Tracking down phantom Podcasts in iTunes

Q: In the podcast menu on my second-generation Apple TV there is an audio podcast that I unsubscribed to years ago, even before I bought the Apple TV. It only shows up on the Apple TV menu—not in iTunes. I have searched all subfolders in the iTunes folders and can’t find any sign of it. Any idea how I can delete it once and for all?

– Mark

Tracking down phantom Podcasts in iTunes

A: For whatever reason, podcasts unsubscribed to or deleted from the Podcasts listing in iTunes don’t always get properly removed from the actual iTunes library, and in many cases individual episodes or even an entire podcast series can remain hidden away in your iTunes library long after you would have thought they were gone.  This problem was quite common in earlier versions of iTunes, but surprisingly still happens occasionally even in current versions, particularly when dealing with podcast subscriptions that you have had around for a while.

The Apple TV reveals these by default since it reads the library a bit differently. iTunes does not display podcasts in the Music or Movies sections, thereby hiding any podcasts that may still be in the library as simple audio or video tracks but no longer associated with a podcast series in the Podcasts section.

The good news, however, is that Smart Playlists are generally much more comprehensive at displaying anything that meets their particular criteria. A Smart Playlist similar to the following will create a list of every podcast in your iTunes library, regardless of whether it’s appearing in the Podcasts section or not.

After creating the above Smart Playlist, a quick comparison of the total tracks displayed at the bottom of your iTunes window between the main Podcasts section and the Smart Playlist will show you exactly how many of these hidden podcast episodes are actually in your library. As with any iTunes track listing, you can enable the column browser by selecting View, Column Browser, Show Column Browser from the iTunes menu which will allow you to filter the list to help narrow it down to a specific podcast episode or series that you may be looking for.


Tracking down phantom Podcasts in iTunes

Alternatively, you can simply adjust the criteria for the Smart Playlist to help find an individual episode or series by name.

Once you’ve found the podcast in question, you can simply delete it from your library as you would any other track.