One of iTunes’ oft-overlooked features is the Radio entry in the Library section of the sidebar. Here you’ll find streaming radio from around the world, covering everything from music (alternative, classical, hard rock, etc.) to comedy to sports to talk. Although I don’t use the feature as much as I should, one of my favorite local FM stations has a presence there, so it’s a good way to listen to that station while I work—ironically, in my office full of high technology gear, there’s not a TV or radio to be found.
Listening to a stream is as easy as double-clicking it. Once you find a station you like, you can bookmark it by dragging it into an existing playlist—or into a blank area of the Playlist section of the sidebar to create a new playlist. Alternatively, you can also drag it into the Library section of the sidebar, and iTunes will then add that stream to your library. If you use this method, the disadvantage is that you can’t easily find your streams within the mass that is your iTunes library—so my personal recommendation is to create a Streaming Stations playlist (or whatever you’d like to call it), then drag any streams you’d like to save into that playlist.
But what if you’ve been doing it the other way for a while—dragging streams into your library—and you’d like to find them all? It turns out you can do this with a very simple smart playlist. Create a new smart playlist (File -> New Smart Playlist) and set it up with just one rule: Kind—contains—stream. Click OK and you’re done. This smart playlist will contain every stream in your library—you can then easily drag streams out to a standard playlist, if you wish, or just keep the smart playlist in place, as it will update if you add additional streams in the future.
Note that if you’ve added streams to your library, they may then come up as selections based on playing items from your library (i.e. a list of 25 random songs may “grab” a stream, too). There are some workarounds—you can uncheck your streams in the library, then make sure that Match Checked Items is enabled on your smart playlist. Alternatively, if you just add streams directly to playlists, and not the library, then they’ll only exist in the playlist, so you won’t have this problem. If you’ve added a ton of streams to your library over the years, and want an easy way to move them all out to a playlist, check out
Downstream 1.2, a free AppleScript for iTunes that will do just that.