Podcast Playlists No Longer Play Continuously

An iPod update removes functionality.

Here’s a perfect example of why updating software isn’t always beneficial.

The Problem

I have been using iTunes playlists to organize the podcasts I download each day. When I’m driving or flying, I pick a podcast playlist and start play with one podcast episode. The other episodes are all played afterwards, just like songs in a regular playlist.

I updated my 5th generation iPod with the latest updater the other day. I also updated to iTunes 7. The next time I was driving and started up a podcast in a playlist, only the episode I started played. The iPod went back to the menu when that episode was done. I had to manually start each episode in the playlist. In other words, I have lost functionality.

And, since I now had to manually start podcasts to listen to them, I was setting myself up for a dangerous driving/flying situation. After all, using an iPod while driving requires a bit more attention than using a stereo or even a cell phone.

I could not see any setting in iTunes or in my iPod to fix this problem. What was I missing?

The Cause

I went into the Support area of Apple’s Web site and poked around. There were no support articles that addressed the problem. So I dove into the Discussion area, which I’ve found has limited use. Lots of questions but few answers. I did not find any posts that discussed the problem. So I started a discussion.

Someone else said he had the same problem, so I knew I wasn’t alone.

Options for a typical podcast itemA few days later, another search brought up the cause for the problem. In iTunes, there’s a setting for each song or podcast episode labeled Skip when shuffling. (Select an item in iTunes, choose File > Get Info, and click the Options button to see it.) This option excludes the song from the playlist when you play it in with the shuffle feature enabled. By default, this option is turned on for every podcast you download. By skipping all the podcasts, it was finishing off the playlist without actually playing the remaining episodes.

Two Possible Solutions

There are two solutions — neither of which is satisfactory.

First, presented by someone in Apple’s Support Discussions, is to manually turn off the Skip when shuffling option for each podcast. Fortunately, you don’t have to do this one-by-one.

  1. Open iTunes and display your Podcast library.
  2. Choose Edit > Select All to select all podcasts.
  3. Info for All Selected ItemsChoose File > Get Info to display an Info window for all selected podcasts.
  4. Turn on the check box for Skip when shuffling and choose No from the pop-up menu.
  5. Click OK to save your settings.

Keep in mind that if you use the Shuffle feature of your iPod (either on a regular iPod or an iPod Shuffle), your podcasts will be mixed in with other songs that are played. Also, every time new podcasts are downloaded, they’ll have the Yes default setting. So you probably want to repeat this process before your update your iPod.

The solution I came up with — although I’m sure someone in the Discussion area must have come up with the same solution because it’s pretty simple — is to turn the shuffle feature off.

  1. On your iPod, go to Extras > Settings.
  2. Turn shuffle Off.

This will stop the shuffling of songs in playlists (which is why I think it’s an unsatisfactory solution) but it will also enable podcast episodes in a playlist to play continuously until stopped or until the playlist has been played through. I tried this yesterday and it worked.

And since I don’t have an iPod Shuffle, I have no idea if this will work on one. Perhaps someone can use the Comments link to let us know?

An Apple Fix

What Apple needs to do is to disable the Skip when shuffling setting for playlists that include only podcasts. That’ll prevent podcasts from being included in a random shuffle of songs and allow podcasts to play continuously while in a podcast-only playlist.

As someone who listens to podcasts primarily while driving (via a costly car stereo hookup) or while working in the kitchen (via a tabletop speaker unit), properly implementing this feature as suggested above will make my podcast listening time far safer and more convenient.

Like it used to be before the update.

77 thoughts on “Podcast Playlists No Longer Play Continuously

  1. Thanks sooooooo much for your work on this topic. I’ve been losing my mind for 3 days trying to figure out this same exact issue. Macs aways used to be about functionality but now it seems that every time I update my software, good things disappear. The itunes site talks about creating a “smart playlist” but this suggestion didn’t solve the problem at all.

  2. In fact, this is really annoying, but you know what? I completely fixed the problem by using your tip.

    I have new ipod and am using the updated iTunes (7.0.2).

    What I did is: I turned off shuffle in settings menu. That made podcasts in playlists to play continuously.. but guess what.. my shuffle option when I want to play all the songs (not podcasts) still works – that’s surprising.. I have “Shuffle songs” menu item enabled and when I select it, the songs actually start palying in random order.

