How to Shuffle Albums in iTunes

One of the great features that iTunes and the iPod brought to music listening was the ability to shuffle your entire music library, or simply the contents of a playlist. But you may not always want to listen to songs; you may like listening to albums.

Well, iTunes can do that too; you can shuffle albums. If you select Controls > Shuffle > Albums, then Controls > Shuffle > On, and start playing an album, iTunes will play that album to the end, then start another album selected at random.

Shuffle albums

This is great if you want to have music playing for a long time, and don’t want to intervene.

Unfortunately, there seem to be some bugs with this. It doesn’t work in all of iTunes’ views; it doesn’t work when you’re viewing a playlist, for example. However, if you choose Artists, Albums, or Genres in the sidebar, then click the Play button, it seems to work.

Another option is to use Doug Adams’ Play Random Album AppleScript. Run this script, and it starts playing an album, until it gets to the end. If you don’t like the choice, just run the script again. And when the album ends, run the script again to play another album.

24 thoughts on “How to Shuffle Albums in iTunes

  1. ” it doesn’t work when you’re viewing a playlist, for example”

    Could you clarify? I shuffle play playlists by Album all the time while in them. Both Smart and ruleless ones. I’m usually in View As “Songs” Or “Albums” when I shuffle.

    Do you mean just when in the full Library or just in “Playlist View”? I never use that view as it is merely a dumbed down Songs view, and has become meaningless since iTunes stopped colorizing the “Playlist View”.

    I agree that shuffle play is one of iTunes greatest features. I tried one alternative to iTunes for music playback (forget the name), but as soon as I found out it could not shuffle play albums I dumped it.

    Thanks!

    • I can’t get it to work within a playlist. It works sort of it Songs view, with the column browser, if I’ve selected a genre, for example. it’s a bit wonky; it didn’t use to be like that. It used to work in the entire library.

  2. ” it doesn’t work when you’re viewing a playlist, for example”

    Could you clarify? I shuffle play playlists by Album all the time while in them. Both Smart and ruleless ones. I’m usually in View As “Songs” Or “Albums” when I shuffle.

    Do you mean just when in the full Library or just in “Playlist View”? I never use that view as it is merely a dumbed down Songs view, and has become meaningless since iTunes stopped colorizing the “Playlist View”.

    I agree that shuffle play is one of iTunes greatest features. I tried one alternative to iTunes for music playback (forget the name), but as soon as I found out it could not shuffle play albums I dumped it.

    Thanks!

    • I can’t get it to work within a playlist. It works sort of it Songs view, with the column browser, if I’ve selected a genre, for example. it’s a bit wonky; it didn’t use to be like that. It used to work in the entire library.

  3. “it doesn’t work when you’re viewing a playlist, for example”

    I was going to write in that this must be a recent iTunes regression. I run iTunes 10 on my primary home music player, and Shuffle by Album works just fine within a playlist.

    However, John Oldham’s comment upthread saying it still works in current iTunes versions makes me wonder just what you’re getting at here, Kirk.

    • As I just replied above, if I’m viewing a playlist, and click the play button, it doesn’t work correctly. It doesn’t play anything from that playlist. If I start playing a track, it sometimes only plays one track before skipping to an album. It’s all very inconsistent.

      • “As I just replied above, if I’m viewing a playlist, and click the play button, it doesn’t work correctly.”

        Yeah. Cross-posted, quite obviously.

        Thus, as you note, it’s a regression that crept in at some point. Works utterly perfectly in iTunes 10.

  4. “it doesn’t work when you’re viewing a playlist, for example”

    I was going to write in that this must be a recent iTunes regression. I run iTunes 10 on my primary home music player, and Shuffle by Album works just fine within a playlist.

    However, John Oldham’s comment upthread saying it still works in current iTunes versions makes me wonder just what you’re getting at here, Kirk.

    • As I just replied above, if I’m viewing a playlist, and click the play button, it doesn’t work correctly. It doesn’t play anything from that playlist. If I start playing a track, it sometimes only plays one track before skipping to an album. It’s all very inconsistent.

      • “As I just replied above, if I’m viewing a playlist, and click the play button, it doesn’t work correctly.”

        Yeah. Cross-posted, quite obviously.

