I don’t know if it’s something in the water, the way the planets are aligned, or the fact that too many people have too little to think about as they wait for the iPhone to ship, but it seems that there’s been a spike of interest in a feature now missing from iTunes. Specifically, once upon a time you could maintain a virtual version of a first-generation iPod shuflle in iTunes’ Source list after you had ejected that iPod.
This was reasonably handy in that you could add or delete items from this vShuffle and, when you next plugged in your iPod, the contents of the phantom iPod would be synced to the real one.
“But, but, but,” I hear from the butters in the audience, “why not just create a playlist for the shuffle and modify it when the shuffle is offline?”
You can, but this feature offered this advantage: You could use the unique-to-the-shuffle Autofill feature to randomly generate playlists that would fit on the shuffle. When you found one that you liked, you could tweak it by adding and removing tracks and then save it as a separate playlist.
Before those of you who recall (and admired) this feature break down in mournful sobs, let me offer this glimmer of hope: With the help of a smart playlist you can fake this feature and, better yet, use it with any iPod you own. It’s like this:
Choose File -> New Smart Playlist. Configure a condition or two that will allow the playlist to pull tracks from the bulk of your music library. For example, I simply instructed my smart playlist to choose from all AAC and MP3 audio tracks under five minutes in length:
Match All of the Following Rules:
Kind contains audio file Genre is not spoken word Genre is not podcast Time is less than 5 minutes
To finish the smart playlist I configured the bottom portion of the rule to read Limit to 500MB selected by Random and enabled the Live Updating feature.
The smart playlist produces a random selection of music tracks, under five minutes, that will fit on my first-generation iPod shuffle. To refresh the list, all I need do is select everything in it, press the Delete key, tell iTunes I really do want to delete the tracks in the list, and watch in wonder as the playlist is refreshed with another 500MB of random music. Should I find a list I like, I simply select everything in it and choose File -> New Playlist from Selection to save the contents of the smart playlist as a standard playlist.
After that, it’s simply a matter of plugging in the iPod and telling it to sync to that playlist (or a standard playlist I created from the original smart playlist).