iTunes 11: Apple Has Broken Podcasts (But Here’s How to Partly Fix Them)

One of the less talked about features of the most recent update to iTunes (11.1) is the new Podcast features. While the goal of the new features is to make it easier to manage podcasts across devices, the update has caused much consternation to many podcast listeners. (I’ll post an article about the podcast subscription and setting syncing soon.)

First of all, it deletes your podcasts. If you’ve been downloading and saving podcasts – because you haven’t gotten around to listening to them, or just because there are some you want to save – you’ll find that most of your podcasts are simply gone. One fellow writer sent this warning on a mailing list I subscribe to:

“I have a very carefully curated podcast library here, and upgrading iTunes for iOS 7 just blew out the entire thing; it appears to be re-downloading everything from the cloud. Lost my podcast ratings and iTunes references to existing files.”

Ps gmlsqwev 170x170 75Mine got deleted as well. I’m a fan of Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion stories, and I have been carefully squirreling them away as I listen to them, so I can listen to them again some day (they’re very funny). I mark them as read, and I uncheck them, so they don’t sync to my iPhone or iPad. But with the iTunes update, most of them disappeared; only the last ten files were on my Mac. Not only that, but the “read” status was changed on all of them, and the ones I had unchecked now appear checked, but with little cloud icons next to them.

For another podcast that I save, Philosophy Bites, the episodes are still there, but the read/unread status is set to all unread. At least until I updated the podcast. You see, I hadn’t updated this in a while, so there was a ! next to the name. Once I updated the podcast, all my episodes showed as being in the cloud, and iTunes started downloading them all.

I looked in my iTunes Media folder, and its Podcasts folder contains a number of sub-folders, all of which have podcast episodes. All my Philosophy Bites episodes were there. So I dragged that folder onto the iTunes window, with Podcasts visible, and it correctly added back all the episodes. So the fix for lost episodes is simply to drag them back from your iTunes Media folder. However, this doesn’t fix the read/unread status, which is all over the place.

You’d think that if iTunes deletes your podcasts, you can get them back. I’ve been saving up the Prairie Home Companion podcast for years, and I have episodes back to 2007. Fortunately, these were not in my iTunes library, because after deleting the episodes from my Podcasts library, iTunes only shows me episodes going back to 2010 in the cloud. So if you have episodes of a podcast you want to keep, back them up, if they’re still in your iTunes Media folder, or if you have a backup; you may not be able to get them back from the Podcasts library.