How do YOU organize your iTunes library?


My buddy just outgrew his iMac's hard drive so he bought a really nice Lacie external drive and asked me to come over and migrate iTunes, etc.

I literally laughed when I started poking around his music. He wasn't using a single playlist for about 100GB of music. I just always taken it as a given that people with large libraries(and especially "album listeners" like I'm sure most of us are) create a playlist that is the name of the artist and album i.e. Television-Marquee Moon.

He says he just uses cover-flow to navigate through everything. Watching him take like 45 seconds to find a specific album using that method I just had to show him the light.

After a little tutorial he told me that this was like a revelation and he never even thought about doing this where as I never thought about doing it any other way. He freaked out at first because we started making a few hundred playlists but I think I have him on the right track. I mean...pick an album from the playlists listed and listen...right?

Does this make sense? Do ya'll not do this? What do YOU do?
synthfreek
Primarily by artist, genre or rating. If I want a specific album I'll do it on the fly. Approximately 350 playlists.
At first glance I thought you wee kidding, Synthfreek. But maybe YOU need to see the light.

I have 500gb of music in my iTunes library and I would never waste my time making a playlist of an album. If I want to listen to a particular album I simply type its name in the iTunes search box. I can do the same to bring up a particular song or artist. I can also call up all albums in a particular genre this way, which I can also then shuffle for an on-the-spot random mix when I'm in the mood for "Jazz" or "Rock" but don't have a particular album in mind.

This method calls up what I ask for in 2 seconds.

I would only need to make a playlist of an album if I was going to burn it to cd. My playlists are usually mixes I have created of songs from various artists to play at parties or when I'm in a particular mood. To create a theme-based playlist I select 'smart playlist', choose 'name', and add a key word like 'love' or 'rain' or 'drive' to create theme-based playlist of songs on that theme.

I hope that helps you and your friend with iTunes.

Cheers.
I agree that cover flow only makes sense for very small collections, but playlists for each album?

If you have the browser turned on (main menu bar - View - Show browser) it is already done for you. Also choose "as list" from the View menu. It is now arranged by artist and album.

Right click in the header bar above the song list and select what you want to see. I suggest name of song, track number, artist, album, and any others you want. You can drag the headers left or right to put them in the order you want. Then left click the album header. As you do it will cycle through album, album by year, and album by artist. I find album by artist to be the most useful.

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I have 687 gb of music. I use a Mac Mini and access the files remotely with the Front Row interface. I sort the library by “Genres” in 24 categories such as: Classical, Bluegrass, Rock, Electronic. I use the "Play List" much like Thomasedison above.

I am sure there are easier ways to sort the files but that's what works for me.
I'm at about 2,000CDs

I'm with VegasE and ThomasE - making all those playlists is like reinventing what's already there - plus then you still have to find the dosh gone playlist...

One wrinkle I have added is I use grouping to create another kind of category - instruments. So if I type Jazz sax I will get everything that features a sax player (so I would use this for a Ben Webster album)

I have also created a couple of new genres - especially Alt Country which has all the EmmyLou but also the Byrds and Gram Parsons etc

Having made an initial sort, I can either alpha the artist or album and pick one; or create a playlist for my iPod and Airport, or just hit shuffle and play that feel until I want something else.

BTW my Playlists are pretty much "feels" or "grooves" -"All Over Blues", "Island Music", "Morning Music", "Duke and Frenz", "Taj and KebMo". I guess you could say I am creating radio stations...

There is some fun mix software out there, plus of course the Apple Genius feature but I find that my library is too big and tends to crash them. I've had the best luck with MusicIP mixer.

Pandora is also a pretty fun way to play with some new music.
I see all your points but I still think playlists for each individual album work best for me. There is a macro that creates a playlist from a selection. It even names it in the artist - album format automatically...SHIFT, COMMAND & N. You don't have to type any artist/album info.

Search doesn't always work for me because how does that filter out a group's self-titled album? By typing in "Boston" it will bring up all of their albums not just "Boston - Boston". Plus what if I can't remember exactly how to spell something or I don't remember an album title. I have over 7,000 cds.

