How to Favorite and Rate Songs on iPhone and in iTunes

Get music suggestions that match your tastes

Did you know that Apple Music and iTunes 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 also favorite them. Both features are used to help figure out what to recommend to you. Read on to learn how to enable these features, how to use them, and how they're different.

rating and favoriting in itunes
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How Rating and Favoriting Songs Are Different

Rating and favoriting songs on iPhone and in iTunes are similar ideas, but they're not the same. Ratings are done on a scale of 1-5 stars, with 5 being the best. Favorites are an either/or proposition: You either add a heart to indicate that the song is a favorite or you don't.

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.

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

If you view your iTunes music 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. 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.

This only works in older versions of iTunes. The latest versions no longer sort by rating.

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 learns 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 Enable Star Ratings in iOS 12 and Up

While star ratings used to be an obvious part of the iOS Music app, Apple hid the option in iOS 12 and up. In fact, you actually have to turn on a star ratings preference in order to use the feature. Here's how:

  1. Tap Settings.

    iPhone X homescreen
  2. Tap Music.

    Screenshot of iOS Settings app
  3. Move the Show Star Ratings slider to on/green.

    Screenshot of settings for iOS Music app

Wonder what other useful options are hidden in the Music app's settings? Find out in How to Master Music Settings on the iPhone.

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.)

    Screenshot of iOS Music app showing Up Next
  2. Tap ... (depending on your version of the iOS, it's either at the bottom or top right corner of the screen).

  3. In the menu that pops up, tap Rate Song.

    Screenshot of iOS Music app sharing options
  4. In the Star Rating window, 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).

    Screenshot of the star rating option in the iOS Music apps
  5. Tap Done to return to the normal view. Your star rating is 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 the ... icon.

  3. Tap Love to favorite the song.

    Screenshot of the Music app with a Loved 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:

Screenshot of iTunes showing a star rating for a song
  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.

    If the Rating column isn't visible, go to View > Show View Options > check Rating.

  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:

Screenshot of iTunes showing favorited songs
  1. Open iTunes and find the song you want to favorite.

  2. What you do next depends on how you're viewing your music library:

    • In the Song view, click the heart icon in the heart column. You've favorited a song when the heart icon is filled in.
    • In the Artist view, hover your mouse over the song, and then click the heart icon when it appears.
  3. If the song is playing, click ... next to the song title and then click Love.

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

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