How to Rate Music in iTunes and iOS Devices

Some people listen to their music at random, or by selecting playlists that they’ve manually created. Some people only listen to albums. But others like to use more complex systems, leveraging smart playlists. They can play music according to one or more conditions, such as how many times you’ve heard a song, which tracks are new, or which have the highest ratings. Naturally, for the last condition, you need to rate your tracks. Here’s how to do this in iTunes and on your iOS device.

Rating in iTunes

iTunes lets you rate songs in five ways.

  1. You can rate a song that’s playing by clicking the more button in the iTunes LCD, and then choosing a rating from the popup menu that displays.

Rate from LCD

  1. You can also rate songs in Artists, Composers or Genres view. Find an album, then hover over a track; you’ll see some dots display. Click one of them to apply a rating.

Rate artists view

  1. You’ll notice in the screenshot above that there are also dots below the album artwork. You can rate the entire album by clicking one of those dots. Ratings to albums also apply to tracks, and in a way that can be confusing.

If you rate a song, its rating stars are dark gray; if you rate an album, but not its songs, all the songs of the album get light gray stars.

Album rating

For example, in the figure above, the first album shown, American Beauty, has each individual song rated, so they show as dark stars. The album, however, is not rated, and its stars are light gray; the number of light gray stars for the album rating is an average of the song ratings. The second album, Workingman’s Dead, has an album rating, but not song ratings, so the colors of the stars are inverted; all songs show as five stars, because the album is rated with that number.

These stars can be confusing, especially on an iOS device, where there is no difference between album and song ratings. iOS devices show stars equivalent to the album rating stars for each song if individual songs on that album are not rated.

  1. You can also rate one or more tracks by right-clicking on it, and then choosing Rating, then a number of stars from the sub-menu that displays.

  2. Select one or more tracks, and choose File > Rating, then choose a star value.

Rating in iOS

Rating in iosRating music in iOS is a lot simpler; there’s only one way to do it. While a song is playing, tap in its name near the bottom of the window, and a series of dots will display. Tap the dot corresponding to the rating you want to apply. If a song doesn’t have lyrics, you can also tap on its album art to display these dots. However, if it does have lyrics, and you have activated the Lyrics & Podcast Info option in Settings > Music, then the lyrics will display.

Once you’ve applied ratings to your music, you can use these ratings to create smart playlist. For example, if you want to hear your favorite songs – the ones to which you’ve applied the highest ratings – create a smart playlist where Rating Is ?????.

Or, if you want all tracks whose ratings are either ???? or ?????, create a smart playlist like this:

Rating four or five stars

If the rating is greater than ???, then it could be either ???? or ?????.

Removing ratings

To remove ratings in iTunes, either click just to the left of the leftmost star, or right-click on one or more tracks, choose Rating > None.

In iOS, you need to do this to each individual song; tap to the left of the leftmost star.

If you ever want to remove ratings from all your music, you can do this quickly in iTunes. Select all your music, and then choose File > Rating > None.

12 thoughts on “How to Rate Music in iTunes and iOS Devices

  1. For years I’ve been using the menubar app I LOVE STARS to rate music. (Sold by Potion Factory to Karelia, renamed STARS, in MAS now for $3.) In conjunction with a “defaults write com.apple.iTunes” command it will allow me to give half-star ratings from the menubar.

  2. For years I’ve been using the menubar app I LOVE STARS to rate music. (Sold by Potion Factory to Karelia, renamed STARS, in MAS now for $3.) In conjunction with a “defaults write com.apple.iTunes” command it will allow me to give half-star ratings from the menubar.

  3. Thanks for the great article. Can you help with some questions?

    I never rate albums but I regularly end up with solid (black) ratings on albums? These ratings then make unrated tracks in the album take the album rating (greyed, rather than black) and the songs don’t appear on unrated smart playlist? Any idea how I might be creating these album ratings by mistake? I rate on iTunes and on iOS? Is it a problem with rating on iOS?

    Around 60% of my songs have a greyed out album rating which represents an average of rated songs. Around 40% have no album rating? Why do some songs take on a calculated rating and others not?

    Hoping you know the answer !

    • There’s been a bug since iTunes 12 that has shifted song ratings to album ratings. I have no idea why it only happens with some tracks.

  4. Thanks for the great article. Can you help with some questions?

    I never rate albums but I regularly end up with solid (black) ratings on albums? These ratings then make unrated tracks in the album take the album rating (greyed, rather than black) and the songs don’t appear on unrated smart playlist? Any idea how I might be creating these album ratings by mistake? I rate on iTunes and on iOS? Is it a problem with rating on iOS?

    Around 60% of my songs have a greyed out album rating which represents an average of rated songs. Around 40% have no album rating? Why do some songs take on a calculated rating and others not?

    Hoping you know the answer !

    • There’s been a bug since iTunes 12 that has shifted song ratings to album ratings. I have no idea why it only happens with some tracks.

  5. I’m now using a couple different ways to rate songs on iOS 10. One is a simple NC Widget called ‘Music Rating’, the other is a Music Player App called Cesium. Cesium behaves much like older versions of the Music App, allowing ratings to be accessed by tapping on the song name. Cesium also comes with an NC Widget, for easy access to ratings and controls!

  6. I’m now using a couple different ways to rate songs on iOS 10. One is a simple NC Widget called ‘Music Rating’, the other is a Music Player App called Cesium. Cesium behaves much like older versions of the Music App, allowing ratings to be accessed by tapping on the song name. Cesium also comes with an NC Widget, for easy access to ratings and controls!

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