A Tip for Syncing With a Library Larger Than iPod

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thisismetcalf

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i was going to post a topic on how to do what this thread talks about: getting a library larger than your iPod's harddrive to work.

So, after reading most of the thread, am I to believe that this can only be done with playlists?

I thought that by now it would be possible to uncheck the songs you do not want transferred, and then only the checked would transfer. leaving you with playlists and a library on the iPod of only checked songs. this is not possible?
 

PCiPoder

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Sure it's possible. But if you read the thread a few posts above, you will see the problem is that unchecked songs don't play normally in iTunes.
 

Jesse Hollington

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Using Checked/Unchecked items is definitely possible, but is generally not a very practical way to do this unless you simply want to exclude a few items (in other words, sync your entire library, but leave off music from a certain genre, or a few specific audiobooks, for instance).

In addition ot the issues of these items not playing through iTunes if they're unchecked, trying to manage checked and unchecked items within your library can become a big mess very quickly. Using standard playlists and better yet, smart playlists, can be a much more effective way to handle this.
 

thisismetcalf

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well, lets look at this practically.

i have over 7000 songs, that's why the library won't fit. with this many songs, i obviously have taken a disliking to a few of them. so i really don't care if my itunes won't play the songs since i unchecked them. that's why i dont want them on my ipod. i don't like them anymore.

i haven't tried this yet, so that's why i ask, but if i uncheck, say, 2000 of these songs; then the other 5000 will transfer just fine right?

and also, with a playlist of, say, 1000 songs. and 500 are checked, 500 unchecked, then the playlist will go on the ipod with 500 checked only songs, correct?

the reason for the stupidity is because i am almost positive i have tried this and it didn't work out nearly how i wanted it to. do i have to put itunes on "auto sync everything" when i do the un-checking?
 

Jesse Hollington

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If you don't like them, then why keep them in your iTunes library at all? You could just as easily remove them completely if it simplifies your life, and even just keep a file copy of these tracks somewhere else, outside of your iTunes library, if you're concerned about keeping them around for whatever other reason.

The synchronization of checked and unchecked songs operates exclusively of any other synchronization setting, and is controlled from the checkbox on the iPod Summary tab in iTunes ("Only sync checked items"). Once you turned this option ON in the iPod settings (in iTunes), then anything without a checkmark will never be transferred to your iPod, regardless of what playlist that it is in, or even what type of item it is (this setting applies to videos, audiobooks and podcasts as well as music files).

Obviously you have to be using some form of automatic synchronization for this to work, although if you're only synchronizing selected playlists, then anything outside of those selected playlists will not be synchronized, regardless of whether they're checked or not.
 

PCiPoder

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OK, I have figured out a way that works for me. It's clumsy and unintuitive, but it does work. I had been using the check boxes to control syncing but hated it and wanted a better way. I have 15,000 songs so trial and error methods take a long, long time as the pod basically starts over each time.

To recap, here were my goals:

  • Transfer all my playlists to the iPod, whether conventional or smart;
  • Allow my smart playlists in iTunes to include synced and unsynced songs (e.g. "90s" contains all songs from the 90s whether synced or not);
  • Allow my smart playlists to use either the All or Any criteria (this is the killer because I have a lot of playlists which are "any" of a few genres, but you need to use All to exclude a playlist);
  • Leave all boxes checked so that songs play normally in iTunes;
  • Have a simple way to exclude songs from syncing that can be group edited;
  • Leave the Comment field alone, because I already use it for other things and group editing it would destroy whatever is already there.
So here's what I did. First, I made smart playlist #1 of all the checked items, by using a field that is all-inclusive (I used "Artist does not contain ###) and telling it to include only checked items. Then, I made smart playlist #2 that was everything that was not in smart playlist #1. This included all the unchecked items which I didn't want to sync. I called this "Unsync", and group edited them all and put the word Unsync in the Grouping field, which I don't use for anything else. Then I group checked all the boxes (and watched the songs disappear) and then changed the criteria so that Unsync was all items which contained that word in Grouping (and they came back). Then I renamed Smart Playlist #1 to "Sync" and made it everything which doesn't contain Unsync in Grouping. Whew...halfway there.

