Solve iTunes Sorting Problems

1. Upgrade iTunes and iPod firmware

There are countless articles online describing various sorting issues with iTunes and an iPod that syncs with a particular library. Most of these problems have been addresses in various releases of iTunes or through an iPod firmware update. Before you start digging into various settings for your music, audio book, or video in your library, make sure you’re running the latest version of iTunes and that your iPod firmware is complete up to date. In many cases these simple updates will solve strange sorting behavior.

2. Make sure an item’s info settings are correct

When I imported the J.R.R Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring audio book, a complete disk titles were slightly different than the rest. Such a title error caused the 4th disk to end up on the bottom of the list. When I updated the “name” to mirror the other disks, everything sorted correctly.
To avoid a similar problem check an item’s info settings in the following manner:

  1. Right click on the item and select “Get Info” from the pop-up menu
  2. Click on the “Info” tab and double check the various fields on this tab paying close attention to the name, disc number and sometimes the track number and make edits as necessary

Make sure all of your settings in a multi item set such as an audio book correctly reflect what they are (e.g correct disc or track number out of the total in the set). If the “name” is the same across all of the items you might think about adding an 01, 02, 03 etc to the end of the title. This adjustment will keep the group together and further helping sorting when sorted by “name.”

3. Override iTunes’ sort rules

iTunes has some of its own sorting rules. For example, iTunes drops “The” from ‘The Clash” and just sorts it as “Clash.” In most cases this sorting rule is what you want, however, sometimes you might to change it for individual items:

  1. Right click on the item and select “Get Info” from the pop-up menu
  2. Select the “Sort” tab
  3. Edit the various “sort” fields to suit your needs (e.g. change ‘Clash” back to “The Clash” to force that item to appear in the “T” section of the artists view)
  4. You can also add new information in the blank fields as necessary
  5. Once complete, click OK to save your settings

4. Manually adjust a playlist and sync changes to your iPod

Playlists are a great way to organize music. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get a playlist sorted just the way you want. You can manually drag individual items around inside of a playlist to achieve the desired order. Now, however, you need to sync those changes over to your iPod. To transfer a specialized sort order in a playlist over to your iPod simply right click on the playlist and select “Copy to Play Order.” Sync your iPod and your manually sorted playlist should appear on your iPod exactly the same way it does in iTunes.

5. Don’t forget to click on category headings

One last thing, the simplest way to sort the order of your library (or any playlist) is to just left click on a single column heading to sort your items based on that column. You could sort by song, artist, date added, time, etc. If you don’t see what you want, right click on a column heading to bring up a long list of column options. Select any of these options to add a column to display that information. Once you have that new column, left click on its heading to sort your library, or playlist, based on that column.

Fixing iTunes Sorting Problems (Video)