    So, try this and I hope it works for you as well.

  3. In fact, this is really annoying, but you know what? I completely fixed the problem by using your tip.

    I have new ipod and am using the updated iTunes (7.0.2).

    What I did is: I turned off shuffle in settings menu. That made podcasts in playlists to play continuously.. but guess what.. shuffle option when I want to play all the songs (not podcasts) still works – that’s surprising.. I have “Shuffle songs” menu item enabled and when I select it, the songs actually start playing in random order.

    So, try this and I hope it works for you as well.

  4. David says “Shuffle songs” still works after turning off the “shuffle” setting. This is true. But as a warning, this will shuffle ALL your music (the podcasts too!). Turning off the shuffle setting means that you cannot play just one playlist shuffled. For some, this won’t be a problem. But for me, I don’t want my nephew’s Raffi or my memory work shuffled into my music. If I hit “Shuffle songs” there is no way to exclude these things (except the >> button!). Before I had a smart playlist excluding these things, and I could shuffle just that list. Help us Apple!!

  5. I havent yet updated my iTunes. i’m using 6.0.0.

    i was told by friends that the new version of iTunes has lots of bugs so i was very reluctant. do you guys recommend that i upgrade?

    i am having the same problem with podcasts. i cant follow step one here as if i select all the podcasts the option is not there, only if i select one at a time.

    if i go to settings/extra on the ipod “shuffle” is already off.

    can anyone help me with all of this? it would be much appreciated

    thanks

  6. Thank you for explaining this, your post was #1 on google for my search: ipod “podcast playlists.”

    This was a seriously bone-headed change for the ipod firmware, as I’m sure most podcast listeners mix up their podcasts.

    I will now try downgrading the ipod firmware, and wait for the next update.

  7. Thanks! This was very helpful. Like others here, I was starting to think I’d imagined that my iPod used to play podcasts happily in a playlist. I’m no longer crazy, just annoyed at Apple.

  8. Regarding “Shuffle Songs” and mixing Raffi with your regular music, yet another workaround:

    - Create a Smart Playlist that excludes all the types of things you do not wish to Shuffle, such as “Genre does not contain Podcast” and “Genre does not contain Children’s Music”

    - Set your iPod to Shuffle Songs (Settings->Shuffle).

    - Play that playlist

    This works for me since I use playlists extensively, and I alternately shuffle a playlist by song or by album. I realize that some users must love that Shuffle Songs option on the main menu, but I don’t — I would not wish to listen to Ministry’s Burning Inside right after Miles Davis’ Flamenco Sketches.

  9. “I was setting myself up for a dangerous driving/flying situation”

    You said it. I’m waiting for the first apple engineer to drive off a cliff while manually selecting 1 minute long podcast after podcast. This is mind-numbingly frustrating.

    [insert 'macs aren't really the end all of user interface like everyone seems to think' rant here/]

  10. I too have had a major issue when I updated to the newer 7.whatever of Itunes a few days ago. I have a first generation shuffle and now I cannot get the songs to play in the order in which they are in my playlist. My playlists are organized how I want them, however when they load to the shuffle and I hit play it’s as if the shuffle function is turned on [and not it's not]. Any insight to this issue?? I have not had any issues prior to this.

  11. Hi all!

    I found a not very elegent and mac-like, but workable solution to this problem and I thought I should share it somwhere. Since this page seems to be one of the best google hits for the problem, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to do the sharing here :)

    It all consists of an AppleScript, which will set all podcasts to “shufflable”, and a cron tab entry that will repeat this on a daily basis, so that your new podcasts will get the treatment automatically every night.

    So here’s what yo have to do:

    1. Open up your Script Editor (in /Applications/AppleScript) and paste the following script into the window:

    tell application “iTunes”

    set podcast_tracks to tracks of playlist “Podcasts”

    repeat with podcast_track in podcast_tracks

    try

    set shufflable of podcast_track to true

    end try

    end repeat

    end tell

    2. Compile it and save it somwhere (as an Application). I called it podcast_corrector, but you’re free to choose any other name, as long as you remember the full path for step 4. If you want, you can also run it now to see if it works: After that, none of your podcasts should have the “Skip when shuffling”-box checked anymore.

