Unhappy holidays in May

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It’s early May and reader Richard Potter is no longer filled with the holiday spirit. He writes:

I would enjoy the Genius Mixes feature in iTunes a whole lot more if it weren’t for the fact that Christmas songs get mixed into every Genius genre. I’m wondering if there is a workaround (other than putting all my Christmas music into a separate iTunes library).

The problem is that Genius isn’t such a genius when it comes to discerning season-appropriate music. If it was really among the high-IQ set, on January 7th it would scan your iTunes library for any track assigned with the Holiday genre tag and promptly ignore it until the end of the year. But it doesn’t.

Fortunately there’s a way to tell Genius Mixes to back off. That’s to uncheck the box next to any selections you don’t want to be included in a Genius mix. While this may sound tedious, there’s a way you can make this easier.

Create a smart playlist and create a condition that reads Genre Contains Holiday. Select this smart playlist, hold down the Command key, and click on a checkbox next to a track. All the tracks in the playlist will be unselected.

If, in the future, you find that some of your holiday music has found its way into your Genius mixes it’s because the tracks it’s accessing haven’t been properly tagged. I’ve downloaded a fair bit of holiday music and not all of it bears the Holiday genre tag. Amazon’s holiday samplers, for example, are often marked as Classical selections. Tag these selections correctly and they’ll move into your smart playlist. Switch them off and you won’t hear them as part of your Genius mixes. Note that the album artwork for this music may still appear as part of a Genius mix, but the music won't.

When the holidays roll around again, simply return to this smart playlist, hold down the Command key, and click an empty checkbox. Checks will return to all the tracks in the playlist and Genius will once again fill your ears with holiday cheer.

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At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Major improvements to iPhone-app organization
    • Genius Mixes feature provides automatically generated playlists
    • Significantly improved media management and syncing features
    • Home Sharing feature lets you easily copy media between iTunes libraries


    • No way to edit Genius mixes, or even view their contents
    • Occasional crashes
    • Growing feature list and responsibilities add to interface clutter
    • Home Sharing's auto-transfer feature limited to iTunes-purchased media
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