Using the Up Next Feature in iTunes

Up Next in iTunes


Thanks to iTunes DJ (originally called Party Shuffle), iTunes users enjoyed the ability to create a randomized playlist drawn from their music libraries that they could fine-tune into just the right line-up of songs. With the introduction of iTunes 11, though, iTunes DJ was nowhere to be found. Instead, iTunes DJ was replaced with Up Next, a feature designed to do some—but importantly, not all, as we'll see later—of the things iTunes DJ did.

Up Next displays a list of songs that are set to be played, well, next. Songs can be added to it automatically by iTunes, the list can be automatically created and then edited by the user, or you can manually compile it.

The Up Next menu is the icon showing three lines at the right of the display area at the top of iTunes. To view the songs in your Up Next list, just click on that icon.

Adding Songs to Up Next

Up Next is not automatically populated with songs (It can't be in some circumstances; for instance, if you're listening to a playlist that's just one song long, there won't be anything else coming next), so in order to use it, you have to add songs to it. There are many ways to do this:

  • Dragging songs - The simplest way to add songs to Up Next is to find the song (or songs; you can also add multiple songs this way) in your library you want to add and then drag it to the display area at the top of the iTunes window. Simply drop the song there and you will see the window accept the song. The Up Next icon will then turn blue. Click it to confirm that the song you dragged and dropped has been added.
  • Add to Up Next - If you prefer to add songs to Up Next with clicks, or want to add a whole album with just two clicks, you have two options. Anytime you click on or hover your mouse over a song, an arrow button will appear to the right of it. Click it and then click Add to Up Next. If you're in iTunes' Album view, you can click on the album you want to add. When the list of songs appears, click the arrow button next to the album name and select Add to Up Next.
  • Plus button - For a slightly more efficient way to add a song to Up Next, hold down the Option key on a Mac or the Shift key on Windows and hover your mouse over the song you want to add. A + icon will appear to the left of the song. Click that and the song will be added to Up Next (this technique only works for individual songs; you can't add multiple songs to Up Next this way).
  • Remote App - If you're running version 3.0 or higher of Apple's Remote app, which lets you use an iOS device as an iTunes remote control, you can add songs to Up Next simply by tapping and holding on the song you want and then tapping Add to Up Next in the menu.

If you decide you want to completely clear your Up Next list and start fresh, just click the Up Next icon and then click Clear.

Editing the Up Next Queue

Once you've added some songs to Up Next, you're not stuck listening to them in the order you added them. You have a pair of options for editing their playback order.

  • Re-Ordering - To change the order of songs in Up Next, click on the song you want to move and drag it to the place in the order you want it to be in. Drop it there and the playback order will be updated.
  • Deleting - To delete a song from Up Next, either hover your mouse over the song and click the X to the left of it or click on the song to select it and click the Delete button on your keyboard.

Using With Shuffle

One of the great features of iTunes DJ was that it could shuffle through your music library, giving you an endless playlist, and allow you to add, remove, or re-order songs as it played. While Up Next doesn't work exactly this way, it offers a version of this feature. To use Up Next to play random songs from your library, and control the order of what is played, follow these steps:

  1. Find the song you want to listen to first (it may be easiest to do this from the Songs view). Begin playing it.
  2. Click the shuffle button (two arrows intertwined) at the top of the iTunes display area.
  3. Click Up Next icon to view the current queue.
  4. Edit the queue--to add, remove, or rearrange songs--to your preference.

Up Next History

To view the previous Up Next queue you used and to listen to it again if you'd like, click the Up next icon and then the clock icon. History is only one level deep, so you can only see your last queue.

But It's Not iTunes DJ

While Up Next is, essentially, iTunes DJ's replacement in version 11 and higher, it doesn't exactly match what DJ offered. In fact, it's missing many of the features that made iTunes DJ so popular with some users. Features that were in iTunes DJ that don't exist in Up Next, and that it appears there is no way to recreate, include:

  • The ability to grab a chunk of your iTunes library to use as the basis for a playlist that you can edit, re-arrange, and add to on the fly
  • Prioritizing inclusion of songs in the queue based on their star rating
  • The ability to always exclude a song from the queue (though this can still be done using always skip when shuffling).