I listen to a lot of smart playlists based on ratings, and I use the grouping field for tags. For example: Grouping Contains "Mellow", Rating is greater than **. That playlist has thousands of songs.

Since upgrading to iTunes 12.2, I'm seeing some ratings with black stars, and others with gray stars. Apparently, the gray star ratings are automatically generated by iTunes. I've never seen this before. To make matters worse, songs with zero ratings are showing up in my smart playlists because iTunes assigned them a gray rating.

How do I get rid of the automatically generated gray ratings? How do I prevent iTunes from ever automatically generating false ratings again?

I've got over 30,000 songs. I don't want iTunes destroying my ratings system with false ratings! Just because I like one song on an album doesn't mean the whole album is great.

Additional info: I'm not using iTunes Match (my library exceeds the 25,000 songs limit). I did check "iCloud Music Library" yesterday while signing up for Apple Music, but I've also tried turning that off and it doesn't get rid of the gray/guess/false ratings.

  • 1
    Just a note: the "false" ratings are either album ratings if the gray stars appear at the song rating, or the average album rating if the gray stars appear at the album rating column. It is inconsistent though; sometimes it gets updated when re-rating one song. Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 17:57
  • More info here apple.stackexchange.com/q/44252/38539 Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 18:05
  • From what I understand, this behavior is nothing new and is exactly as expected if you give a rating to an album: songs within that album maintain their individual (black) ratings, and songs without ratings get a hollow (gray) rating with the album's rating. What is new to iTunes 12.2 is that albums are being given ratings automatically. So I have some albums with 40+ songs, of which I rated 1 song and NOT the album, album is given an automatic rating (with rating of the 1 song), and then the rest all get hollow ratings matching it.
    – rubergly
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 18:37
  • 2
    Ah, but I've never given any ratings to albums. Never. I don't care if iTunes starts automatically guessing at album ratings (though that feels awfully Microsoftish to me. It almost makes me expect clippy to pop up on screen), but I don't ever want a song to be given a rating automatically. That makes smart playlists useless.
    – 2oh1
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 21:45
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    Even if I rate an album, it should never automatically change or assign individual song ratings. Just because I think Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is a five star album doesn't mean I want to assign 5 stars to every song on that album. When album ratings assign or change individual song ratings in any way, it ruins the functionality and purpose of Smart Playlists.
    – 2oh1
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 22:13

1 Answer 1


This is a bug introduced in iTunes 12.2 at the end of June. It appears that iTunes has done some sort of averaging of track ratings and written them as album ratings overwriting the original per-track ratings.

I've seen this issue with my library of approximately 100,000 tracks and have filed a bug report with Apple in Radar. Removing the album rating data is difficult as iTunes won't reliably show this data in smart playlists and many of the utilities that try to do mass change operations fail when setting this attribute.

The tool I've been using to slowly clean it up is Doug Adam's "Album Rating Reset." This only works on one album at a time, but if you really care about your ratings, you're going to want to clean this up very carefully to avoid damaging any of your remaining per-track ratings.

I should add that I was also able to restore a number of the lost per-track items by restoring a pre-iTunes 12.2 library to a separate user account , confirmed that the ratings will still present and then used the commercial SuperSync utility to transfer the ratings from the old library to my latest 12.2.2 library using the metadata transfer tool.

What a hassel! I hope sharing some of my tools helps you with your carefully crafted library.

  • too bad this "bug" is actually a "feature" since it's still with us in
    – keen
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 3:30
  • note that you can reset your "hard" album rating ( if you enable the album rating column (song view), then drag-slide the stars to zero.... all of the other methods I've tried didn't work.... now finding the albums with auto-bug-created album ratings (solid stars, not hollow/grey stars) is fun, though.
    – keen
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 4:00
  • I'm still slowly cleaning up the tens of thousands of bad ratings on mine 6 months later..
    – dfbills
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 18:11
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    FYI: Still present in iTunes 12.3.x. Yikes, what a non-feature. Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 3:29
  • FWIW, you can avoid the problem entirely if you turn off auto-sync. You're stuck with manually dragging stuff around (support.apple.com/en-us/HT201593), but it works. (I rely on the ratings, and mine got trashed when I plugged an iPod into my PC. I turned off auto-sync, used the Windows 10 file-restore feature to recover an old version of the iTunes library, and life is good again.) I kept trying to fix the ratings, and the averaging stuff would un-fix them whenever iTunes got restarted... really awful behavior. iTunes v12.4.1.6.
    – fadden
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 18:55

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