Why You Need to Rate Songs in iTunes and iPhone

rating and favoriting in itunes
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Both iTunes and the Music app built into the iOS give you the ability to assign star ratings to your songs and to favorite them. Both features are used in helping you enjoy music more—both songs you already have and helping you find new music. But how are they different and what are they used for?

Ratings and Favorites Explained

When it comes to iTunes and the iPhone, ratings, and favorites are similar, but not the same thing.

Ratings are represented as stars on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. Favorites are an either/or proposition: you've either selected the heart for the song to indicate that it's a favorite or not. You can assign a both rating or a favorite to a single song or to an entire album.

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.

A song or album can have both a rating and a favorite at the same time.

RELATED: How to Use Apple Music on iPhone

What Ratings and Favorites Are Used For

Song and album ratings are used in iTunes to:

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

Smart Playlists are a kind of playlist that can be generated based on criteria you select. One kind of Smart Playlist is based on the rating assigned to songs.

For example, you can create a Smart Playlist that includes all of your 5-star rated songs, and 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. 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.

RELATED: How to Create a Playlist in iTunes

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. That 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 and Favorite 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 the album art at the top of the screen
  3. The album art disappears and is replaced by 5 dots. Each of these dots corresponds to a star. Tap the dot that equals the number of stars you want to give the song (for example, if you want to give a song 4 stars, tap the 4th dot)
  1. When you're done, tap elsewhere in the album art area to return to the normal view. Your star rating is automatically saved.

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 heart icon to the left of the playback controls
  3. When the heart icon is filled in, you've favorited a song.

To unfavorite, tap the heart icon again. You can also favorite songs from the lock screen when music is playing. Favorite entire albums when viewing the tracklist for the album.

How to Rate and Favorite 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. If the song is playing, click the ... icon in the window at the top of iTunes. In the menu that appears, go to Rating and select the number of stars you want
  4. Whichever option you use, your rating is automatically saved but can be changed whenever you want.

You can rate an entire album by going to the Album view, clicking the album, and then clicking the dots next to the album art.

RELATED: How to Add Album Art 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 the heart icon at the right side of the window at the top of iTunes.

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

You can also favorite an album by going to the Album view, clicking on an album, and then clicking the heart icon next to the album art.