    3. We now have to tell the computer to run the script every night. This is done with the unix tool “cron”, which is designed to start other apps in certain time intervals. To use it, open up a terminal and enter

    crontab -e

    This will open your cron settings in a weird old terminal text editor called “vi”. It listens to totally strange keyboard commands, so you have to enter the following stuff exactly as described here, or it will do nothing or something completely different.

    4. Use the arrow keys to go past the last line in your crontab (if there are any. Now press “i” and write in this line. You have to use your own path to the AppleScript, certainly:

    0 1 * * * cd /Users/bjoern/; open podcast_corrector

    After that, press “Escape”, enter “:wq” and press enter. Your crontab is now saved, and the mac will go to the directory “/Users/bjoern/” every night at 1:00, and run the Application “podcast_corrector” from there. If you’d prefer to have it run at some other time, you can change the numbers at the beginning of the line, which stand for minutes and hours, respectively.

    That’s all. I hope it’ll serve you as well as it does serve me :) I’m pretty sure there’d be graphical frontends to cron available that allow you to skip all the complicated stuff, but I didn’t check.

    And, to give credit where credit is due, I got the important parts of the script from here:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20060828050431/http://www.waferbaby.com/archives/2005/11/07/syncing_podcasts

    I only had to add the try-clause, because it wouldn’t work otherwise.

    So long,

    Björn

  12. One important remark: Since the blog software here has intelligently changed the quotation marks in the Script above, you’ll have to replace them with simple ones in line one and two; otherwise the script won’t compile…

  13. Björn, thanks so much for sharing this with us. I like the idea of using AppleScript to take care of tedious tasks like this.

    But here’s a tip for the folks (like me) who don’t know how to use Cron; you can use iCal to run the script at a predetermined interval. I think I cover that in another blog entry somewhere here.

    And I’ll be trying your script as soon as I can get my computer fully recovered from its recent hard disk crash. Thanks again!

  14. Hi

    Sounds like the obvious solution:

    >Podcasts are set to Skip when Shuffling, so with shuffle enabled they only play one at at time.

    >Solution: Set Settings>Shuffle to OFF

    Only, I have a 1G Nano. My podcasts are set to Skip when Shuffling. My Settings>Shuffle is set to OFF. And still I can only get it to play Podcasts one at a time!! AAAAAAAAAARRGGHHH!

    Other than turning off Skip when Shuffling on all Podcasts (which I don’t want to do because I don’t want a 1hour podcast to intrude when I shuffle songs), has anyone found any other method to get back to having all podcast episodes play when i select the podcast playlist?

  15. Hi Maria -

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU for posting this. I couldn’t find anything on apple’s website. Sometimes I wonder whether the people who work there actually use the kit they make.

    Now, can anyone tell me how to restore the star rating on podcasts via my ipod? Another piece of functionality that was useful and they’ve removed!

    Peter

  16. Awesome post. Has Apple fixed this yet? I turned shuffle off on my ipod nano and it worked like a charm for my smart podcast playlist playing podcasts less than 22 minutes long for my morning and evening commutes.

  17. Hi all. Are all this workarounds only working with playlists? On Itunes or my ipod (no matter which one) I would like to go to the podcast menu to a specific podcast and want them to play one after like it does when I go to an ALBUM and klick on the forst song.

    Any sollution for this?

    Daniel

  18. I’ve found a workaround that works for me at last.

    I use a Smart Playlist, as suggested by Apple here under Managing Podcast Subscriptions, to workaround 3 very annoying Podcast problems on my iPod :

    1. Podcast episodes only play one at a time.

    2. Podcast episodes appear in reverse or random date/time order either in the podcast directory or if I drag them to a playlist and manually order them.

    3. Podcast episodes set themselves as Played the moment I listen to them and so disappear from my iPod the next time I sync, even if I never listened to the whole episode – aarrgh.

    I don’t set Skip When Shuffling to Off for individual podcast episodes. For some reason this never solved any of the above problems on my iPod Nano 1G. So you can leave this alone.

