I've looked around for quite a while and was surprised to not have found any information on this:

How is it possible to change the track order of a playlist I've created in Rhythmbox 3.02?

Simple drag-and-drop does not work and there seems to be no other obvious way.

  • Dragging works for me. Click a track and keep the mouse button down. Drag the track up or down. A black line will appear between other tracks. This is where the selected track will land.
    – Jos
    Dec 20, 2014 at 22:09
  • @Jos - that's a good answer - why the comment?. Add a few screenshots and it will make an excellent answer!
    – fossfreedom
    Dec 20, 2014 at 23:32
  • @fossfreedom It seems the OP has already tried that, but hasn't succeeded. So there may be a deeper problem, and it would be a little presumptious to suggest that he simply try again.
    – Jos
    Dec 21, 2014 at 0:03

2 Answers 2


It depends on the kind of playlist you created.

Automatic Playlist

If you created an "Automatic" playlist (i.e. one that has rules for including/excluding various kinds of files), you can change the order only by changing the sort criterion in the playlist edit box.

Here's what the Edit Automatic Playlist dialog looks like:

Edit Automatic Playlist dialog

To change your sort order:

  1. Click the checkbox beside "Limit to:"

    This will enable the "When sorted by:" controls on the next line.

  2. Choose the field by which you want your tracks sorted (Album, Artist, etc). You can also choose whether to sort in ascending or descending order.

  3. If you don't want to limit the number of tracks in your playlist, uncheck the checkbox you enabled in step 1.

  4. Click the Close button and you're done!

Static Playlist

RhythmBox refers to playlists where you've explicitly added specific songs as Static.

When you populate static playlists, RhythmBox always adds new tracks to the end, so you could change the order of this list by removing and adding tracks until they're in the order you want.


Fortunately, there is a somewhat easier way.

Rhythmbox stores the content for the static playlists, along with the rules for the Automatic ones, in a human-readable XML file. In order to change the order, you have to edit that file.

The file's (default) path is: ~/.local/share/rhythmbox/playlists.xml.

To change the order of a manually-created playlist:

(NOTE: these instructions, while pretty basic, assume a certain amount of familiarity with Linux operations, like copying and editing files. If you don't know how to do these things, you'll need to look them up first.)

  1. Close RhythmBox, lest it overwrite the file you are about to edit.

  2. Navigate to the directory containing the playlist file. (~/.local/share/rhythmbox/)

  3. (Optional but HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!) Copy the playlists.xml file to a backup file, in case you screw up. (To do so in a terminal, enter something like this command: cp playlists.xml playlists-backup.xml .)

  4. Open the file (the original, not the backup) with your favourite text editor.

  5. Find the particular playlist you want to edit. Each playlist is a playlist element, consisting of:

    • an opening <playlist> tag

    • a location element for each track comprising the playlist, specifying the file path

      (Note that the file specifiers are URL-encoded, so – for instance – what would normally be a space in the file name will appear as %20. Take that into account if you are using your editor's search functionality to find a specific file!)

    • a closing <playlist> tag

    Each playlist element has a name attribute (among others), so if the playlist you want to edit is called Main, you can search for name="Main".

  6. Move a song:

    (Note: These are very basic directions, aimed at beginners. Experienced users of text editors will not need these.)

    1. Find the file you want to move.

    2. highlight the entire line containing the location element of each track you want to move

    3. cut out the selected text (usually Ctrl+X will do this)

    4. place your cursor in the new location and paste the text you cut in the previous step (usually Ctrl+V)

  7. Repeat the previous step for each track you want to move.

  8. Save the file. (!)

    If you've done everything correctly, when you open RhythmBox, the songs should be in the order you want.

    If you haven't done everything correctly, RhythmBox may not be able to read the playlists file at all. It's a good thing you backed it up when you started all this, huh? You should be able to use the backup to figure out what you did wrong.

This procedure is certainly nowhere near as nice as being able to drag and drop the songs from the RhythmBox GUI itself, but it's better than not being able to change the order at all.

  • 1
    Thank you for your comprehensive response! I'm sure this works, but this is just way too cumbersome to be a satisfying solution. But a solution nonetheless.
    – Thod
    Apr 17, 2016 at 16:09

I think you are looking at the music list, which doesn't allow drag and drop reordering. If you select all the songs and drag them to the "Play Queue" on the left hand side, then click on "Play Queue", you can then drag and drop the order of your songs.

If you want to save them as a playlist, add a new Playlist with the "+" at the bottom of the screen, and drag the songs there. If you click on the playlist name, you can also change the order with drag and drop.

  • I've tried it and it does not work for me as described. Perhaps I should update Rhythmbox for this to work? Am running version 3.0.2.
    – Thod
    Apr 17, 2016 at 16:11

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