Using the browser doesn't work for me either because once I find the album I want to listen to the artwork won't be there. With playlists the artwork will automatically be there.

As far as finding the album in my playlists it takes no time at all. Either start typing the name and it will automatically jump to that playlist(did anyone even know you can do that?) or just drag the bar. It isn't hard...they are in alphabetical order.

I also create the playlist at the same time as ripping the cd so it really only takes about 5 seconds extra to do.

All the other methods force you to remember which album got tagged with what genre. Is AC/DC under rock or metal?

I guess I'm an outcast.
I use J River. You can create your own fields and index on any combination of fields (standard and user-created) one wants to. Even with 70K files, it's quick to navigate from any angle you choose. It's also easy to set up a playlist on the fly very easily, so I don't do a lot of playlist setup.

I can't imagine any setup that would require 45 seconds to look up a specific album.
Using the browser doesn't work for me either because once I find the album I want to listen to the artwork won't be there. With playlists the artwork will automatically be there.

I don't follow. Anytime I select an album to play from the browser the art work is there.

If you have the browser sorted "album by artist" all of the artists are there in alphabetical order. I don't see where having all of that duplicated by playlists is any easier, or really different for that matter.

How does having playlists by album help if you can't remember the title?
"I don't follow. Anytime I select an album to play from the browser the art work is there."

The artwork can be shown in the browser...about 2" x 2" on my 42" widescreen. My way fills up the entire screen with the album cover. I'd rather stare at a full-screen artwork shot than the iTunes interface any day.

"If you have the browser sorted "album by artist" all of the artists are there in alphabetical order. I don't see where having all of that duplicated by playlists is any easier, or really different for that matter."

It's WAY easier to navigate the playlists because when trying to scroll up and down by artist in the browser only 6 artists are shown at any given time(by default) unless you then drag the bottom half of iTunes down revealing more choices. My way shows playlists from the top of the iTunes GUI all the way down to the bottom. I easily see 40 playlists at once this way.

"How does having playlists by album help if you can't remember the title?"

Because I can type 3 letters of an artist's name that I have dozens of albums of and see all of the albums in alphabetical order...instantly.

Maybe I can make a short video of how I use iTunes to help show how this makes a whole bunch of sense to me.
"I can type 3 letters of an artist's name that I have dozens of albums of and see all of the albums in alphabetical order...instantly."

I can do that without playlists by
going to the iTunes search bar, choosing "Artist" in the pull down menu (next to the magnifying glass) and typing those same 3 letters in the iTunes box.

Once I select an album, I click on 'cover flow' view, and then go to the View menu and select "Full Screen".

When I want to view my playlists, I don't have 300-3000 playlists of albums to sort through, only a few dozen unique playlists that are themes or smart playlists.

To each his own.
With 450 GB of Lossless music and 4 years with iTunes under my belt I still have only made 3 playlists. Its just not how I listen. Coverflow, to me, is not useful either, especially with a large collection. I generally scroll (two finger drag) through the artists until I see one that I feel like listening to and listen to all or most of an album until I feel like something different. Occasionally, I scroll through the albums instead of artists.

When I know what I want to hear I go right to it via my artist list, it takes mere seconds. That's how I use iTunes.
I'm going to make this the last post as I realize I'm very much in the minority here but the previous methods simply do not work.

"I can do that without playlists by
going to the iTunes search bar, choosing "Artist" in the pull down menu (next to the magnifying glass) and typing those same 3 letters in the iTunes box. "

This doesn't work because the search results will include artists sharing the same attributes. For example I just tried to find the band Japancakes in my library using this method. I had to type all the way to Japanc before I got the correct results because I was also getting music from the bands Casino Versus Japan(which starts with the letter C) and the band Japan in my search results. By typing "jap" in my playlists I am able to view my desired album much quicker and just click on it.

"Once I select an album, I click on 'cover flow' view, and then go to the View menu and select "Full Screen"."