    However, the workaround only works when Shuffle is set to Off in the iPod Settings Menu. You can still use Shuffle Songs in the main iPod menu to shuffle the entire library just remember to set iPod Main Menu > Settings > Shuffle to Off before you listen to your Smart Playlist podcasts.

    Method in my Madness

    1. Create a Smart Playlist in iTunes with these settings:

    Podcast is True*

    Play Count is Zero

    Album/Artist set to match Podcast

    2. Set this Smart Playlist to sync to your iPod.

    3. On your iPod listen to the podcast episodes using this smart playlist NOT through the podcast directory.

    What I find is:

    Episodes play sequentially rather than a single episode at a time.

    Episodes play in date order.

    Episodes stay on the smart playlist until you reach the end. Normally, the moment you start playing a podcast the Not New or Played tag is flagged and that episode will be removed from your iPod whether you reach the end of the episode or not. However, the Play Count is NOT flagged and will remain at zero until you reach the END of the episode. The episode will still disappear from your podcast directory the next time you sync, but will remain on your smart playlist. But Remember – the episode on your computer will be flagged as Not New or Played the next time you sync so check to make sure that iTunes won’t delete it because it thinks you’ve finished with it. Podcast episode deletion options are set in iTunes preferences, though unfortunately they are global for all podcasts.

    What you lose is the little blue dot that tells you whether you’ve played an episode.

    I miss the blue dot.

  19. What’s amazing to me is that I wrote this article more than 6 months ago and it’s obviously something that has been bugging a lot of people — 24 comments here so far! You think Apple would listen to our whines (and the whines of so many others who haven’t found this article yet) and just make it work like it used to!

    The only thing I can suggest is that you all use the iTunes Feedback command (on the iTunes menu) to comment on the change in this feature. Maybe Apple will listen and fix it.

    Just a thought.

  20. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am an avid fan of Podrunner and I am training for a minimarathon….it was so annoying that after the first podcast was done it went back to menu. Do you know how hard it is to get a new podcast using Nike plus and running at the same time?? Major pain in the rear!! Now it goes from podcast to podcast and I don’t have to worry about falling off the treadmill or tripping over something while I am running! Plus the Nike plus system records my milage much better since I don’t have to stop and go to the next podcast.

  21. Thanks for the valuable hints!

    At least its some usefull work-around! But I am disappointed by apple, that they don’t fix it themselves! how hard can it be, to play podcast episodes in sequence and ordered cronologically, while still keeping the shuffle feature working for other playlists ….

  22. Your tip was very useful. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why my old iPod shuffle (512MB) wouldn’t play podcasts in shuffle mode when it also had music MP3s on it. It was even more confusing because some of my podcasts (like NPR Music) play music!

  23. Sorry this does not work on my video iPod. I did both suggestions and when a podcast finishes playing it goes back to the main menu.

  24. Scott, this only works if you play your podcasts from PLAYLISTS — not from the Podcasts menu item on your iPod. Create the playlist in iTunes, turn the Skip option off as described here, and sync your iPod. Then play the podcasts in the playlist you created.

    Good luck!

  25. I hope you don’t mind my joining in… My shuffle problem is not with iPod, but with iTunes. I have iTunes 7 on a iMac G5 OS 10.4.9. Recently, the shuffle function quit. It used to be, all I had to do, when in Music, was (with the shuffle function on) click on play, and iTunes started playing items in a random order. Now, it will shuffle *only* items that have been checked. Otherwise, if nothing has been checked it will play one item and then stop. Same problem with a playlist. —I have looked for an answer in iTunes Help, on the iTunes “Support” page, and have asked the question in the iTunes Forum, but nobody has answered it yet. (My iPod, meanwhile, does not have this problem; it shuffles fine.)

  26. Thank you for this, it’s very annoying and not a real solution on Apple’s part. I wish they’d put more though into iTunes as they seem to do with this larger software.

  27. HHEEEEEELLLLOOO!!

    Just convert your podcasts to mp3 in itunes!! right click, convert!! Then you can delete you old podcast and have them as music, make a play list etc!!

  28. Dan, that seems like a lot of bother for a podcast you’re likely to delete after listening to. But if you plan to keep a podcast and listen to it again and again, that’s certainly a good suggestion. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Maria,

    Thank you!!!! I, and a lot of drivers in front of me, thank you greatly for your tip. It’s been annoying me ever since I got my iPod. I finally got frustrated enough to Google a solution and yours was at the top of the list.

