Why You Need to Rate Songs in iTunes and iPhone

Rating and favoriting in itunes

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Both iTunes and Apple Music try to learn your musical taste so they can suggest music you'll like and deliver just the right customized playlists. They do this by letting you assign star ratings to your songs and favorite them. Both features are used in helping you enjoy more music — both for songs you already have and new music that they help you find. But how are they different?

How iTunes Music Ratings and Favorites Are Different

When it comes to iTunes and the iPhone ratings and favorites are similar, but not the same. Ratings are represented as stars on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. Favorites are an either/or proposition: You either select the heart for the song to indicate that it's a favorite or not.

Ratings have been present in iTunes and the iPhone for a long time and can be used for a number of different things. Favorites were introduced with Apple Music in iOS 8.4 and are used only by that service.

You can give a song or album both a rating and a favorite at the same time.

What Star Ratings Are Used for in iTunes & Apple Music

Ratings for songs and albums are used in iTunes to:

  1. Create Smart Playlists. 
  2. Sort your music library.
  3. Sort playlists.

A Smart Playlist is one that's generated based on criteria you select, including the rating you assigned to songs. For example, you can create a Smart Playlist that includes all of your songs rated 5 stars. It even automatically adds new songs to the playlist as you rate them 5 stars.

If you view your iTunes library by song, you can click the Rating column header to sort your songs by rating (either high to low or low to high).

Within standard playlists you've already created, you can order songs by rating (in older versions of iTunes; the latest versions no longer sort by rating). To do this, click a playlist to select it and click Edit Playlist. In the playlist editing window, click Sort by Manual Order and then click Rating. Click Done to save the new order.

What Favorites Are Used for in iTunes & Apple Music

Favorites are used to help Apple Music:

  1. Learn your taste. 
  2. Suggest For You mixes.
  3. Suggest new artists.

When you favorite a song, that information is sent to Apple Music. The service then uses what it knows about your musical taste — based on the songs you've favorited, what other users like you enjoy, and more — to make suggestions. The playlists and artists suggested to you in the For You tab of the Music app and iTunes are chosen by Apple Music staff based on your favorites.

How to Rate Songs on iPhone

To rate a song on the iPhone, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Music app and start playing a song. (If the song isn't in fullscreen mode, tap the mini-player bar at the bottom of the screen.)
  2. Tap ... at the bottom right corner of the screen.
  3. In the menu that pops up, tap Rate Song.
  4. The Star Rating window appears. Tap the star that equals the number of stars you want to give the song (for example, if you want to give a song four stars, tap the fourth star).
  5. When you're done, tap Done to return to the normal view. Your star rating is automatically saved.

How to Favorite Songs on iPhone

To favorite a song on the iPhone, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Music app and start playing a song. Expand the player to fullscreen, if needed.
  2. Tap ... at the bottom right corner of the screen.
  3. Tap Love to favorite the song.

To unfavorite a song, repeat the first two steps and then tap Dislike. You can also favorite entire albums by tapping ... when viewing the tracklist for the album.

How to Rate Songs in iTunes

To rate a song in iTunes, follow these steps:

  1. Open iTunes and find the song you want to rate. 
  2. In the Song view, hover your mouse over the Rating column next to the song, and click the dots that correspond to the number of stars you want to assign.
  3. Your rating is automatically saved but can be changed whenever you want.

How to Favorite Songs in iTunes

To favorite a song in iTunes, follow these steps:

  1. Open iTunes and find the song you want to favorite.
  2. In the Song view, click the heart icon in the heart column. You've favorited a song when the heart icon is filled in.
  3. In the Artist view, hover your mouse over the song, and then click the heart icon when it appears.
  4. If the song is playing, click ... next to the song title and then click Love.

Just like on the iPhone, clicking the heart a second time so it looks empty unfavorites a song.

You can also favorite an album by going to the Album view, clicking on an album, clicking ... and then clicking Love.