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How to make an Apple Music playlist in iTunes or on iOS

Caitlin McGarry | Aug. 3, 2015
The Macworld staff is still on the fence about Apple Music. Some of us are really into the recommended playlists--which are sometimes eerily relevant--while others are still dealing with the aftermath of enabling iCloud Music Library. But even fans of the streaming service have noticed that making a playlist is nowhere near as simple as it could be. If you're looking for a quick guide to creating and adding to an Apple Music playlist on iOS or iTunes, we've got you covered.

If you want to add songs to that playlist down the line, just tap the ellipsis next any song title to bring up the menu--Add to a Playlist is always at the bottom.

In iTunes

We all know the way iTunes organizes and displays your music library is best described as a "hot mess," and Apple Music only made that more complicated. To make a new playlist, click on Playlists on your top menu bar. Then click the + at the lower lefthand corner beneath your list of playlists. Name your playlist and add a photo and description if you want. From here you can drag and drop songs from your Apple Music library--both songs you own and songs you've added to your Apple Music catalog--into the playlist, which is much easier than the rampant use of the three-dot menu in the iOS version of the app.

But to add songs to a playlist that aren't in your Apple Music library, you'll have to use the search bar. And unlike Spotify, which lets you drag and drop song titles from the search bar into a playlist, Apple Music rips you out of your playlist and throws you into a page of search results, where you have to use the ellipsis (yes, it strikes again) to add the song you want to your playlist.

This is where it gets a little strange. Sometimes Apple Music will let me add a song to a playlist immediately when I open the menu behind the ellipsis. "Add to" will be an option right away. But other times, it forces me to add the song to My Music before it will show me the "Add to" option, which means I have to click two extra times to add a song. It's a mild annoyance, but still not the seamless user experience that Apple could offer here.

The fact that it takes so many steps to add music to playlists in Apple Music sums up one of the service's biggest problems: It is too complex, and buries what should be its most basic features behind layers of options. If Apple can't simplify Apple Music, it will lose subscribers to services that aren't trying to do it all.


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