Use Half-Star Ratings in macOS Catalina’s Music App

The macOS Catalina Music app, which replaces music functionality from iTunes, offers two ways of rating your music: you can either use stars or “loves.” The latter binary option suits people who only want to flag their favorites, but the five-level option for stars is for those who like more granular judgments of their content.

You can go further; you can use half-star ratings as well. To do so, open the Terminal app in Catalina (it’s in /Applications/Utilities), paste this, then press Return.

defaults write allow-half-stars -bool TRUE

You can then apply half-star ratings by carefully clicking on the stars when visible. If you click on the left side of a star, that counts as a half star; if you click on the right side of a star, that gets recorded as a full star.

If you want to turn this off, run the following command in Terminal:

defaults write allow-half-stars -bool FALSE

Learn more about the new media apps that replace iTunes in macOS Catalina in my new book, Take Control of macOS Media Apps.

17 thoughts on “Use Half-Star Ratings in macOS Catalina’s Music App

  1. I have to say I don’t understand ranking your own music with stars or hearts or anything else. Chances are you’re the only one viewing your music listings, either in a playlist or merely in the library listings of artists, albums, genres, or whatever. What—are we children, attaching fuzzies to these things? Grow up.

    • Lots of people use them to create smart playlists. DJs and people in radio sometimes want even more granular ratings. Just because you don’t see the point doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of people who do. Grow up.

        • I have >35,000 songs in my library, and for years I’ve carefully rated my songs. I have dozens of smart playlists, but the simplest is “All Genres, 5⭑.” If you’ve never heard ONLY your ABSOLUTE FAVORITE songs back-to-back in random order (without having to skip around and find them yourself), you’ve been missing out.

          I’m always amazed when people lack the ability to even *imagine* how or why others might use a software feature.

  2. Thanks for this! I am one of many that rate my songs for playlists. I have yet to upgrade to Catalina, but will definitely use this once I do. I really wish Apple would give us more ways to rate songs and albums.

  3. Thanks for this article. It’s interesting that you didn’t include comparable Terminal commands for and

  4. I can confirm that the following commands work for (per this article—thanks),, and

    defaults write allow-half-stars -bool TRUE
    defaults write allow-half-stars -bool TRUE
    defaults write allow-half-stars -bool TRUE

  5. What happens to these half-stars in latest iOS/iPadOS, though?
    Are they visible or does it cause issues in the Music app on these devices?

    Surprised this is not mentioned here or in the (otherwise great) book.

    • No, they don’t carry over to iOS, alas. I don’t really see the need no see them on iOS; the only use I see is in creating smart playlists, which you can only do on the desktop.

      • Thanks for the reply.
        While on the go, users can still rate track(s). So they may say “ah, this track is a defo 4 stars” and thus rate it on their iOS device, which then syncs to their macOS Music app library ratings… which in turn may then sync in a smart playlist or suchlike. Obviously they cannot do half-stars, as you’ve clarified.

        According to @rotane above, half-stars actually sync to iOS as ZERO stars, which then may be confusing if one tries to set stars on an iOS device (e.g. a 3.5 star’d macOS track, would appear as ZERO stars on iOS).

        Until there’s parity across OS’s on these (unlikely me thinks, unless Apple all of a sudden made half-stars a normal function on both OS’s), it really depends on how one personally uses these half-stars as to whether they’re a good idea or not.

  6. Ah, just seeing the half stars appear as I slide on the ratings indicator has to be one of the most beautiful things I’ve every seen in my life… (-:

  7. Here’s a bit of a conundrum. Whereas – in dear, sweet old iTunes – half stars worked whether ranking songs one at a time or over a selection of songs via the “get info” window, this only works in Music for a single song in the main window and NOT via “get info.”
    Any thoughts or ideas vis-a-vis this situation?

    • Yes, this inability to rate more than one song with a half-star, “in bulk”, remains a shortcoming for which i’m seeking a solution or convenient work around in Big Sur (and beyond).

  8. Thanks for the tip. But what I still miss very much is the possibility to mark many songs and to add half stars to all of them at the same time under information. I need this when importing songs from other programs.

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