    Regards

  30. Hi, another quick solution is to add them to the “on the go” playlist by selecting the podast and holding down the middle button. It will flash a couple times to signify it worked. Add as many as you want and it will play them continuously without reverting back to main menu. I can’t believe there is not a better solution from Apple! Very annoying for us podcasters!

  31. Hi…am becoming educated as I was just as frustrated as everyone above. However I have a solution that concerns VIDEO PODCASTS which I like to have on a seperate playlist to my audio podcasts .

    I created a smart playlist as follows:

    Podcast is True

    Kind contains MPEG-4 VIDEO

    Genre is not TV Shows

    Genre is not Video

    Play Count is 0

    I get a playlist which I have called video playlist., which plays great on Itunes ( and on the ipod )under Video Playlists in date order and deletes episodes as they have finished playing.

    Hope this helps

    Ron

  32. Wow, thank you for the original solution and everyone else for the additional pieces of info in the comments–I didn’t know about the “on the go” trick for example. Fantastic. I listen to these 60 second podcasts from Scientific American and I really was worried about crashing into something while driving. You all have probably saved many lives here. ;)

  33. Hi. I found this thread just recently and it helped me figure out why KCRW Top Tune podcasts on my iPhone stopped playing continuously. I realize this is over a year after someone name Björn Láczay posted an applescript to fix this. Anyway, the script works, but its slow. This is a modified version of the same script that goes a lot quicker. I hope it can help some-one, in the same way that all prior posts herein helped me.

    In my script the name of the Playlist I want to play continously is “KCRW’s Top Tunes”. You would make this whatever playlist you want, or “Podcasts” if you just want to do all “Podcasts”. Right?

    tell application “iTunes”

    set kcrw_tracks to get every track of playlist “KCRW’s Top Tunes” where shufflable is false

    repeat with kcrw_track in kcrw_tracks

    try

    set shufflable of kcrw_track to true

    end try

    end repeat

    end tell

    The same crontab instructions Björn Láczay left would apply.

  34. Joe! Thanks so much for this.

    I use Bjorn’s script and I agree that it is a bit slow. But when I modified it to add the where shufflable is false line, it sped up dramatically.

    Anyone else using Joe’s script needs to remember that the quotes must appear as straight quotes (not smart quotes) in AppleScript for the script to work. Also, his script specifies a single podcast; you’ll need to either change that for the podcast playlist you’re interested in or use the more generic "Podcasts" to get them all (which is what I do).

    Thanks again, Joe and Björn for these helpful scripts. I run the script just before I sync my iPod.

  35. Pingback: iPod Continuous Play Solution

  36. Thanks you saved the day! I was wondering why my ipod suddenly stopped playing through the podcasts. Turned out i had shuffle on. I wish I could set shuffle per playlist anyway.

    Sketchees last blog post..1

  37. I have the classic Ipod, I have the shuffle setting off, I have the play order in my Podcast library set to the right sort order…nada. Still my Ipod is playing the podcasts in reverse order. Sigh.

  38. enquery: I’m not sure — I don’t listen to podcasts as often as I used to — but I think mine is also playing them in order these days. I’ve given up trying to make it work the way I want it to. Nowadays, I just use one of the above scripts to set the “Skip when shuffling” option off before updating and let the podcasts do whatever they like in a playlist.

  39. For whatever reason, these settings won’t save on my iPod. I’m doing everything EXACTLY as you stated and it just won’t work… um, why?

  40. Actually, i tried the Smart Playlist idea and that worked but i cant get them to play with my regular shuffled songs. i dont understand. : /

  41. Almost 3 years later and the bug is still not fixed. My 4th Gen worked fine, my new 6th gen, 120 GB wouldn’t play continuously. You saved me! Thank you, so much.

  42. Hi,

    I have Itunes 8 and none of these suggestions work for me. I’ve tried them all. I’m so frustrated, because, before I updated to Itunes 8, my podcasts played continuously. I’m beginning to think that they don’t know what they’re doing.

    Kimberly

  43. All worked fine for my podcast playlists until a month ago, with the upgrade. I have an old ipod nano. I’m very frustrated since then. Dangerous driving indeed.

