How to Create Great Playlists with iTunes Genius

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The iTunes Genius feature of iTunes does a number of things: it can help you discover new music you haven't heard before and it can also use its smarts to create Genius Playlists for you.

Genius Playlists are different from playlists you create yourself or even smart playlists, which are created based on sorting criteria you select. Genius Playlists use the collective intelligence of the iTunes Store and iTunes users to create playlists that automatically create playlists of songs that will sound great (or so Apple claims).

Applying this Genius to your music library takes almost no work at all and may result in a playlist you love. Here's what you need to do to create a Genius Playlist.

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Creating a Genius Playlist

Create genius playlist in iTunes

Sam Costello


To create Genius Playlists, you need two things:

With those two things done, you need to find a song to use as the basis of your playlist. Because every Genius Playlist is designed to put together songs that complement each other, you have to start with a song that's the basis for iTunes to figure out what will sound good with it.

Navigate through your iTunes library to a song that you want to use as the foundation of the playlist. Once you've found that song, there are three ways to create the Genius Playlist (these steps may be slightly different depending on your version of iTunes, but the process is generally similar):

  • Right-click on the song, go to Genius Suggestions, and then click Save as Playlist.
  • Click the ... icon next to the song, go to Genius Suggestions, and then click Save as Playlist 
  • Click on the File menu, then click New, then click Genius Playlist.
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Review and Edit the Genius Playlist

Selecting songs for your iTunes playlist

Sam Costello


This is where iTunes steps in. It takes the song you've selected and collects information from the iTunes Store and other Genius users. It looks at what other songs are liked by the people who like the song you picked and then uses that information to generate the Genius Playlist.

The standard Genius Playlist has 25 songs, beginning with the song you chose. You can either play it right away and see how you like it or make changes to it.

Changing Genius Playlist Length

While the default playlist is 25 songs, but you can change that. Click on the 25 songs drop-down menu under the playlist name and select 50, 75, or 100 songs and the playlist will expand.

Revise Genius Playlist

Not sure you love this playlist? Give Genius another shot at it by clicking the Refresh button. This will add a new set of songs to the playlist. Some will have been in the last version, some will be new, and the order will be new, too.

Reorder Genius Playlist

You can also manually change the order of the songs by dragging and dropping them.

Finalizing Your Playlist

Your next step depends on what version of iTunes you have. In iTunes 10 or earlier, if you're happy with the playlist, click the Save Playlist button. In iTunes 11 or higher, the playlist is automatically saved. 

And that's it! If iTunes is as Genius as it claims, you should be loving this playlist for hours to come.