Then, for each smart playlist I already had, I created a second smart playlist, like so:

Existing Playlist "Britpop" = Apply Any
Genre Britpop
Genre Manchester

New Playlist "Sync Britpop" = Apply All
Playlist = Britpop
Playlist = Sync

(If iTunes had a true Boolean AND/OR criteria in place of the +/- when adding criteria to playlists this would have been much simpler. You listening Apple?)

Then I hooked up the pod, unchecked "Sync only checked items", told it to sync only the "Sync..." playlists...Five hours later...Done! That was easy :rolleyes:

Now you can easily check how many songs are in Sync and Unsync and make sure Sync doesn't exceed the iPod capacity. The Unsync playlist is not really required for the method to work, but it's nice to keep. To prevent a song or songs from syncing, you just group edit them and put Unsync in the Grouping field.

So, you wind up with double the number of smart playlists in iTunes. It's a lot, but I decided it's not so bad since you have the option of skipping unsynced songs (which you probably don't like as much) when playing thru your computer, but you can still play all your songs normally when you want to.

Unfortunately I think the goal of "smart syncing" all my conventional playlists this way will never happen. But I suppose I'm pretty much headed in the direction of using only smart playlists.

I know this process sounds ridiculous but I hope it helps someone anyway.
 
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ILoveStarburst!

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PCiPoder said:
If iTunes had a true Boolean AND/OR criteria in place of the +/- when adding criteria to playlists this would have been much simpler. You listening Apple?
I'm hearing that! That would make making complex smartplaylist (fudging by using folders) a damn sight easier - and it doesn't seem like it would be that hard to implement or cause problems(?) I did in fact email Apple with that suggestion.

I even tried to start and cumulative Wish-list Talley with a similar option. But it didn't really catch on, although I think it's the best way to organise & keep track of these simple, yet wanted features.
 
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DJ Mqt

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A somewhat different touch

My task is somewhat different from what I gather from browsing through the thread (sorry if I missed the answer to my question on the way).
I have a +100 GB library on my computer and recently bought a 30GB iPod. This means that I am not looking for a smart way of removing a few songs that I don't want to carry, but rather a setup that allows me to reliably select a small subset of my library to sync.
This is the approach that I naively selected (haven't "gone live" with it yet):

I have created a number of playlists in iTunes that ultimately will define my iPod content:
  • iSync - Here I put my complete albums and other stuff that I want to transfer but not necessarily want to have use as a playlist in my iPod (it will appear as such though on my iPod)
  • iJukebox - Here I put my favorite songs from any album and also songs that don't belong to an album (downloaded just one song or from a compilation etc). This playlist will be used on my iPod since it contains my best tracks, including several from the "iSync" album list
  • iTryout - This is the most volatile of my playlists and it includes recently downloaded stuff that I want to check out while on the go. Items that I like here will be transferred to one of the other playlists and the others deleted.
My thought is that by adding albums or tracks to these playlists in iTunes and setting them up to be "autosynced" to my iPod I will accomplish my task. A few assumptions/questions:
  • If I setup for "autosync" of these three playlists, everything else on the iPod is removed, isn't it?
  • Removing an item from the iJukebox playlist does not remove from the iPod if it is contained in the iSync playlist
  • Play count and ratings made on the iPod is transferred back to iTunes (my brief browsing of the forum makes me worried that this isn't the case)
  • I am pretty sure that I will end up with duplicates in the playlists (it isn't easy to remember if an album was added before). Is the any good way to detect (and remove)duplicates within a playlist?
Any thoughts from more experienced iLoungers on the setup?
 

Jesse Hollington

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The method above will more or less work, but you might want to consider also using smart playlists to round this out a bit.

For example, your "iTryout" playlist could just as easily be a smart playlist that selects all content added within a certain time frame. You could couple that with a rating, play count, or skip count setting to further limit it -- for example, select all tracks added in the past two weeks, except those with a one-star rating or those that have been skipped more than three times.

