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A smart playlist fix for iTunes 'played podcast' behavior Apps
As a podcaster (work show/home show), I love the podcast support in iTunes and on the iPod. However, I've always felt that one feature was seriously broken: The option to "Update only unplayed episodes" on the iPod. This feature doesn't work right because iTunes doesn't properly keep track of whether or not a podcast has been played.

In iTunes and on the iPod, a podcast is marked as played if you have listened to any of it at all. This means that if you listen to the first 30 minutes of a 60-minute show, pause it, then listening to something else before finishing the first show, iTunes will consider the first show played and remove it from your iPod on the next synchronization. Not only does this mean you must listen to shows in their entirety between synchronizations, it also almost completely negates a great feature of the iPod: the ability to resume listening to a podcast at the point you left off.

This behavior is entirely different than what increases the the play count for a song in iTunes: you must get to the end of the song before the play count increases. So, if you look at a podcast episode in the Podcasts section, it will looked played when half-finished, but while viewing it as a song, the play count will still be zero. You can use this inconsistency to solve the above problem:
  1. In iTunes' iPod preferences, set your iPod to "Update only checked episodes."
  2. Create a Smart Playlist called Played Podcasts with the following rules: Podcast is true, Play Count is greater than 0, Match only checked songs, and Live Updating.
Because this looks at the podcast episodes as songs, it only populates the playlist with shows you have listened to in their entirety. To remove these shows, simply uncheck the episodes and update your iPod. It isn't as simple as it would be if iTunes used the same rules for podcasts and songs, but it is far easier than managing your podcasts manually.
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A smart playlist fix for iTunes 'played podcast' behavior | 7 comments | Create New Account
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That's not right.
Authored by: Loren on Aug 16, '06 08:14:39AM

The poster is incorrectly describing the way podcasts work in iTunes. The "Keep all unplayed episodes" setting goes by playcount which is incremented when a podcast reaches the end. It does not use the "unplayed" flag.

If I listen to 10 minutes of a poscast and then sync my iPod to my mac, the podcast does not get autodeleted. Only after I have listened to the end of a podcast does the playcount go up to 1, and then it gets autodeleted on the next sync.

If your computer is deleting partially heard podcasts, there is something wrong with your setup.

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A smart playlist fix for iTunes 'played podcast' behavior
Authored by: Coumerelli on Aug 16, '06 08:26:39AM

Loren is absolutely right. I have "Keep: all unlayed episodes" and frequently listen to only parts of podcasts. As a matter of fact, if I don't have enough time on my drive to work/back I'll sync it so I pick up right where I left off on my computer. It certainly doesn't delete it until the play count is at least one. As a matter of fact, if I reach the end on my iPod and the iPod is set to repeat tracts, then it'll start over and even at that point since, I guess, iTunes thinks I want to hear it again, it will not delete it.

"The best way to accelerate a PC is 9.8 m/s2"

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A smart playlist fix for iTunes 'played podcast' behavior
Authored by: ginster on Aug 16, '06 09:21:41AM

I agree. Mine behaves like the previous two commenters. Actually, your behavior sounds like the version of iTunes that first supported podcasts. It did some strange things with the playcount that your hint reminds me of. Is your iTunes app up to date?

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A smart playlist fix for iTunes 'played podcast' behavior
Authored by: ajweiss on Aug 16, '06 09:29:09AM

If the behavior has changed, I haven't noticed. I had the problem to begin with, and have been using this solution ever since. I'll have to check it when I get home, I guess...

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A smart playlist fix for iTunes 'played podcast' behavior
Authored by: ajweiss on Aug 16, '06 09:27:17AM

Unless the behavior has changed since podcast support was added, the rules are different for "Keep Unplayed Episodes" in iTunes and "Update only unplayed episodes" on the iPod.

You are both correct when it comes to the "Keep Unplayed Episodes" behavior -- iTunes won't delete something before it is done. However, if you don't want to delete played episodes from iTunes but want them to disappear from your iPod, "Update only unplayed episodes" will remove them prematurely. Look at the comments on this hint, and you'll see that it is a real problem.

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A smart playlist fix for iTunes 'played podcast' behavior
Authored by: cpatch on Aug 16, '06 10:37:07AM

It sounds like the author is running an older version of iTunes and/or the iPod firmware. While the problem he describes used to be an issue Apple fixed it in one of their previous upgrades.

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A smart playlist fix for iTunes 'played podcast' behavior
Authored by: jasenko on Aug 17, '06 07:55:41AM

I had a similar problem previously, I don't know if the behaviour is fixed or not. I solved it by setting iTunes to keep only unplayed episodes, and setting iPod to keep all. Doing that, iTunes takes care of everything, and everything is handled correctly on the iPod.

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