Ipod Touch / Apple TV sync issues

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desmoscolex

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I've posted this question in both the iPod Touch and Apple TV thread as I'm not sure which issue can be solved (ie which device is the problem)

I have always synced my iPod automatically, using only checked items without any problems. However, last weekend I purchased an Apple TV and discovered that I cannot sync unchecked items to it (or at least that is how it appears). Therefore, I have created 2 additional playlists, "items for Apple TV" and "Items for iPod" and have chosen to sync these playlists to each device accordingly. All seems to sync well but only those playlists sync whereas before both playlists would appear on each device but only certain songs would transfer (ie the Apple TV playlist would appear on the ipod but only contain songs that were also in the ipod playlist).

It is annoying as I had various other useful playlists (such as recently added, not recently played....) but changing my sync options seems to remove them from my ipod (even though all the songs are there). Has anyone got a fix (other than creating many smart playlists such as "recent podcasts + Apple TV", "recent podcasts + ipod" etc and syncing each of them?
 

Sparkee

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I pretty much dedicate my Apple TV's to sync certain media then stream the rest. The ATV in the livingroom is connected to the stereo so it gets music synced and I stream podcasts, movies and TV shows.

The ATV in the bedroom is used mainly to watch TV shows before I go to sleep, there for it is set to sync 3 least recent watch TV shows. I have a large library of older sitcoms I like to watch, this gives me plenty to choose from when I shut the computer off for the night. If I watch a Movie I'll just leave the computer on and stream it.

My smaller iPod's are all set to sync selected playlists, both smart and plain ones.
 

desmoscolex

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I've now set up "sync to ipod" and "sync to Apple TV" playlists but my ipod isn't showing playlists that are not "sync to ipod". For example, if I have a playlist of items that are in "sync to ipod" and rated more than 4 stars it should show up as all the songs are already on the ipod but the only way I can do it seems to be to sync that playlist as well. Not a problem in that case but it means I need to create two "rated greater than 4 stars" playlists, one for the apple TV and one for the ipod. This means that I will have twice as many playlists which seems overkill.
When I just checked the items I wanted on my ipod all was working but it seems silly to have a 160Gb Apple TV that is only syncing 30Gb of checked items.
 

desmoscolex

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After doing some research it appears that the answer to my problem would be to be able to sync unchecked items to my Apple TV. Is there a away to do this?
 

Jesse Hollington

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You may need to readjust your playlist strategy. Sync Checked Items has never really been great as a primary way to manage what gets synced to your devices, since it also has the side-effect of preventing that content from playing in your iTunes library unless you specifically select it.

The "Checked Items" setting is generally more useful as a means to "turn off" chunks of content that you don't want to deal with at all, such as seasonal/holiday music.

The default behaviour of the Apple TV somewhat reflects this approach: Unchecked items are considered globally disabled in your iTunes library and therefore do not propagate to the Apple TV either.

Rather than creating two identical sets of playlists you might be best to look for ways in which you can optimize and combine your existing playlists so that they work well on both devices. The Apple TV should show all of your playlists regardless of whether you sync them or not since it back-ends on your live iTunes library, and as Sparkee points out, you can always stream anything that's not actually on the Apple TV.

Unless you're trying to build limited playlists to control what goes on to your iPod, you don't really need to create two of everything. For example, the same "rated 4 stars" Smart Playlist can be synced to both devices. The only reason in this case to have a different one would be if you're concerned about limiting the size of the playlist on your iPod but not on your Apple TV.

You can also build Smart Playlists based on the content of other playlists or Smart Playlists, which may help you to create more effective "nested" sub-sets of your existing playlists for situations where you actually need to have the same type of playlist on both devices.

You can also sync video content using playlists or Smart Playlists, and in this case you can choose to sync only a subset of that playlist in your actual iPod sync settings. For example, you could have a Smart Playlist that normally selects 10 unwatched episodes of a given show, but choose to sync only the least recent 3 from that playlist onto your iPod.

Note as well that the Apple TV will also take a more intelligent approach to syncing large amounts of content. If you select your entire library for synchronization to the Apple TV, it doesn't really complain, but rather squeezes on everything it can and just leaves the rest off. iTunes' priority for doing this is the same as the tab order on your Apple TV sync settings -- Movies first, then TV Shows, then Music and so on until the Apple TV is full. Note that you can override photos to sync before other types of content, but the other priorities are fixed.
 

desmoscolex

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thanks for that. So if I create a "4 stars and ipod" playlist, will it automatically sync the playlist to the apple tv but only sync the songs that are specifically selected to be synced with the rest being streamed if the playlist is selected. Most of my music will fit on the AppleTV so the real problem is (as you suggested) limiting what gets synced to my ipod.

