How to Create a Playlist in iTunes

Perhaps you have fond memories of mixtapes. If you're a bit younger, you probably enjoyed making a mixed CD in your day. In the digital age, both are the equivalent of a playlist, a custom-created and custom-ordered group of songs.

Besides just creating custom mixes, though, iTunes playlists can be used for many more things, including burning CDs, syncing multiple iPods to the same computer, and much more.

Create an iTunes Playlist

create playlist in iTunes, step 1


Before you get to the advanced topics, you need to learn the basics of creating a playlist in iTunes. This article takes you through them.

  1. To make a playlist, open iTunes 
  2. In iTunes 12, either click the Playlist button at the top of the window or click the File menu, then New, and select Playlist.
  3. If you created the new playlist through the File menu, skip to the next page of this article.
  4. If you clicked the Playlist button, click the + button at the bottom left of the screen.
  5. Select New Playlist.

Name and Add Songs to the Playlist

create playlists in iTunes, step 2


After you've created the new playlist, follow these steps:

  1. Name the new playlist. Begin typing to give the playlist a name and hit Enter or Return to finalize the name. If you don't give it a name, the playlist will be called — at least for now — "playlist."
    1. You can always change its name later. If you want to do that, single click the name of the playlist in either the left-hand column or in the playlist window and it will become editable. 
  2. When you've given your playlist a name, it's time to start adding songs to it. Click the Add To button. When you do, your music library will appear to the left of the playlist window. 
  3. Navigate through your music library to find the songs you want to add to the playlist.
  4. Simply drag the song to the playlist window on the right. Repeat this process until you've got all the songs you want to be added to your playlist (you can also add TV shows and podcasts to playlists).

Order the Songs in the Playlist

create playlist iTunes, step 3


Putting songs into the playlist isn't the final step; you also need to arrange the songs in the order you prefer. You have two choices for this: manually or using the built-in sorting options.

  1. To arrange the songs manually, just drag and drop the songs into whatever order you want them.
  2. You can also sort them automatically using criteria like name, time, artist, rating, and plays. To do this, click the Sort by a menu and select your choice from the drop-down.
  3. When you're finished sorting, click Done to save the playlist in its new arrangement.

With the songs in just the right order, now it's time to listen to the playlist. Double click the first song, or single click it and click the play button in the top left corner of the iTunes window. You can also shuffle songs within the playlist by clicking ​the shuffle button (it looks like two arrows crossing over each other) near the top of the window next to the playlist's name.

Optional: Burn a CD or Sync iTunes Playlist

create playlist iTunes, step 4


Once you've created your playlist, you may just be content to listen to it on your computer. If you want to take the playlist with you, though, you've got a couple of options.

Sync Playlist to iPod or iPhone
You can sync your playlists to your iPod or iPhone so you can enjoy your mix on the go. Doing this requires just a small change to your sync settings. Read the article about syncing with iTunes to learn how to do this.

Burn a CD
To burn music CDs in iTunes, you start with a playlist. When you've created the playlist you want to burn to CD, insert a blank CDR. Read the article on burning CDs for full instructions.

It's important to know that there can be limits on the number of times you can burn a single playlist.

Because of the DRM used in some iTunes Store music — and because Apple wants to play nice with music companies that help make iTunes and the iPhone/iPod such a huge success — you can only burn 7 copies of a single playlist with iTunes Store music in it to CD.

Once you've burned 7 CDs of that iTunes playlist, an error message will appear telling you you've hit the limit and can’t burn anymore. The limit doesn't apply to playlists composed entirely of music that originated from outside the iTunes Store.

To get around the limits on burning, add or remove songs. A change as small as one song more or less will reset the burn limit to zero, but trying to burn the exact same playlist — even if the songs are in a different order, or if you've deleted the original and re-created it from scratch — is a no-go.

Deleting Playlists

delete playlists in itunes


If you want to delete songs or an entire playlist in iTunes, you've got three options:

  1. Single click the playlist in the left column to highlight it and press the Delete key on your keyboard.
  2. Right-click on the playlist and choose Delete from the menu that pops up.
  3. Single click the playlist to highlight it, click the Edit menu and click Delete.

Either way, you'll have to confirm that you want to delete the playlist. Click the Delete button in the pop-up window and the playlist will be history. Don't worry: The songs that were part of the playlist are still in your iTunes library. It's just the playlist being deleted, not the songs themselves.