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Merge externally-sourced iTunes podcasts with existing ones
Authored by: Perceval on Apr 16, '09 10:29:04AM
Here's what you need:

I've been using this technique for a while and it works, though it might be a little too technical for some: Basically, you're going to modify your <code>hosts</code> configuration file and have it point the podcast feed file that you'll create and put in your localhost, instead of on the server. That way, you can manually add the missing episodes to that file, and make iTunes believe that podcast has been updated new (or old) episodes.

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Merge externally-sourced iTunes podcasts with existing ones
Authored by: magnamous on Apr 16, '09 10:37:27PM
That looks like it would work, but how do you get the podcast's XML file so you can manipulate it? That issue is not addressed on the webpage you mentioned. I used the Alan Watts podcast to try this hint (I've been subscribed to it for a while and have missed a few here and there). I can't seem to download the XML file via Safari, nor can I find it if I subscribe via, nor can I find it in the preferences or other files for iTunes. Any suggestions? iTunes lists the feed for the Alan Watts podcast as

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Merge externally-sourced iTunes podcasts with existing ones
Authored by: magnamous on Apr 16, '09 11:53:35PM

Ok, I feel dumb. The answer is to copy the URL I mentioned into the clipboard, open Safari's Downloads window, and hit Command-V to paste the URL in. Safari will download the XML file. Duh.

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Merge externally-sourced iTunes podcasts with existing ones
Authored by: magnamous on Apr 17, '09 02:04:37AM

Here is a modified version of the original instructions, using the Alan Watts podcast as an example, which I typed up for myself:

Adapted from

How to manually add missing podcast episodes so they show up correctly in iTunes

1. Find the URL of the XML file that the podcast uses.

The easiest way to do this is to get the URL used to subscribe to the podcast (such as, open Safari's Downloads window, and hit Command-V to paste the URL into the downloads window. Safari should download the XML file for you.

2. Set up a web server & add your files

In OS X 10.5: go to System Preferences—>Sharing and enable "Personal Web Sharing"

The modified XML file (step 3) should go into:


I believe that this depends on the original feed URL. In our example, the XML file was at the root level of, so we're putting in a similar place. I think that if it were something like, we would have to put it in /Library/WebServer/Documents/rss/alanwatts. In any case, it should have the same file name as it did when you downloaded it.

The missing podcast episodes should go into:


(to make it tidy)

3. Modify the downloaded XML file to include your missing episodes

In addition to a lot of other information, the XML file will have downloadable episodes enclosed within <item> tags. Use one of the existing ones as a template and modify it to suit your needs. For example:

<title>Religion of No Religion #3</title>
<description>The practice of Zen involves no dogma, no doctrine, and no divine 
imagery, and so is known as the religion of no religion. Part 3 of 4.</description>
<pubDate>Sun, 22 Oct 2006 11:00:00 GMT</pubDate>
<guid isPermaLink="false">970E81E2-89E9-4CF4-8E8D-B9BF9EF5ECD7</guid>
<itunes:author>Alan Watts</itunes:author>
<enclosure url="" 
length="4080268" type="audio/mpeg" />

<author> (Alan Watts)</author>
<media:content url="" 
fileSize="4080268" type="audio/mpeg" />
<itunes:subtitle>Religion of No Religion, Part 3 of 4.</itunes:subtitle>
<itunes:summary>Alan Watts is one of the most widely read philosophers of the 20th 
century. In addition to his 28 books, Alan Watts delivered hundreds of public lectures 
and seminars the recordings of which have been preserved in the archives of the Electronic 
University, a non-profit organization dedicated to higher education. For the past two 
years Alan's eldest son, Mark Watts has reviewed and cataloged these talks to prepare 
them for public broadcast. The Electronic University is now pleased to present the 
highlights of the spoken works of Alan Watts.</itunes:summary>

Create one of these for each missing episode. Change the URLs to point to your web server's podcast files. If your files have spaces or special characters in them, change the URL to use the encoded form of those characters. For example, a space " " is %20 and a pound or hash symbol "#" is %23

Take note of the <guid> tag above. You don't necessarily have to include it, so feel free to omit it for now. More on that tag later.

4. Modify your hosts file

In OS X 10.5, the hosts file is located at /etc/hosts . It requires root access to modify it.

Your hosts file should start out with something like this:

# Host Database
# localhost is used to configure the loopback interface
# when the system is booting.  Do not change this entry.
##       localhost broadcasthost
::1             localhost 
fe80::1%lo0     localhost

Add a line to it which points the feed's URL to your computer. So, in this example, the feed URL was, so add this line:

Save the hosts file. In OS X 10.4 and prior, you then have to type the command lookupd -flushcache . In 10.5, you shouldn't have to do anything other than save the file.

5. Update the podcast in iTunes

Once you update the podcast, the missing files should appear in the list and you should be able to download them from your own web server.

6. Fix any tagging mistakes

If at this point you realize you've made some mistake with the tags, not to fear. This is where the <guid> tag comes in handy. iTunes assigns to each episode a unique identifier, which is provided by you, or is created by iTunes if you don't provide one. If you don't provide one and you make a mistake, you might think that deleting the improperly-tagged files, modifying the XML file, and then re-updating the podcast should fix it. But without a <guid> tag, iTunes will see that file as the same, even though you altered some of the tags, and won't even show it as available for download again. You can use the <guid> tag to solve this problem: by providing a value or changing it to a different value, iTunes decides that the episode is a different episode than the one it is aware of, despite both episodes having the same name. As a result, the "different episode" is made available for download.

You can put anything you want into the <guid> tag. However, the "isPermaLink" attribute should be set to "true" only if the value of the <guid> tag is a URL. If it isn't a URL, set it to "false". I liked using uuidgen in the Terminal to create unique identifiers, as those were easily changed when I made a mistake.

Once you've corrected your tags and added or changed the <guid> tags (and saved the XML file), deleting the improperly-tagged items in iTunes and re-updating the podcast should make the episodes show up again for download, and this time they should have the proper tags.

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Merge externally-sourced iTunes podcasts with existing ones
Authored by: jiclark on Apr 17, '09 11:20:59AM

Man, submit this as it's own hint (if you haven't already)!!

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