Playlist, as indicated by 'Play + List', is simply a list of songs which could be played one after another, sequentially or shuffled. You can consider a playlist as your own music compilation. iTunes also uses the same concept of playlists to organize music, but in a more advanced way.
What is iTunes Playlist and Smart Playlist?
There are actually two different types of playlists in iTunes; namely the 'Playlist' and 'Smart Playlist'. You'll need to manually add songs or tracks to make up your own playlist, while for the latter, it'll automatically sorts out your songs into different playlists. Both varies in their own way and for more detail, carry on reading them in their separate headings below.
It's easy to create a general playlist in iTunes. Simply hit on the + sign in the bottom-left corner of iTunes or hold onto 'Command + N' from File > New Playlist. Then give it any name you want. But the newly created playlist is still empty. You'll need to add songs to specific playlist after selecting them in the Library Music or the existing playlist.
To select multiple songs at once, click on the desired tracks while holding down the Command or CTRL key (Mac or Windows). Subsequently, drag-and-drop them into the playlist. A green plus sign and the number of selected tracks will appear.
iTunes Smart Playlist
Smart Playlist is a dynamic and search-based playlist. It perform searches continuously on your music library for updates. That also means you can't add songs to the Smart Playlist manually. iTunes gives you conditions to set as criteria for the Smart Playlists; including Artist, Album, Year, Song Name, (Date) Last Played, Date Added, Genre, Composer, My Rating, Play Count and much more.
The steps to create an iTunes Smart Playlist is similar to the standard playlist. Choose New Smart Playlist from the File menu. The following window (as illustrated in the screenshot) will appear:
Carry on to select or define your criteria. For example, you may want to have all your songs sorted out by Britney Spears. The Smart Playlist will then collect every new song by her and continuously add it to the playlist (if there's no item limit set and the Live Updating is checked).
Differences Between Playlist and Smart Playlist
iTunes Playlist and Smart Playlist are both song lists, but the way they are generated is totally different. Other than this, they are totally the same. You can use the same method to back up, import or export an iTunes Playlists and Smart Playlists.
You can also convert a Smart Playlist to a standard Playlist by first exporting Smart Playlist and manually importing it onto iTunes again.