  44. Thanks – this post is still helpful three years later! I feel like every time I get a software update from Apple I lose functionality of something that I really like.

  45. I have found that the easiest solution is to just to select all my podcasts, then go to “get info”, then to “Options” and change the “media type” from podcast to music. Then you can treat them just like any other music item.

    • I tried everything else (that I could find through a google search and here) and the ONLY thing that worked for me was to change the media type from podcast to music. Now I can actually hear my whole play list instead of just one podcast.

  46. I just stumbled across this blog entry.

    My experience is that I used to have an old iPod Nano (2nd gen) and when I syned that I could just hit play and it would play sequentionally through all my podcasts (I only used it for podcasts) it was perfect in this respect. Simple, functional, and no messing abour required. All I needed was tha ability to play video podcasts.

    I have just moved to using an iPod Classic, in order to play said video podcasts, and guess what. I can no longer just press play to start playing through everything. It seems I have to mess about with smart playlists and other stuff.

    I have tried your suggested fix and it doesn’t work for me, maybe because I have not yet created a playlist and synced that to my Clasic.

    Come on Apple, stop removing the simple and useful functionality, it pisses people off!.

    • @Matt
      I think that creating the playlist and playing THAT is an important part of getting my technique to work. But creating a playlist is easy if you use smart playlists. It’ll automatically be updated for you. My playlists, for example, are based on the podcast names.

  47. Thanks for the confirmation and I tried that last night and had no joy at all today on my commute to work. I still had to manually select the next podcast to play, unless there were multiple podcasts of the same series and then they would play back to back.

    My iPod Classic did show that I had 4 playlists availabled (the 3 I selected and the on the go playlist I guess) but no amount of clicking would enable me to actually go into the option and select a playlist.

    I have just done some playing and it seems there is another utterly stupid bug in Apples software. Unless I also sync some music onto the my Classic I am unable to go into the playlist menu to select a playlist to play.

    Given that I only use iTunes for podcasts and I had no music imported at all, this is nonsense. I have had to import a music file and select sync music in order to access the playlists of podcasts.

    So not only did Apple break a very useful bit of functionality but they created a situation where it is mandatory to have music in iTunes and Synced in order to play podcasts in any useable way.

    If it wasn’t for the fact I want to be able to enjoy video podcasts on the train, I’d ditch this classic and go back to the nano. At least that hasn’t been hamstrung by over-keen developers with no quality control.

    (can you tell I am not impressed?)

    :-)

    • @Matt
      This is odd. I’m using a 5th Generation iPod Nano AND an original video iPod for listening to podcasts and they both work with the setup as described above. (Just used the video iPod while walking this morning; heard 10 podcast episodes back to back.) I still use the script that one of the commenters provided to periodically set the skip option for all the podcasts on my computer. Wish I could be more help, but I really don’t know what the problem is. Best of luck resolving it.

  48. I stumbled upon a solution on my shuffle. I hold down the voice over button (little button on the top/center), which allows you to scroll through the categories of podcasts, like adam carola to economist, etc. I also switched off the skip when shuffled settings on each podcast file. works great.

  49. Thanks, I’ve been so frustrated by having to start a new podcast every time the previous one ends. It’s not good for parties and it’s not good for work. You’ve just made my life so much easier!

  50. Thank you for saving my sanity!! I often switch between shuffle and not, so my podcasts seemed to be randomly playing all or not. It was completely driving me crazy as to why this flipped back and forth.

    This is only an issue on my iPod classic as my iPhone plays podcasts continuously regardless of the shuffle setting.

  51. Thanks for posting this. Would you believe it that it’s 2012 and the issue (at least with I-Tunes for Windows) still has NOT been fixed? Apple, this is the reason (well, that and MS Exchange issues that should have never happenned in IOS 6) that I will NEVER purchase your products (at least, not until you get better QC for your so-called “updates”).

    Anyway, your work-around fixed my issue with I-Tunes PodCasts playing in shuffle mode.

  52. So, here it is almost two YEARS after the last comment and this is still relevant. I recently had to go back to using my 1G Nano after my 6G Nano had a power button failure. What makes the difference is turning SHUFFLE OFF.

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