Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

How to prevent iTunes’ shuffle mode from repeating songs

Whilst some like to get lost in whole albums, I generally prefer to listen to music on shuffle mode – a bit like listening to the radio when you don’t necessarily know what’ll come next. iTunes is good for this, especially with its iTunes DJ mode, but there’s sometimes a problem – as it’s playing songs randomly, from time to time you may get the same song within a short space of time.

Thankfully, there’s a way round this, using Smart Playlists. This is a feature that has been in iTunes for a very long time and is not as well-known as it should be, in my opinion. I’ve previously shown you how to create a smart playlist with songs above a certain BPM, which remains one of the most popular posts on here. This time, we’re going to create one that will only play songs that haven’t been played in the past 7 days.

In iTunes, go to File and select New Smart Playlist… In the first box, select ‘Last played’ as the criteria, then ‘not in the last’. Type in ‘7’, and then select days. This should now read ‘Last played not in the last 7 days’ (not great grammar…). Ensure ‘Live updating’ is also ticked. Then click OK and give the playlist a name.

In my example in the screenshot I’ve added a couple of extra conditions – I’ve restricted it to a particular playlist and excluded anything that isn’t music – i.e. videos or podcasts. You can customise it how you wish, or change the time period to more or less than 7 days.

You can then select this playlist and enable Shuffle to play from it; alternatively use iTunes DJ and use it as the source. It’s especially useful if you’re hosting a party and allow friends to use their iPhones to request songs, as it’ll prevent them from requesting the same song over and over. It’s bad enough to be rickrolled once, never mind repeatedly.

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