You could then use another playlist based on rating to select the content that you want to keep. Granted you could later move this into other standard playlists, but this could easily ensure that those tracks that you want remain on your iPod after they no longer qualify for the "recent" playlist, simply by keeping everything with a suitably-high rating. In fact, this could easily be your "iJukebox" playlist, if you simply rated all of your favourite songs appropriately.

In answer to your specific questions, most of these assumptions are correct, although to confirm, the ratings and play counts (and skip counts on a v1.2 5G iPod or 2G nano) will transfer back in any automatic sync mode. It is only in manual mode that this information does not transfer to the iTunes library (since in manual mode, there is really no "association" between the types of content, so it has no related entries to transfer that information back to).

If you're using manual playlists and dragging-and-dropping content, you will end up with duplicates. There's no easy way to clean this up automatically within iTunes itself, although you can see the duplicates by selecting the playlist and choosing View, Show Duplicates from the menu. You could then remove the duplicates manually.

If you're using a Mac, there's also an Applescript that will clean this up for you, I believe. Check out Doug's Applescripts for iTunes for some possibilities in that regard.
 

DJ Mqt

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jhollington said:
The method above will more or less work, but you might want to consider also using smart playlists to round this out a bit.
Thanks a lot! Your answer makes me tempted to go for the Smartlist option which is one of the reasons I want to give iTunes a second chance ;)

jhollington said:
For example, your "iTryout" playlist could just as easily be a smart playlist that selects all content added within a certain time frame. You could couple that with a rating, play count, or skip count setting to further limit it -- for example, select all tracks added in the past two weeks, except those with a one-star rating or those that have been skipped more than three times.
However, wouldn't that make songs disappear from my iPod if they pass over the "two weeks" time frame? I may not have had time to evaluate them then...

jhollington said:
You could then use another playlist based on rating to select the content that you want to keep. Granted you could later move this into other standard playlists, but this could easily ensure that those tracks that you want remain on your iPod after they no longer qualify for the "recent" playlist, simply by keeping everything with a suitably-high rating. In fact, this could easily be your "iJukebox" playlist, if you simply rated all of your favourite songs appropriately.
Great! I assume that you can bulk rate songs in iTunes, i.e. select a whole album and set all ratings to 3, can I?
Using Smartlists also removes my concern for duplicates, since the Smartlist will select each highly rated song only once!

jhollington said:
If you're using a Mac, there's also an Applescript that will clean this up for you, I believe. Check out Doug's Applescripts for iTunes for some possibilities in that regard.
Windows I'm afraid!
 

DJ Mqt

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Just a last-minute check-up before I Go Live:
Are the ratings stored within the mp3-files or somewhere hidden in the iTunes database? If they are placed in the mp3-files the Smartlist system proposed by jhollington would actually allow effortless rebuilding of my sync-lists even if I move files around outside of iTunes :)
 

DJ Mqt

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But if I add a file to the library that has been rated previously, will it not keep it's rating?
 

ILoveStarburst!

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DJ Mqt said:
But if I add a file to the library that has been rated previously, will it not keep it's rating?
Try it for yourself with a single song.
But I have just tried but it removed any rating by:

Adding a new song & Rated it
Closed & reopened iTunes (so the iTunes DB will save)
Deleted the song
Then Reimported the song

but no information was saved.
 

DJ Mqt

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Blast! I was hoping to get "self-populating" and really smart Smartlists to sync with my iPod.
Is there no way of writing the ratings into the files?
 

Jesse Hollington

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No, unfortunately the ratings are only stored in the iTunes database, not in the files themselves. The same holds true for play counts, skip counts, and last played/skipped times.

I believe there is an AppleScript for Mac users that will write the ratings into the 'Comments' field of a given track, and there may even be an equivalent tool for Windows, but these are really only practical for backup purposes.

