iTunes 11: Replacement for iTunes DJ

   Posted November 30, 2012 by David Kirk in Apple Mac, Music, Windows

With the latest version of iTunes, Apple killed iTunes DJ. However, you can get a very similar experience through the new Up Next feature.

One of the biggest complaints with iTunes 11 is Apple’s decision to remove iTunes DJ. Many people used this as the primary method for listening to music. Although it is not exactly the same, you can use the following steps to give the new Up Next feature the iTunes DJ functionality.

1.First, we need to create a Smart Playlist that selects which songs we want from our music library. An easy way to create a Smart Playlist is by selecting the large plus (+) at the bottom of the left sidebar. Alternatively, through the iTunes File menu select New and Smart Playlist.

2.Create the list using criteria similar to what you would have selected with iTunes DJ. I’ve selected alternative music that has at least a fair rating and has been recently purchased.

create a smart list

3.Start playing the Smart Playlist that you just created.

4.Open the Up Next feature by clicking the small icon with a tiny list on it. This shows the songs that are queued to play next. From here you can rearrange your music by dragging songs up or down. You can view previously played songs by clicking on the clock icon. You can remove a song by clicking the X that appears to the right of a song when you mouse-over it.

display the up next feature in itunes 11

5.If you would like to add songs that were not captured by your Smart Playlist, just drag them into player area as demonstrated by the picture below. adding a file into the up next area

6.Additionally, you can control and edit this active playlist remotely using the iOS Remote app.

7.This works as well in MiniPlayer view. The Up Next window will stay pinned opened in this mode.

Now, this is not a complete reproduction of iTunes DJ. As far as I can tell, there is no way to get higher rates songs to play more often. Additionally, there is no way for users to allow guests to vote through the Remote app.

With those limits in mind, we now have used the Smart Playlist and Up Next features to reproduce a lot of the prior functionality of iTunes DJ.


About David Kirk

David Kirk is one of the original founders of tech-recipes and is currently serving as editor-in-chief. Not only has he been crafting tutorials for over ten years, but in his other life he also enjoys taking care of critically ill patients as an ICU physician.
View more articles by David Kirk

The Conversation

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  • Ngan Tengyuen

    I’ve tried itune 11, not bad, gotta say it is a big improvement

    • David Kirk

      @ngan, I totally agree. iTunes 11 is the first version that I’ve really enjoyed using. It’s not perfect, but it’s more fun…

  • Andrew Clarke

    I used iTunes DJ every day as a way to easily play music while I’m working without having to think too much about it. To approximate the “play higher rated music more often”, I’m going to do the following:

    1. Make a “3*” playlist with, say, 500 3* songs, sorted by least recently played,
    2. Make a “4*” playlist, with, say, 1500 4* songs, sorted by least recently played,
    3. Make an “iTunes DJ” playlist containing contents of the 3* and 4* playlists, and all my 5* music. I’ll likely add in all my unrated music too, so that it gets played and rated.

    Use that playlist with random and Up Next, and it will sort of approximate the ability to play higher-rated music more often.

    • David Kirk

      Good idea, @Andrew. I never thought about using playlists of playlists to approximate that ability.

      I did figure out today that users with the Remote app can add additional data to the active playlist. I’m still sad that the voting has been removed. >

    • Phil

      I’ve been doing that for years, but have found iTunes 11 no longer lets me do this kind of thing, because changing the rating of a song stops the playlist running.

      This is killing my enthusiasm and once again making me regret upgrading an apple product.

      • Andrew Clarke

        That’s true and it sucks. However, if you click on the clock icon in the “Up Next” dropdown, you can at least rate songs after they’ve been played as that shows your history. If you rate a song when it’s done playing, you won’t have this problem. It’s a kludge but it’s better than nothing.

  • Paddy

    No iTunesDJ? Ooops, stop downloading version 11 immediately 🙂

    I LOVE this functionality and it runs non-stop. Does anyboday have a clue, why Apple did remove it?

  • Mark O

    It seems to me that the steps described in this article and iTunes DJ are no longer necessary. You can turn on random play, or shuffle, by clicking the shuffle icon to the right of the timeline. Or click Controls -> Shuffle -> By Song. You can limit what is played by selecting a Genre, Artist, or Album in the music browser section.

    Now, I will say it was nice and easy to use the DJ feature and to see what was recently played. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right?

  • Ali

    I used iTunes DJ in order to prepare 100 random songs that I’d refresh and sync to my iPhone every couple of days, giving me a new shuffle-style playlists without filling up my iPhone memory. With iTunes 11, there is no method of replicating this function. I’ve tried a randomised Smart Playlist and then setting my iPhone to shuffle it during playback but this does a very poor job. For some reason, iTunes 11’s idea of ‘random’ means stuffing the playlist with barely a dozen different artists so you get the same artist over and over again. Today, it created a ‘random’ selection which managed to include duplicate tracks (same name, same artist, different albums) and the iPhone’s shuffle mode decided to play the duplicates consecutively and other tracks repeatedly, forcing me to listen to the same songs over and over again during a one-hour drive.

  • Darryl Still

    A month in and Up Next is still no closer to replicating the functionality I used to get from DJ.
    It simply does not do it.
    Apple have proved once again they just do not understand customers with a large (50K+) library and how they use it.
    I used DJ to build a playlist that mixes my latest songs with those I played longest ago to keep my library fresh and played. Yes you can do this longhand by playlist creation, but need to keep updating it, which was the whole point of DJ, it just rolled…
    Another beef for me. When I cloise down iTunes the song currently playing disappears. I DJ it would still be there at the top of the list.
    Just stupid, badly thought out little things missed by some smartass schmuck who reckons he knows more than his users about how we use music. Wrong. Bring it back Apple, or I am gone…

  • SteveY

    I’ve come up with pretty much this same method to replace iTunes DJ, but have noticed that iTunes does not update the “Last Played Date” for songs played in this method. However, selecting and playing the playlist from AppleTV DOES update the last played date.

    So very very odd.

  • Neeka

    I just created a new playlist with all of my itunes library in it & click play & then the shuffle button.

  • Jim

    This tip is good, however this doesn’t come close to the functionality of iTunes DJ. In iTunes DJ you could add an unlimited number of songs, not possible in the new version and manipulation of the order was much easier. BRING BACK iTunes DJ!