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Restoring Itunes DJ/party shuffle in version 12.x of Itunes

October 12, 2015

[If you are looking for invoking Itunes song requests via Remote, this is not the blog you seek]

I had successfully avoided Apple turmoil in my life by not upgrading my Iphone past iOS 5, and Itunes 10.x. But, batteries die and screens crack, so I was off to a new Iphone 6s. Lots of surprises, a few even positive, but Itunes 12.x is a disaster! So much of the elegance and functionality gone, most urgently – Itunes DJ, which I used exclusively for 4-10 hours a day as my main music player for my home entertainment system.

I also rate songs as I go (I have >10,000), and move appropriate songs into playlists for DJing dances, and generally keeping things rolling along. Itunes 12 takes all that away (I believe they eviscerated the heart of the program in version 11 – I was blissfully unaware).

So – after reading article after article about how to do it, all of which failed pretty miserably, I fiddled around and found a way to kludge together a passable version of what I used Itunes DJ for. The first thing to do is give up on “Up next” – it is too crippled, and to rigid to restore the critical missing features.

Steps to restoring Itunes DJ

  1. Create a playlist, either smart or normal.
  2. Create a another playlist, this time a smart playlist
  3. Choose Match all (as opposed to any)
  4. Choose from the dropdowns for your first criteria – Playlist>is>(the playlist from step 1)
  5. Click the plus icon for another criteria.
  6. Choose Last played > is not in the last > x days (I use 4 days – but my playlist is huge).
  7. Check the Limit to and set the number of songs you want (as you could in Itunes DJ)
  8. Select “items” and “random” for the remaining choices next to Limit to
  9. Select Live updating (this is part of the secret sauce)
edit smart playlist

The heart of bringing back Itunes DJ

Now you can rate songs, and if you delete one from this playlist, it has no bearing on the underlying playlist, as it was in Itunes DJ. The final frustration was the braindead column selections that Apple included as their default for playlist.

Songs instead of playlist

Choose songs from the playlist dropdown

Near the upper right hand corner is the playlist dropdown, with a few choices. Songs restores the familiar columns, and you can re-arrange column order and choose which columns appear.

So – if you delete a song, one immediately replaces it – just like Itunes DJ. This does NOT do anything about people voting in songs via the Remote app – but the rest of the functionality is restored.  Once a song is played, it immediately becomes “played within the last 4 (or 3 or 1 or whatever you chose in step 6 above) days” and live updates off your list. And now step 7 dictates a minimum of the number of songs you chose – so a new one appears. You can rate songs as well, and set the genre, re-arrange songs in the playlist and add to playlists via right click>add to playlist – all the things I found so useful and intuitive in Itunes DJ, which Apple nuked in version 11.

Oh – and “play next in Itunes DJ” maps to “Play next” – which, so long as you are already using the smart playlist approach detailed above, will put your requested song in “Up next” & Up next now shows your smart playlist selections as its feedstock – so you can use whatever vestigial features “Up next” has, including seeing previous songs played (the clock icon in “Up next”). It is cleaner to re-arrange songs in the playlist view than the Up next view, as “Up next” changes skips songs in the playlist, while re-arranging in the smart playlist works as expected.

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