        Thus, as you note, it’s a regression that crept in at some point. Works utterly perfectly in iTunes 10.

  5. Just realized that I was using iTunes 12.4.3.1 when I tested and then posted. I have 12.5.5.5 on another Mac that I rarely use for iTunes. I am now testing with that version and will post results.

  6. Just realized that I was using iTunes 12.4.3.1 when I tested and then posted. I have 12.5.5.5 on another Mac that I rarely use for iTunes. I am now testing with that version and will post results.

  7. Kirk: (if you’re still up!)

    What does Up Next show when you are trying and failing to Album Shuffle? On my test with 12.5.5.5 my Up Next looks like it should so far but I have yet to make it to the end of the first album. Gonna let it play through.

  8. Kirk: (if you’re still up!)

    What does Up Next show when you are trying and failing to Album Shuffle? On my test with 12.5.5.5 my Up Next looks like it should so far but I have yet to make it to the end of the first album. Gonna let it play through.

    • Liam:
      If you mean when shuffling by Album, iTunes will play the songs in each shuffled Album in the original order only, then go to the next shuffled Album and play those songs in the original order, so you don’t have to do anything further.

    • Liam:
      If you mean when shuffling by Album, iTunes will play the songs in each shuffled Album in the original order only, then go to the next shuffled Album and play those songs in the original order, so you don’t have to do anything further.

  9. Testing for Kirk’s Album Shuffle error using 12.5.5.5:

    I usually just select a Playlist from the Sidebar to shuffle but I used Column Browser, which I rarely use, as did Kirk.

    Tried various combinations of Genre, Artist, and/or Album. They always Album shuffled properly but I noticed one unrelated(?) “wonkiness”: My “Artist Is Frank Sinatra” Smart Playlist shows 39 albums. Column Browser only sees 5.

    Whenever I have an iTunes hassle, Album Artist is always my first suspect. Sure enough, I had Album Artist filled in on the 5 Sinatra Albums that DID show in Column Browser. The rest had no entry in Album Artist. Could Album Artist be behind your issue? Not likely but maybe check that?

    Anyway, my first impression of Column Browser is that it is kinda half baked, like Quick Look Is in the Finder.

  10. Testing for Kirk’s Album Shuffle error using 12.5.5.5:

    I usually just select a Playlist from the Sidebar to shuffle but I used Column Browser, which I rarely use, as did Kirk.

    Tried various combinations of Genre, Artist, and/or Album. They always Album shuffled properly but I noticed one unrelated(?) “wonkiness”: My “Artist Is Frank Sinatra” Smart Playlist shows 39 albums. Column Browser only sees 5.

    Whenever I have an iTunes hassle, Album Artist is always my first suspect. Sure enough, I had Album Artist filled in on the 5 Sinatra Albums that DID show in Column Browser. The rest had no entry in Album Artist. Could Album Artist be behind your issue? Not likely but maybe check that?

    Anyway, my first impression of Column Browser is that it is kinda half baked, like Quick Look Is in the Finder.

  11. Funny that you’re posting this right now… I was just noticing an odd behaviour with iTunes 12.5.5.5 (on Windows). The shuffle feature (the regular song-based one – yes, i double-ckecked) seems to be a bit broken: Every once in a while i get long stretches of songs that play in the same order as they are listed in the playlist, sometimes one whole album at a time. Then followed by a few random tracks, followed again by half an album. Doesn’t matter what list i’m in (i have dozens), it happens across iTunes. If it helps, i have all my lists to view as “Songs”.

    Here’s a screenshot to better illustrate this: http://hoffer.cx/u/d2

  12. Funny that you’re posting this right now… I was just noticing an odd behaviour with iTunes 12.5.5.5 (on Windows). The shuffle feature (the regular song-based one – yes, i double-ckecked) seems to be a bit broken: Every once in a while i get long stretches of songs that play in the same order as they are listed in the playlist, sometimes one whole album at a time. Then followed by a few random tracks, followed again by half an album. Doesn’t matter what list i’m in (i have dozens), it happens across iTunes. If it helps, i have all my lists to view as “Songs”.

    Here’s a screenshot to better illustrate this: http://hoffer.cx/u/d2

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