Q: I have a 5G 30GB iPod. I love listening to podcasts, however, I would like them to auto-delete after I am done listening. Lately, I have been noticing that after I sync my iPod, it still has all of the old podcasts, plus the new ones. I have to physically go into the podcast tab and uncheck the podcasts I want off my iPod and re-sync to delete them. Is there an easier way?
A: There are several settings that affect how podcasts are managed both on your iPod and in your iTunes library, so the most likely cause of this is a configuration problem.
The first place to look is in your “Podcasts” tab under your iPod sync preferences. You can access this by connecting your iPod to your computer, selecting the iPod in the iTunes source list, and then clicking on the “Podcasts” tab at the top of the main panel.
The first option on this screen allows you to choose which podcasts are transferred to your iPod. You can choose to sync a specific number of podcasts, and can choose to sync ALL of those podcasts, or only the most or least recent unplayed or new podcasts.
Note that there is an important distinction between a new podcast versus an unplayed podcast. New podcasts are those that have not been opened at all, and are generally indicated by a blue dot. On the other hand, an unplayed podcast is one that you haven’t listened to through to the end, as indicated by the “Play Count” field on the podcast.
Therefore, if you choose to sync only unplayed podcasts, you will need to ensure that you always listen to the podcast right through to the very end (let the iPod stop playing by itself), before that podcast will be removed from your iPod. On the other hand, if you choose to sync only new podcasts, then even if you listen to the first few seconds of a podcast, it will be removed during the next sync, regardless of how much of it you have actually listened to.
You can mark a podcast as new and/or reset the play count by right-clicking on the podcast in iTunes and choosing the appropriate option from the context menu.
These settings do not affect the retention of podcasts in your iTunes library, however. These are controlled separately through your iTunes Podcasts preferences pane, selected by going into your iTunes preferences and choosing the “Podcasts” tab:
From here you can choose how many podcasts you wish to retain in your iTunes library itself. Note that with the exception of the “All Unplayed Episodes” option, these settings are not affected by whether you have actually listened to your podcasts or not. For instance, if you opt to keep the last 10 episodes, then any episodes older than the tenth will be removed regardless of whether they are marked new or played.
This is also a global setting which applies to ALL podcasts in your iTunes library. You can exempt specific podcasts or podcast episodes from auto-deletion by right-clicking on the podcast subscription or individual episode in your podcast listing, and choosing “Do Not Auto Delete” from the context menu.