed among each other in the order in which they were published.

My expectation is that, on my iPod, the sort order will be the same as it is in iTunes. Not so anymore. Nowadays, the order somewhat follows the primary sort (I sort on “Rating” and everything else follows). On the iPod, rather than sorting from most to fewest stars, it currently sorts the opposite way and the sort within the stars follows absolutely no rhyme or reason – not alphabetically either by “Sort Artist” or by “Name”.

In fact, I took some time yesterday to experiment and it does not sort on ANY of the hidden sort fields or any visible fields for that matter.

I tried the suggestion of right-clicking on the playlist and clicking “Copy to Play Order” but this has absolutely no effect. I further tried editing the Smart Playlist and unchecking the “Live Updating” checkbox. This only resulted in NONE of my podcasts showing up in the iPod playlist, even though all looked fine in iTunes.

I understand that this is a major glitch in iTunes and have read many posts of folks complaining about this, so I suppose I’ll sit pretty while waiting for Apple to get around to fixing it. This post is mostly for folks who are experiencing the same issue to stumble across to see what I’ve tried and to know that their issue is shared.

10 thoughts on “iTunes 9.1 – Smart Playlist Sort Order Still Wonky”

  1. Just searching for a solution tot his problem. I have the same exact use case as you, and submitted issues to Apple for both iTunes 9.0 and 9.0.1. I wish there were a way for them to post which issues they are working on and an *estimated* release

  2. @Marc – Hi Marc,
    I agree. I did not realize that you *could* submit such issues. I’ll do likewise tonight to add that much more weight behind the issue. Hopefully if enough folks report something it gets greater priority from Apple’s developers.

  3. I’m having the same issue. I use my iPod in my car and the stereo can’t see the Podcasts list by itself, therefore I’ve created a smart playlist that selects podcasts that have a playcount of 0. I like to sort this by Release Date, which works in iTunes. However, once I sync to my iPod, the same playlist on my iPod is sorted by some other column allogether. I think this is the same issue you are having. Very frustrating!

  4. @Brian – My Ipod suffers the same issue, in fact the playlist has songs on it on the ipod that aren’t on the same playlist on itunes. Done every thing you can imagine. Only solution that works is to just create a new playlist and copy the smartplay list into it manually. Insanity…spent an hour and a half… If I had just bought this thing I would return it. But it worked fine for 5 months.

  5. I have a work around for this – it creates a smart play list that does not update on the iPhone, but every time it is synced it will update.

    Create a smart play list with the podcasts you want – say My Podcasts. (Mine is playcout is 0, Genre is Podcast, Name does not contain “XX” – XX is a podcast with commercials I don’t want in the regular play list where I can’t always FF thru them)

    Create a new smart playlist “Playlist is My Podcasts”. The trick is you have to select Limit to XX items (I have it set to 25, and by Random) and select Live Updating. Choose how you want it sorted (I choose Release Date) and it will sync to the iPhone – of course it will not update until the next sync.

  6. @Arthur Dent – Thanks Arthur (heard any good Vogon poetry lately?),

    I tried this, modified slightly so that rather than selecting 25 randomly, I selected based on highest rated. But still the secondary sort fails for me 🙁

    It’s beginning to seem like the ability for the iPod (and I presume iPhone) to sort by the “sort” columns will be forever beyond Apple’s ability to program.

    It *seems* simple enough. I choose sort by rating in iTunes and it secondarily sorts by the “sort” columns. But the iPod either doesn’t carry these fields or the programmers simply decided not to honor them.

  7. Thanks Doug! That absolutely resolved the issue for me. Since I regularly prune my podcasts (easier since figuring out how to re-enable auto delete) I have no capacity issues.
    I’m finally able to easily order my playlists before my commute!

    Thanks again!

  8. 1. You’ve already created a smart playlist that doesn’t sort properly. Let’s say it’s called “Awesome Playlist.”

    2. Now, create a *new* smart playlist with the condition: Playlist is “Awesome Playlist.”

    It’ll sort properly.

    (Yep, it’s still a bug, and yep, Apple still needs to fix it.)

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