Playing podcasts on 3G iPod shuffle

Q: I have the new 3G iPod shuffle and am running iTunes 9. The iTunes window shows selected podcasts are on the playlist of the shuffle and that list changes as I update and sync but they won’t play. How do I get podcasts to play on the shuffle? The gurus at my closest Apple Store couldn’t seem to figure this out either.

– Tim

A: On the 3G iPod shuffle, podcasts are excluded from your normal music rotation on the assumption that you probably don’t want to listen to podcasts mixed in with your music. Instead, you need to specifically select either a playlist that you’ve set up containing your podcasts, or the general “Podcasts” category on the iPod shuffle by using the Voice Over controls for playlist selection.

To do this, simply hold down the main play/pause button on the headphone controls.

You will first hear the name of the currently-playing track—keep holding the button down and the iPod shuffle will emit a short beep sound and start reading off the names of your playlists on the device. Once it has gone through the playlists, the next option should be “Podcasts.” At any point after hearing the name of the playlist you want to listen to, simply release and tap the button again to select that particular playlist, or the Podcasts category.

Note that there is no way to select a specific podcast to listen to on the iPod shuffle; the “Podcasts” category simply begins playing all of the podcasts that are loaded onto the device, although of course you can skip through the individual episodes using the headphone controls as you would for any other track.