When using this method all the artwork for everything in your search results shows up. I only want to see the album cover for the album that I'm listening to. Sure I can get to a point using search where the album I want to listen to is listed but there will also be other albums listed until I filter it down a bit more. I'd need to filter it down to the exact album anyway because when the last song would finish it would just run on to whatever is sitting behind that track in the search results and I don't want that. I still think it's faster using my method. When I initially create my playlist I choose Cover Flow right then & there so it automatically shows the artwork when clicking on any playlist.

"When I want to view my playlists, I don't have 300-3000 playlists of albums to sort through, only a few dozen unique playlists that are themes or smart playlists."

There's a simple solution for this. I create playlists like you guys as well. I make Christmas and Halloween mixes. I make compilations of recent faves, etc. The way to organize them is to simply place the numeral "1" before the name of your playlist and they will be kept at the very top of your playlists. They won't get lost in my 3000 playlists.

One last advantage is syncing albums to an iPod. After plugging in your iPod all of your playlists are available to click and add to make adding albums a total breeze. I can whiz through all of my playlists clicking what I want to add then hit apply when I'm done and come back a few minutes later and I'm all done.

I'm off...I got more playlists to create :-)

You're right...to each his own
i only use playlists so i only include enough songs to store on my iphone, touch and ipods. for example, i setup a playlist called "4iphone" and move enough music in it that doesn't exceed 14gb. same goes for the other ipods. i mainly listen to 8 hours a day in random order. when i listen in my dedicated audio room, i use my iphone or touch to remotely control the itunes on my mac and the iphone/touch "remote" interface has a nice interface, search by artist, albums, genre, playlists, or randomize by artist, or whole music library.
Synthfreek,

I have been playing around with your suggested playlist method of organizing iTunes. I now see some of your logic.

I didn't know about the macro to make a playlist from a selected artist or album and that is very cool.

I appreciate that selecting a playlist of an album is the only way to show that album's artwork by itself on full screen without showing other albums around it (standard cover view).

However, I haven't figured out how you can be taken to a specific playlist by typing in the search bar. With my huge library, that is essential for me to get to what I want quickly.
Within reason there's no right or wrong way to organize playlists. Whatever works or doesn't work for someone really doesn't have any bearing on what works for someone else.

I wish there were more dedicated fields for organizing. For instance, having separate producer, engineer, record label, mastered by, and musician fields would make it much easier to generate smart playlists.
Thomasedison you don't use the search field just click on the very first playlist(or any playlist) and just start typing.
Wow. It works. That is a hidden function. Thanks.
Onhwy61 - the desire for more dedicated fields for organizing is the #1 reason I use J River. You can add as many fields as you like to their already large standard offering, and the fields can be complex (calculated, for example). All fields, standard or user, can be used to create indices, and the UI for when you choose an index, and then narrowing within that index, is extremely intuitive. All of the indices are stored separately such that searching and sorting are quick even with very large collections.

I've never understood why the other media players don't allow for this as well.
I have around 500 CDs of WAV encoded music and trasfer 4 and 5 stars pre-ranked titles to my iPOD. (I use a Wadia 170i as a transport).

Besides the standard search capabilities of iTunes, the star ranking serves me as a fllter to just transfer the tittles I like (usually 20% or less of all of our library is listened according to HFRN-UK) - so it makes the library management easier.

It takes time, but makes things easier to maintin and update thru genius your archives.
I have organized them by playlist on a NAS connceted to a Sonos system. Worked great until I tried to put the music on my Ipod. For some reason which no one could explain, the ipod couldn't recognize the nas. Out of frustration I am now uploading all of my music directly to a new Imac's drive which works great for both. Would still like to know what happened.
a nas device is just a storage system attached to all of your computers. you would still have your computer running itunes but your itunes library can be placed on the nas. the nas is a good idea if you have multiple computers sharing the same disk. instead of attaching a bunch of disks to a computer and have all your other computers attach to this computer to get to the disk, each computer goes directly to the disk thru the lan.