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How to Clean up iTunes with One Playlist

Learn how to quickly find all the lame, forgotten media clogging up your iTunes collection, and purge it from your computer.

My iTunes library is a graveyard. It’s a place for my media to slip away and die in silence.

Sure, there are some well-worn albums in my iTunes collection, but there’s also an increasing portion of dusty, old podcasts, audiobooks, TV shows, and random music that I honestly don’t remember how (or why) I acquired.

To break free from all the crud in my iTunes collection while leaving the good stuff intact I could methodically comb through the collection and delete the duds. But frankly, I’d rather chew a mouthful of tacks.

Wouldn’t it be great if iTunes automatically recommended content to delete? Well, it can, and it takes just a few minutes to set up.

To see how it’s done, check out my step-by-step gallery. It will lighten your iTunes library and free up some precious hard-drive space.

Use a Smart Playlist to clean up iTunes (pictures)

If you’re looking for some extra room on your hard drive, one of the easiest places to trim the fat is your iTunes library. It’s probably filled with music that you never listen to, not to mention old podcasts, TV shows, movies, and audiobooks.

So how do you carve out the rotten stuff while saving the media that you can’t live without? Here’s where a Smart Playlist comes in handy.

Go up to the File Menu and select New Smart Playlist. We’re going to make a Smart Playlist with three rules. Rule No. 1: the media in this playlist will have been played less than two times.

To make our second rule, hit the “+” button on the right side of the first rule. Set the second rule to wrangle up any media that has been skipped over more than five times.

And just in case you’ve been rating your songs, let’s make a third rule that collects all the songs that you’ve rated between 1 and 2 stars.

Because there probably won’t be many things that satisfy all of these requirements, go to the top of the window and change “Match all” to “Match any.” Then, hit OK.

You now have a playlist filled with all of the bad, ignored, or frequently skipped media in your iTunes library. If you don’t see much, you can right-click on the playlist, select edit, and adjust the numbers to pull in more media.

Another useful trick is to right-click the column headers and add a column for size, so that you can sort by file size and delete the big stuff first.

The problem is, if you’ve ever deleted a song from an iTunes playlist, you probably noticed that it just deletes the song from the playlist — not from your computer. In a Smart Playlist, the delete key is basically useless since you have no manual control over the list. Unless, of course, you know a trick.

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