Deleting orphaned Podcast episodes from an iPod

Q: While cleaning out my iPod to make space available for new stuff I have come across an odd problem. I created a Smart Playlist (which I named “Leftover Crap”) using the rules “Playlist is not” and listing all the playlists I wanted to keep on my iPod, then deleting the songs from that “Leftover Crap” Smart Playlist from my iPod’s Music section.

Yet there remain 49 podcasts in the “Leftover Crap” Smart Playlist that I cannot locate to delete. They do not appear under the Podcast category and I can’t find them when I search for them by title in Music either. How do I find the “source location” (for lack of a better term) of these files on my iPod in order to delete them?
I have looked through the Ask iLounge topics and on other website and
haven’t seen this addressed. Note that I manage my iPod manually and don’t sync podcasts.

– Sonja

A: Unfortunately, this is a somewhat common problem; in certain versions of iTunes, podcast episodes could become “orphaned” when the corresponding podcast subscription was removed, essentially leaving the individual episodes behind without being tied to a specific podcast series.

Since the Music category in iTunes filters out the display of non-music items such as Podcasts, and the Podcasts category will only display podcast episodes that are part of a series, these individual episodes end up being lost in obscurity on your iPod until you create a Smart Playlist that ferrets them out.

A Smart Playlist is basically the only way to actually find these episodes, whether in your iTunes library or on your iPod. The good news, however, is that you don’t need to worry about tracking down their “source location”; you can actually delete them directly from the Smart Playlist. The trick is to select the item(s) you wish to delete and then hold down the OPT key (Mac) or SHIFT key (Windows) when selecting the Delete option or tapping the “Delete” key on your keyboard. This key sequence actually works in both Smart Playlists and standard playlists and will remove the selected track(s) from your library entirely.

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