How to fit a larger collection onto smaller iPod (PC or Mac)

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Joined: 01/12/2004

Hi there... I've been looking for an answer to this everywhere. I'm using iTunes 4 on a PC but I think that this would be applicable to any version of iTunes.

The basic problem is that when you have >40G of song data, and have "only" a 40G ipod, you have to decide which songs to transfer to the ipod. (In my case I have 200G of data, so I can only have <20% of my music on the ipod at any given time.) The only method I know of determining which songs are transferred is by using the checkbox to the left of the song name. If it's checked, it'll transfer. Here are the problems I've seen:

1) There's no way of knowing how much data is represented by all of the checked songs. I'd like to know (for example) that I've checked 36G of songs before transferring. The way it is now you have to start low and incrementally check more songs which making subsequent transfers. It's just a glorified way of guessing.

2) Of course now that I've got my perfect 36G of songs, I'm excluding 80% of the rest of my library. I can't play them in any sequence or song list if they're unchecked, and if I check them, I'll go over my 36G limit for transfers. Yech.

3) I'd like to have multiple "templates" of checked files so that I could erase the ipod and transfer all my classical music (for instance), or rock, or whatever. I figured that the best way to do this would be to do an Export Library, then clear all checkboxes and do another Export, etc etc... but for a huge library this takes so long I haven't even been able to let it wait to complete.

What gives? This seems to be the most obvious thing in the world, but none of the ipod support sites I've seen have even mentioned it. Help!!!

Thanks so much...


Joined: 02/12/2009

Good timing. I just had to deal with this recently. There's a pretty good solution that's not too complicated and works for PC or Mac. Set this up once and your music will automatically fit on your iPod.

To limit what songs from your large collection go on the iPod, you have to create a special playlist in iTunes listing the songs that you want on the iPod. The official Apple recommendation is to let iTunes create a regular (non-Smart) playlist for you, but I found it much better to create my own Smart Playlist manually. This method makes your iPod update itself automatically as your library grows.

1) Create a Smart Playlist (in the file menu) called " Selection", substituting the name of your iPod, like this: "Tony's iPod Selection"

NOTE: This playlist MUST be named exactly as described for this trick to work.

2) Configure the Smart Playlist (select the Smart Playlist, then File menu-->"Get Info") to match whatever type of music you want on your iPod, and totaling less than your iPod's limit. You can see the total size of the playlist at the bottom of the iTunes window. For example,

...a simple Smart Playlist and "limit to" 39.9 GB (for a 40GB iPod.)

match ANY of the following conditions:
Genre contains "Rock"
Genre contains "Metal"
Genre contains "Punk"

...(so it's inclusive) or (to make it exclusive):

Match ALL of the following conditions:
Genre does not contain "Cheese"
Title does not contain "Love"
Artist does not contain "Celine Dion"
My Rating is greater than "*"
Time is less than "6:00"

3) Plug in your iPod to sync it up. (You might need to wipe the iPod and start fresh, I'm not sure.)


To choose which of your iTunes playlists show up on your iPod, go to Preferences-->iPod, or select your iPod in the "Sources" window and go to File menu-->"Get Info".

For a quick iPod mood switch, try creating multiple Smart Playlists, each with a mood (Classical, Punk etc.). Rename the one you want to use " Selection" and then plug in your iPod. Bada-bing!

Remember to plan ahead. As you add more songs to your hard drive and your collection grows, you might need to adjust the Smart Playlist to keep the size under your iPod's limit.

Here's the official Apple description of the less useful but easier automatic method:

The full scoop on the very slick Smart Playlists feature:

What? You don't have an iPod yet? Get it from Amazon.

Hope that helps,

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