There are many various ways of syncing podcasts to iPhone or iPod. I’ve described the basic ones in my previous article. These were just the basic automatic syncing techniques which use predefined scenarios in iTunes.

There’s also a more complex way of syncing using user-defined Smart Playlist which update according to defined conditions. Let’s say that you want to have 10 least recent unplayed episodes of some podcasts and at the same time you also want to have all episodes of some other podcasts and all of this done automatically by syncing in iTunes (no manual selecting etc.). The first part is easy, you just need to set up ‘Sync podcasts’ and select ’10 least recent unplayed’ as I described in my previous article. For including also all episodes of some other podcasts we need a help of Smart Playlists which will take care of these episodes.

How to create a Smart Playlist

  1. Open iTunes and go to your music library.
  2. Go to Playlists section
  3. Open the plus menu on the bottom left side of iTunes window and select the ‘New Smart Playlist…’ option.
    mixed sincing new smart playlist
  4. Now, carefully define all rules for the Smart Playlist. The first one will be ‘Genre is Podcast’. If you want to choose more than one podcast, click on the ellipses button.
    smart playlist condition1
  5. Select ‘any’ of the following rules and specify rules that apply for your podcasts. You want to use either ‘Album’ or ‘Artist’ name of the podcasts or something all episodes have in common (using e.g. ‘Title’ would require a specific text in all episodes). So you should end up with rules similar to mine in which I used both of the mentioned rules. This Playlist will be querying all episodes of both podcasts that I specified.
    smart playlist condition2
  6. Now click OK and give this playlist a name.

Including Smart Playlist in Podcast Sync Settings

So now that we have our Smart Playlist created we can include it in our podcast sync settings. Given that you have already setup the syncing of ‘10 least recent unplayed’ (described in my previous article) you can now include the Smart Playlist to your sync.

  1. Connect your iPhone or other device and go to the Podcasts page.
  2. Scroll down to the ‘Include Episodes from Playlists’ section and check the Smart Playlist that you have just created.
    include playlist
  3. Click on the “Sync” (or “Apply”) button at the bottom right side of the iTunes window to sync your changes.

So now the iTunes will automatically include oldest 10 unplayed episodes of selected podcasts and also include all episodes of other selected podcasts. Every time you connect your device and press “Sync” iTunes will take care of everything that you defined.

The variety of options you can do using Smart Playlist rules is quite wide but if you struggle with setting the right one for you leave me a comment below and I will do my best to help you.


TIP: Do you use an iPod for listening podcasts and don't like the fact that podcast episodes are not listed in chronological order? By default they go from the newer episode to the oldest one. If you want to play episodes in chronological order go to the podcast name (rather than the list of episodes) and press play button. This will play all episodes from oldest to newest.