I have a podcast subscription on my Mac. For example, Marketplace. It's a daily podcast, and I often get them by downloading them to the Mac (Snow Leopard 10.6.8) with iTunes (currently 10.6.1 but has happened for a long time) and syncing to my iPhone. However, sometimes I forget, and so I download them directly to my iPhone by following the "Get More Episodes..." link in the podcast list on my iPhone 4 (iOS 5.1).


The problem is, the episode metadata for the episode downloaded on the Mac is not the same as the episode metadata for the one downloaded directly to the iPhone. This causes problems with syncing and worse, problems with sorting them to get them to play in chronological order. Here's a screenshot (top two downloaded directly to iPhone, bottom two downloaded to Mac and synced to iPhone):

screenshot showing problem

Troubleshooting so far

I've already tried:

  • contacting Applecare about an iPhone problem (they said it was iTunes)
  • contacting Applecare about an iTunes problem (they said it was the iPhone)
  • contacting Applecare about an iTunes QuickTime media issue (they said to wipe the iPhone and set it up as a new phone)
  • deleting and resubscribing everything. (I only use iTunes and the link in the iTunes store for downloading to the Mac and only use the "Get More Episodes..." link for downloading to the iPhone.)
  • turning off sync and manually copying podcasts from the Mac to the iPhone (drag and drop in iTunes)
  • syncing all episodes or syncing only the most recent ones
  • deleting the iTunes.xml from the library and re-importing the podcast folder
  • re-creating my iTunes library

You may have noticed I did not actually wipe my iPhone and set it up as a new device. That's a huge pain, because since I would not be restoring from a backup, I would loose lots of stuff. Instead, I just rebuilt the iTunes library, which made it look like a different library, which caused iTunes to wipe and re-create my iTunes library on my iPhone. And on my iPad. And it turns out I'm having the same problem on my iPad 3. Which would seem to point the finger at either the podcast publisher or iTunes on Snow Leopard. But probably not the publisher because jsd said he did could not reproduce my problem.

More detail about the problem

Episode downloaded directly to the iPhone via App Store, on the iPhone:

  • Has title like 04-11-12 Marketplace
  • Has album art
  • Does not have release date
  • Has running time

Episode downloaded to Mac via iTunes then synced to iPhone, on the iPhone:

  • Has title "Marketplace"
  • Does not have album art
  • Has release date (shown in bottom right)
  • Has running time

On the iPhone, it's possible for me to download a podcast episode I already have on the iPhone because I got it via syncing with the Mac.

The Mac will pick up episodes I downloaded to the phone during a sync, but it still has problems.

Episode downloaded directly to the iPhone via App Store, on the Mac view of iPhone:

  • Has title like 04-11-12 Marketplace
  • Does not have album art
  • Does not have release date
  • Does not have running time
  • Does not have description (episode summary)

Episode downloaded directly to the iPhone via App Store, synced to Mac, in Library Podcasts view

  • Has title like 04-11-12 Marketplace
  • Has album art
  • Does not have release date
  • Has running time
  • Does not have description (episode summary)
  • Appears at the bottom of the list of available podcasts, even if they are more recent

Episode downloaded to Mac via iTunes in Library Podcasts view on Mac:

  • Has title like 04-11-12 Marketplace
  • Has album art
  • Has release date
  • Has running time
  • Has description (episode summary)
  • Has title "Marketplace"
  • Is sorted in reverse chronological order along with other available episodes.

This is driving me nuts. I went through several rounds of Apple tech support, mostly iPhone people saying it's an iTunes problem and iTunes people saying it's an iPhone problem. The best solution they could come up with was to stop downloading episodes directly to my phone.

I'm hoping someone out there has a better solution.

EDIT: In order to find out if this problem is specific to my iPhone or Marketplace:

  • Does anyone NOT have this problem with Marketplace?
  • Does anyone NOT have this problem with some other podcast? If so, which podcast?
  • Do you ever listen on the Mac or only on iPhone? I started using pod aster.app on the phone and now no more syncing at all. It does it all right on the phone. It doesn't add them to the podcast section on the phone but it's got a good player with 30 second skip and rewind etc.
    – dstarh
    Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 1:45
  • 2
    I have this problem with my other podcasts too. I hope someone give a good answer to this. Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 6:57
  • The one thing that I want to close the loop on is finding the person at APM that controls metadata for that podcast. I have seen times when they move servers or change the metadata on the server side and make a similar mess. I'd love to rule that out since you seem to have narrowed this down to user actions in a reproducible test case.
    – bmike
    Commented May 30, 2012 at 14:37
  • @bmike, yes, this is still an issue. I opened a case and got it escalated into Apple engineering, but it seems to be dead there. I've had no luck getting a hold of anyone at APM.
    – Old Pro
    Commented May 30, 2012 at 18:34
  • As far as I can tell, I've had this problem with almost every podcast feed/episode I've downloaded. Sometimes, an even worse thing happens where an old podcast may or may not get a new episode, but then suddenly decides I don't have ANY episodes in the feed so it downloads them all over again… the funny thing is, the controlling meta data is the feed address itself which still matches, so suddenly I have a complete duplicate under the same 'album' (feed) header (disclosure triangle, etc.). Usually with identical meta-data on top of the feed url (titles, etc.! Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 15:54

2 Answers 2


You say that sometimes you "forget" to sync. Are you utilizing Wi-Fi syncing? The sync activates whenever you're on the same network and your device is plugged in. This might reduce the number of instances that you need to download a copy from your iPhone.

I realize this is a stop gap. I feel your pain. Like you, I've put a lot of effort into understanding why the leading podcast catcher can't seem to make podcasting on the iOS "just work". In the end I needed a bit of self inflicted tough-love and just admitted that this was one are that Apple fell short and that they weren't going to remedy anytime soon. They're putting their resources where the revenue streams are.

My situation forced me to change my workflow. I've been waiting for the promise an untethered world, and jumped into iCloud full steam. I use iTunes Match for my music, iCloud for my backups and no longer sync to iTunes on my computer. Of course, this means that there is no way to subscribe to podcasts on my iPhone without using a third party app.

After trying several podcast apps, I've come to like both Downcaster and Instacast. I've imported my feeds from my mac, I can subscribe to new ones on the iPhone, and I can sync to my other devices through iCloud. What I can't do is sync back to the mac. But I'm ok with that now. By using a full featured app on the iPhone, I've come to really like the experience. Given the choice today, I'd continue my new habit of listening to podcasts on my phone even while I'm working on my mac. I don't ever need iTunes open and the overall listening experience is much better.

  • Thanks for recommending some alternatives; I may need to go that way. WiFi sync doesn't move the ball forward very much; I'd still need to have my Mac turned on and iTunes open so that iTunes would automatically fetch the podcast and sync it to the phone. Neither of those are a given.
    – Old Pro
    Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 17:51

I suspect you have somehow added two slightly different feed sources - one on the mac and one on the phone. Delete all episodes of the podcast from both places and start over with just a single subscription initiated in iTunes on the Mac.

Here's how I went about testing my idea about feed sources being the issue:

I just "subscribed" to Marketplace by manually downloading the same episode on both my phone and my Mac without having any pre-existing subscription on either.

When I synced (WiFi?), I did not end up with a duplicate episode.

Then, to try to break things, I also tried downloading an episode on the phone and syncing it to the Mac once the download completed. I am not able to reproduce the problem you describe with artwork/title mismatch.

  • In both cases I have downloaded directly from the iTunes store. On the iPhone, I follow the "Get More Episodes..." link at the bottom of the podcast's episode list. I have already tried deleting all episodes of all podcasts from the iPhone and deleting and resubscribing on the Mac and tried various syncing strategies in iTunes. Please describe in more detail what you did (Mac OS, iPhone model, podcast sync settings, etc.). Note that I'm having this problem with the only 3 podcasts I use this way, i.e. all the podcasts I've tried.
    – Old Pro
    Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 0:45
  • 1
    Mac OS Lion 10.7.3, iOS 5.1, iTunes 10.6.1(7), Automatically include 3 most recent unplayed episodes of all podcasts.
    – jsd
    Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 16:13
  • Are you sure you didn't have any problems? I didn't post a screenshot but read toward the bottom of my post where I explain how they looked wrong on my Mac. Because I'm having the same problem on my new iPad 3. Grrrr.
    – Old Pro
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 3:33
  • I should also ask how you subscribed and downloaded the podcasts? Did you do as I did and subscribe directly via the iTunes store and download via the "Get More Episodes..." link?
    – Old Pro
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 3:38
  • 1
    Yeah, they don't look wrong on my Mac. I added the subscription in iTunes on the mac, and then also did "get more episodes" on the phone. Even when I manually grabbed the same ep on the mac and the phone, syncing did not create dupes. It's probably a big pain in the ass, but you could try creating a brand new iTunes library and syncing your new ipad with that to see if the problem persists.
    – jsd
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 16:14

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