My gut feeling is I will need to create a master playlist of songs I want on my ipod and then have smart playlists that require songs to be in this playlist (along with any other criteria) - I think this is the sub-set suggestion you made - tedious and will create lots of playlists but I suppose it's better in the long run.

It's a shame I can't use the checked items approach I used previously as that worked quite well in the past.
 

desmoscolex

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thanks for that. So if I create a "4 stars and ipod" playlist, will it automatically sync the playlist to the apple tv but only sync the songs that are specifically selected to be synced with the rest being streamed if the playlist is selected. Most of my music will fit on the AppleTV so the real problem is (as you suggested) limiting what gets synced to my ipod.

My gut feeling is I will need to create a master playlist of songs I want on my ipod and then have smart playlists that require songs to be in this playlist (along with any other criteria) - I think this is the sub-set suggestion you made - tedious and will create lots of playlists but I suppose it's better in the long run.

It's a shame I can't use the checked items approach I used previously as that worked quite well in the past.
 

rockmyplimsoul

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desmoscolex said:
My gut feeling is I will need to create a master playlist of songs I want on my ipod and then have smart playlists that require songs to be in this playlist (along with any other criteria) - I think this is the sub-set suggestion you made - tedious and will create lots of playlists but I suppose it's better in the long run.
Yes that's what you'll have to do. It is a lot of work, but once you invest the time to create a playlist sync scheme you'll really appreciate the power of iTunes. The member "Code Monkey" has authored a very helpful guide on this subject, which you'll find here.
 

Jesse Hollington

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If you were working with the checked items, I can only surmise that you never really played your music through iTunes on your computer, since that's the most common complain about using unchecked items to control iPod syncing -- any unchecked songs will be skipped in your playlists during playback.

The bottom line is that as long as you keep iTunes running on your network, then everything in your library is accessible to the Apple TV, and in fact shows up seamlessly integrated on the Apple TV itself -- you can't tell the difference between what is on the Apple TV's hard drive and what is being streamed, they're shown in the same menus.

For music, streaming is largely a non-issue since it doesn't require a lot of network performance. Syncing your video files may be more desirable, particularly for HD content, as this requires more network bandwidth and CPU power from the host iTunes computer.

As for building playlists for the iPod, you may need to create a few more, but it still shouldn't be that much of a problem if you think it through. Generally, I take the approach of creating active playlists first (ie, favourites, top-rated, etc) that I would actually directly use to listen to, and then simply go with a big "catch-all" playlist to group anything that doesn't need to be accessed from a playlist. If you wanted to control things further from there you could built your other Smart Playlists to use this "Main iPod" playlist and you still shouldn't need that many more playlists than you're using right now. After all, if you're not using the playlist to organize your music for listening then it shouldn't really matter.

As an example, try creating a Smart Playlist that gathers up all of the tracks that are currently checked. Presumably, these are the tracks you want on your iPod anyway, since this is the method you're using right now. A Smart Playlist with no criteria (UNcheck "Match the following rule") and "Match only Checked Items" should do the job.

Once you've built that Smart Playlist, select everything in it and turn it into a standard playlist (ie, go to the playlist, select-all and then choose New Playlist from Selection from the iTunes File menu). This will create a "static" playlist of your checked items. You can then delete the original Smart Playlist. This static playlist becomes your iPod "master-sync" playlist. Now, instead of checking items when you want them on your iPod, you simply move them into this playlist, and vice-versa to remove them from your iPod.

Once you have this playlist set up, simply go back to your other Smart Playlists such as "Top Rated" and so forth, and add the criteria "Playlist is" and choose your master iPod playlist. These Smart Playlists will then only contain tracks that are in that master playlist.

The end result of all of this should be one additional playlist in your iTunes library -- the master playlist to control what goes on your iPod. This won't be a playlist you'll likely ever access directly for playback, so you may want to file it into a different playlist folder or prefix it with a "Z-" to keep it out of the way when viewing playlists on your iPod or Apple TV.

Of course, this does mean that the other Smart Playlists you have will only reflect your iPod content, even on your Apple TV, but you may want to ask yourself if this is a serious concern or not based on how often you're likely to play music from these playlists on the Apple TV itself. Personally, when using my Apple TV for music playback, I tend to confine myself to my "favourites" playlists, which are static anyway and tend to be on all of my devices.

Just keep in mind also that there are some great tricks you can do with Smart Playlists if you think about it for a bit. Search around the forums and you'll find some great information on how to build some cool Smart Playlists. One of our members, Code Monkey, also has a great Smart Playlist guide, but I don't have the link off-hand (you can find it in his sig in any of his posts, I believe).
 
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