Ways to give Librarians Apoplexy
iTunes of course comes standard with a predetermined set of categories for sorting your tunes such as Track Name, Genre, and Artist, but there are more hidden away that will allow you to organize your musical library to a degree that would give a librarian hives. In the main music window (where all the names of the tracks and artists are displayed), there is a skinny bar above all the names of the tunes. This usually has the headings Name, Time, Artist, Bit Rate, etc. Right-click (or Control-Click for 1-button users) on any of these headings and a drop-down menu will appear. This can also be accessed through the Apple Menu Bar under "Edit" and then at the bottom, "View Options."
This menu has a rather extensive list for organizing your collection according to the usual methods--Artist, Album, Bit Rate, etc., but also contains headings as obscure as the Year the track was released, the Sample Rate, or even the most recently played tracks. This wealth of information allows you to lay your hands on any track or group of tracks fitting nearly any criteria you select within seconds (or even less). Suppose you're putting on a dance party and want just the tracks with more than 100 beats per minute. Select that option and iTunes will bring that to the top of the display column, ready to bounce. Maybe you're in a Rachmaninov mood and want to find everything you have by him--select the Composer option, and Bang! There is every composer listed, all without having to remember how to spell Rachmaninov.
All this functionality comes with a price, however--in order to sort by these categories, the information must be there to begin with. For those of you who have come by your musical collections in ways other than the iTunes Music Store, it can potentially be a long process. However, happily the iTunes Music Store tracks come with all pertinent information already inputted for you, so all you have to do is select which way you want your tunes displayed, and iTunes is there for you. Now you can shuffle your tunes like a hand of cards or you can stack the deck any way you want. With this deck, it's always going to turn up a full house. [Britt Godwin]