A Virtual "New" Tab for Movies in iTunes 8

By Jochen Wolters
March 27, 2009 | Comments: 8

In the comments to my blog post on adding custom genre artwork to iTunes 8, a reader asks if there is a way to add a "New" tab to the grid view for Movies. I am not aware of a hidden iTunes preference to enable such a tab, but its functionality -- list all movies I haven't watched yet -- can be achieved in other ways.

iTNM_MarkAsNew.png

For all movies, TV shows, and podcasts, iTunes indicates "new" tracks by displaying a blue sphere next to the track's title. In this case, "new" is defined as "has not been played yet", or, to be more precise, "its Play Count is zero".

iTunes maintains the Play Count property for every track in its library, and the dedicated "Mark as New" and "Mark as Not New" items in the context menu simply set the selected tracks' Play Count to 0 or 1, respectively.

(Yes, it is weird that, for freshly added files, the context menu usually contains both of these items, as seen in the screenshot on the right. Once you apply either on a file, though, only one remains.)

If you have an extensive iTunes library, the "new" status is a handy way to track which movies and TV shows you have viewed and which podcasts you have listened to, and you can also restrict synchronizing your iPod, iPhone, or AppleTV to only those tracks that are "new".

It is odd indeed, then, that the developers have decided to not include that New tab for the Movies category, so let's find a fix for that.

The quick-n-dirty fix: turn movies into TV shows

In iTunes, you can freely assigned one of three types to movie files: Movie, TV Show, and Music Video. By changing their type from Movie to TV Show, you can make the files show up under the TV Show category, so you could utilize that category's New tab.

Just select all the files in iTunes's Movies category, choose Get Info from the File menu, click the Option tab, and set the Media Kind menu to "TV Show".

iTNM_ChangeMediaType.png

If you're as persnickety about a well-maintained and properly sorted media library as I am, though, mixing movies and TV shows just doesn't really feel right. Also, you would have to repeat this process for every new movie added to your iTunes library, which makes it tedious.

Thankfully, there is a much more elegant and convenient solution: a smart playlist.

An elegant solution: define an iTunes Smart Playlist

To create a smart playlist in iTunes that lists all unwatched movies, choose New Smart Playlist from the File menu. (For a handy short cut, click the left-most button below the Library sidebar while holding down the Option key, which makes the button's icon change from a "+" sign to a little gear and its functionality from "add playlist" to "add smart playlist".)

In the Smart Playlist window, click the plus button twice and configure the rules so they match what you see in the screenshot below. Finally, click OK, give the playlist a name, and you're all set.

iTNM_SmartPlaylist.png

Here's how that smart playlist works.

  • Select all movies from the iTunes library
    The criterion used most often for selecting certain types of media in a smart playlist is Kind. However, for our purposes, there is a much more convenient one: Video Kind. Unlike Kind, which uses a text entry field for specifying the media types for selection, Video Kind offers a menu with the three movie types listed earlier: Movie, TV Show, and Music Video, so you don't have to research what precise file types your movies are stored in.

    What's more, using the Video Kind criterion changes the tabs in the smart playlist's grid view from the "Albums/Artists/Genres/Composers" combo to "Movies/Genres". Neat!

  • Exclude podcasts
    One minor caveat about the Video Kind criterion is that the Movie type also includes video podcasts. Via the rule "Podcast - is false", these are excluded from the playlist.

  • Only show movies that have not been watched yet
    "Play Count - is - 0" filters the playlist to show only "new" movies.

As explained earlier, the "Mark as New" / "Mark as Not New" items in the context menu simply change a track's Play Count, so they work just fine for moving movies into and out of this smart playlist.

By the way, while the "new" status for Podcasts is updated as soon as you start playing a podcast, the Play Count is only incremented when the play-head in iTunes's timeline reaches the end of a track, i.e., when you have actually played it til the very end. Therefore, movies will remain in the smart playlist until you have watched them completely.

Finally, iTunes stores view settings individually for every playlist, so you can set your smart playlist with the "new" movies to grid view without affecting the library's or any other playlist's view settings, which makes this solution look and feel pretty close to a real New tab in the Movies section.


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8 Comments

Whoa! iTunes rock!

Pity the playlist cannot then be used as part of syncing to my iphone so that unwatched movies get copi8ed across...

Chris:

In fact, synchronizing unplayed movies with your iPod or iPhone is built right into iTunes!

Connect your iPhone or iPod to your Mac, select it in iTunes's Source list under the Devices header, and go to the Movies tab. Check "Sync movies", choose the "unwatched movies" radio button, and decide how many movies you want sync'ed to your iPhone/iPod by making the appropriate selection from the corresponding popup menu. Note that the list of movies on that pane also indicates unplayed movies with the "blue dot" in front of a movie's title.

Alternatively, if you do want to use a playlist for synchronizing movies, select the "Select" radio button and choose "playlists" from the popup menu next to it. Now you can make a selection from all playlists in iTunes that contain movies.

In both cases, iTunes will automatically copy unplayed videos from the Movies section of its library to the iPhone/iPod, and remove played ones from the device. The only caveat is that there is no indication UI whether a movie has been played on the iPod itself, i.e., the "blue dot" is missing from the device's Movies section.

Hi Jochen,

Thanks for that, but I don't have that option under movies...

I am using iTunes on windows :( perhaps that is the difference.

With the phone connected, I get 3 sections on the movies tab:
- Rented movies, of which there are none
- TV shows, where I see the options you mention - unwatched etc
- Movies, which has a sync movies check box and if you select it, then you can choose which movies...These are the items that I want in my unwatched category...

Thanks,
Chris

Thanks for that. Converting to a TV show did the trick. Strange though as didn't have to go to those lengths for my iPod Touch. And I don't have a movies tab which makes life difficult as well.

Apple sure have some strange ways about them.

Really appreciate your help though.

C

Chris:

I'm afraid the difference lies in the type of device you use, not the OS: the classic click-wheel iPod lets you filter unwatched movies to be sync'ed between iTunes and the iPod, whereas, for iPhones, you can only manually check individual movies from a list, just like you describe.

The reason, I'm sure, lies in the different operating systems running on the respective portable devices. Just why Apple would reflect those differences in iTunes as well, however, is beyond me.


Cait:

As an equivalent to the Movies tab, there's a Movies section under the Video tab for iPhones. Turning movies into TV shows is a feasible work-around, indeed, since that "unwatched"-filter does exist for TV shows when sync'ing with an iPhone.

By the way, I totally agree with you that these differences seem to be based on inconsistent design decisions made by the iTunes developers.

Is there a way to change the location of a movie to the Podcast tab. I have one stray podcast that got stuck in the Movies tab.

I tried to move its location by copying it into the podcast subdirectory from the movies subdirectory. I then rebooted and brought up iTunes from scratchgg2g but it only lost the location so it didn't get moved in the iTunes database directory.

Gary,

when iTunes downloads a podcast, it marks the podcast as such inside the file, and there is no easy way to toggle that podcast "flag". Simply dragging-and-dropping the file to the Podcast source, or moving it inside iTunes's library folder structure in the Finder won't work.

However, here's an AppleScript (from Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes) that can re-add tacks from your iTunes library as Podcasts. Maybe it'll work for your movie file too:

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