iTunes Tune-up 2: Turn on the Time Machine
The right song can mentally take me back to an earlier time and place - and thanks to the smart playlist feature in iTunes, I can sonically journey back to those halcyon days of high school or college and stay as long as I like. And it's easier to set up than my first date. Here's how.
Step 1 - Create a new smart playlist. Select "Year" as the criteria. You can set the smart playlist to match a specific year, a range of years (1998 to 2002) or dates either later or earlier than the year entered. You'll probably discover that many of your tracks already have the Year field filled in, and your smart playlist will instantly be populated with tracks. If they're not, move to step 2.
Step 2 - Fill in the "Year" field. Select "Music" from your Library options. If your tracks aren't already showing the Year field in your Library display, go to the "View" menu and open up "View Options" and check the "Year" box. You'll quickly see which songs are missing Year information. If a song you want in your smart playlist is one of them, just highlight the track and select "Get Info" from the File menu. This shows you the text and graphic info for the track. Click the Info tab to reveal the Year field. Just enter the appropriate year, and hit "OK." If an entire album needs fixing, don't worry. That's step 3
Step 3 - Multiple item shortcut. There's a fast way to enter the same information to the data field of many different tracks. Sort your selections so that all the tracks you want to update are together (sorting by artist or album is usually the best way). Highlight the first track on the list, and hold down the shift key. Highlight the last song of the list, and you should see all the songs between the first and last highlighted as well. Select "Get Info" from the file menu, and you'll see a Multiple Item Information menu. Fill in the Year field and select "OK." That information will automatically be entered into the track information for every song in the group.
One thing more. When I started creating smart playlists for different eras, I discovered that songs imported from CD compilations often have the year the compilation was released automatically entered. So, for example, a greatest hits of the eighties collection may have 2003 in the Year field, causing the Fine Young Cannibals to show up in the midst of a post-millennial smart playlist.
I've set up a playlist folder titled "Bio." In it, I've got different smart playlists covering high school, college, post-grad school, and several other special times. When nostalgia hits, I've got the hits programmed and ready to go.