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iTunes playlists out of order when synced to iPhone/iPod/iPad

I have a playlist called 5 Star. It’s a smart playlist, and it is set to include all songs with 5 stars. At my desk, I just turn on the Date Added column and sort by that, so the top of the playlist is the most recent song I bought and gave 5 stars. This works great on the desktop.

On my iPhone (and iPad) though it doesn’t work the same way. I get the playlist on the device, but it’s in whatever order iTunes puts it in naturally, as if I’m in iTunes and it’s sorted by the first column, with the numbers. This sucks. Here’s the fix.

Make a new smart playlist (you can’t just edit the old one for some reason) and set it up like this:

1) Put in the normal criteria for your playlist. Mine was just rating 5 stars.
2) Here’s the secret sauce: Limit to some extraordinary number you’ll never hit, selected by whatever the criteria is that you want it sorted by on all your devices.
3) Sync your device (or wait for iTunes Match to sync it, which only takes 10 seconds or so)
4) Enjoy


  1. Daniel Brown Daniel Brown September 16, 2012

    Man, I’ve been looking everywhere for a solution to this ridiculous problem. This is the first one that worked.

  2. James Ebdon James Ebdon November 1, 2012

    Me too – there are so many overly complicated proposals out there for how to fix this and you just nailed it.

  3. Ethan Ethan November 15, 2012

    It’s a nice idea, but if you’ve sorted your list manually like me, using the number column and “copy to play order”, this doesn’t help. “Selected by” doesn’t offer this as one of the options.

    I’m now on the latest version of iTunes (10.7) and the iPhone (OS6), and this has still not been fixed, despite that fact that this problem has been reported now for over a year!

  4. Dan Ryker Dan Ryker January 24, 2013

    Yes! Thank you! I’ve been wanting to fix this for a long time. I’m so glad you posted this answer!

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