iTunes 5 allows you to gather playlists together into a folder, but what does this really mean (and how does it benefit you)? Here are a few observations on iTunes’ folder functionality.
The idea behind folders is that you may have masses of playlists that are related. For example, a couple sharing the same computer account may each have their own playlists. Gathering each person’s playlists into a folder can help keep them separate. Or you may have multiple related playlists—a half-dozen playlists that are jazz-centric and another few playlists that are mood specific. Rather than have these playlists trail down iTunes’ Source window, tidy them up by putting them in folders.
Smart Playlists recognize these folders as playlists—there is no “Folder is” condition but you can call a folder by using something along the lines of “Playlist is This Folder.” Using a Smart Playlist you can then parse out material that’s contained in that folder. For example, with a smart playlist that reads “Folder is Ambient Stuff” and “Artist is Brian Eno” you can place Eno’s ambient work (but not his Glam stuff) into a smart playlist that’s updated whenever you toss another Music For Films edition into your Ambient Stuff folder.
So what does this do for the iPod?
Not much. The iPod doesn’t supported nested folders so although you can create layer upon layer of folders, when you drag a folder full of playlists onto a manually mounted iPod in iTunes’ Source list, all the songs in all those playlists are transferred to the iPod but the tracks are contained within a playlist bearing the host folder’s name. For instance, if you create a folder called “Beatles” and, within that folder, create separate playlists called “John’s Solo,” “Paul’s Solo,” “George’s Solo,” “Ringo’s Solo,” and “Eek! Pete’s Solo,” each track within those playlists will move to the iPod but will be listed under a “Beatles” heading in the iPod’s Playlists screen.