Really, though, if you keep proper backups of your iTunes library, this shouldn't be an issue. iTunes' own Backup to DVD feature will preserve these ratings on a track-by-track basis for you, and you could even use this as a "restore" method to transfer your music to a different computer. Likewise, the iTunes "Export" function will produce an XML file of a specific playlist, complete with ratings, allowing for easy transfer of this information between more than one iTunes library.

Of course these ratings are also stored on the iPod itself, and there are a number of third-party tools that can copy the tracks from your iPod back to your computer, complete with the rating data.

While it would be handy to have them stored in the files themselves, it's not really necessary unless you plan to use these files outside of iTunes, in which case your smart playlists wouldn't work anyway.
 

DJ Mqt

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jhollington said:
I believe there is an AppleScript for Mac users that will write the ratings into the 'Comments' field of a given track, and there may even be an equivalent tool for Windows, but these are really only practical for backup purposes.
If the Comments field is written into the file it can be used for keeping my selection criteria IN the file.
jhollington said:
Of course these ratings are also stored on the iPod itself, and there are a number of third-party tools that can copy the tracks from your iPod back to your computer, complete with the rating data
Yes, the possibility to do ratings on the iPod (and thus affect the way things are synced through the Smartlists) was a major advantage of this setup. However, if all ratings are lost for files that are moved outside of iTunes it may become a mess.
jhollington said:
While it would be handy to have them stored in the files themselves, it's not really necessary unless you plan to use these files outside of iTunes, in which case your smart playlists wouldn't work anyway.
I know it is a bad habit, but I cannot leave my entire Library just to iTunes :)
Why wouldn't the Smartlists work if I make sure to import things after fiddling around with them outside iTunes?
 

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I seem to be doing things slightly different to everyone else, but it works so maybe it's just a change that's been made in iTunes since this thread was started.

I've made a playlist that's a bit smaller than my touch, around 7GB. This means that it will always fit, and give me a bit of room for some pictures too. Ive got the playlist set to only include checked items, and then I've unchecked things I don't want. This means I've got what I want on the iPod, and I know it'll fit cos the playlist won't get any bigger because of the rules I've set.

Now this is where I'm doing things differently. I have everything set to auto-sync, BUT it's only syncing certain playlists like the one I've just spoken about, and the usual 'top 25' etc. I've got 'Only sync checked songs' UNCHECKED, as it's already taken care of by the playlist.

Like I say, works fine for me.

Cheers for the thread, makes things easier !
 

Artless ib

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Guys Guys calm down. I just read through 7 pages and all your ways were over-complicated for my problem. My itunes is big and my nano is small. I was using the check and uncheck method but it was soo annoying as i wasnt able to listen to my music collection in full or shuffle my entire itunes when listening to music on my laptop. The solution was super simple and here is what i did in brief

~~~~Created a new playlist, Put the music i wanted on my ipod in that playlist, Under ipod options under the music tab i unchecked 'all songs and playlists' and selected the one i just made. Then hey presto-sync-tastic!~~~~~


  • Check every song in your iTunes
    Create a new playlist (named - WHATS ON THE POD)
    Double Click this playlist so it opens in a new window
    Select the albums that i want on my ipod (i use browser, click on the artist then use {ctrl & A}to select all)
    Drag and Drop them into the playlist window
    Devices>iPod. Under the music Tab i unchecked 'all songs and playlists' and then selected the new playlist only (WHATS ON THE POD)
    Then sync the ipod
    If you want new tracks just view your library by DATE ADDED

    This way my whole iTunes library was left checked and i had what i wanted on my ipod, HAPPYYYYYYY and how the hell do those bullet points work
 
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xeu

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here's how i do

ok, so I rate my songs on the ipod, no use of comments at all
no stars = yet to rate
*= not for the ipod
**=ok
****= fav. to here on my own
*****= fav. likeable for anyone

then i have 4 smart playlist that I sinc with my iPod

2gb of the least recent heard **
3gb of the least recent (**** or *****)
1gb of the most recently added unrated songs
1gb of randon unrated songs

+a manual playists made on itunes for "hot" songs
+podcast
+some tv show

let me know what you think!!!
 
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