Smart Playlists for Podcasts

Q: How do I set up a playlist of Podcasts? I want to listen to certain Podcasts before I consider others I have downloaded. I don’t want to create a new playlist each day of individual podcasts episodes, I simply want to say “if Coverville episodes are present play first, if ESPN PTI episodes are present play those second, etc’

– Rand

Smart Playlists for Podcasts

A: This is certainly possible through the use of iTunes’ smart playlists feature, and there are various options available depending on exactly what you’re trying to accomplish.

A smart playlist similar to the following should be enough to get you on the right track:

The option for Podcast is true will ensure that only tracks that are actually podcasts will be selected. Play Count filters out those podcasts that you have already listened to, and Date Added limits your smart playlist to include only podcasts added within a certain time frame.

The Limit option is also useful in this context, and can be used to select only a certain number of podcasts, grouping them by criteria such as Album name (the Podcast series is normally stored in the “Album” field in each track), or by other criteria such as “Date Added” which would allow you to limit your smart playlist to either only your oldest or newest unlistened podcast episodes.

Once the smart playlist has been created, you can then choose a sort order for it by clicking on the appropriate column headings in iTunes, which may help to group your podcasts into a more appropriate order based on your listening priority.

For more complicated needs, a series of nested smart playlists can also be used. In this case, individual playlists or smart playlists could be configured to contain individual podcast subscriptions, for example, and then a single master smart playlist would be used to aggregate the content of the individual smart playlists, using the Playlist is… criteria.

This is generally the only way to accomplish more complicated nested “AND/OR” conditions when building playlists with more complex criteria.

One other point that should be noted:  If you’re using a recent-model iPod, such as the 5G with v1.2 firmware or the 2G Shuffle, your podcasts will only play through sequentially if you have the shuffle mode turned OFF on your iPod, due to changes in the more recent firmware versions. Since all podcast episodes are set to “Skip when Shuffling” by default, if the iPod’s shuffle mode is enabled, selecting a playlist of podcasts will only play a single episode and then stop. The iPod’s shuffle setting can be enabled or disabled from within the Settings menu on the iPod.