altiTunes 11 - Where are my playlists?

Apple's new iTunes 11 is cleaner, more iOS-like, and introduces some handy stuff, especially the 'Up next' queue and improved integration with the also-updated Remote app.

But the list of Playlists on the left has gone. Some people never use playlists, we know, but if, like us, you have built a whole collection in carefully nested lists, you'll be wanting to keep them.

In fact, everything's still there, and they’ve improved in some ways. But if you’re used to dragging and dropping songs from your master list to a choice of playlists, you’ll need to do some relearning.


The playlists tab
Simply click 'Playlists' to see all your existing playlists, along with the old ‘+’ symbol at the bottom, which you click to add a new playlist or smart playlist.

But you'll see there is now no master ‘Music’ playlist at the top, which used to show your whole collection.

So how can you add new music easily to your playlists? Previously, you could simply show your whole collection, then drag individual or multiple songs to a playlist, even from outside iTunes. Can you still do that?

Yes - the quick fix is to go to the top 'View' menu, and select 'Show Sidebar'. This brings back a lot of the old stuff, but it's messy compared with the new clean look. There are other ways that can be used within the new interface.



Method 1: Just drag
If you leave the Playlists tab and return to Songs, Albums or Artists, you can no longer see your playlists. But you can now see your entire collection (leaving the Playlist tab cancels the playlist you were in).

And in any other view than Playlists, the second you click and drag a song or group of songs, all your playlists reappear on the right. This system is marvellously simple for drag and drop within iTunes - unless your list of playlists is long enough to extens below the bottom of the screen, at which point you’re stuck with a messy drag-and-hold-to-scroll in order to target one of the hidden playlists.



Method 2: The new arrow
The new arrow next to each track adds loads of functionality - you can add the song to the new iTunes ‘Up Next’ queue, you can go straight to the lovely new album view, AND there's an option to 'Add to' - thisshows your playlists in a pop-up, with playlist folders expanding at a second click. It’s handy, but a little slow if you’re building a big playlist.



Method 3: Use a smart playlist
To more closely mimic the old system, you really need that ‘master’ playlist of your whole collection back in your list of playlists, a list that contains everything. Then you can choose that, and drag and drop anything to playlists, just like the old way.


To make a master playlist, create a Smart Playlist and give it a rule that will include all your tracks (for example, Include all tracks with a Play Count less than 100,000). Make sure you check 'Live Updating' as well. Presto - a master playlist (we renamed ours ‘Everything’) and a Playlists view just like the old days.