Carolinian Redux
Meditation on the Nature of Identity

Making an MP3 File into a "Podcast" on your Iphone

I place a lot of spoken-word MP3 files on my iPhone manually. It has been extremely frustrating to me that such files have no "30-second backup," and lose track of where you were if you switch to another file. These deficits have been a source of nearly endless frustration. So, this week I got off my dead keister and Googled the question. Turns out the solution is quite simple: simply tell the iPhone that the MP3 file IS a podcast.

CAUTION: For reasons I will explain later, don't do this until you have come up with a naming convention for your MP3 files. Trust me on this.

These instructions are for the Windows version of Itunes. If you have a Mac, YMMV.

  1. Select the file you want, in either the music folder on your iphone, or in the playlist. You may select multiple files; this still works.
  2. Hit ctrl-i (on a mac, I think the key combination is apple-i).
  3. Click on the "options" tab
  4. Under "Media Kind," select "podcast"
  5. Click the "remember playback position" check box

That is almost there is to it. The special sauce, my intellectual contribution to this subject, comes from the fact that, once I had reset all these files, they no longer appeared in the Music folder on the iPhone. They also didn't suddenly appear in the Podcast folder.  I stitched together information from several sites to come up with a way of managing the songs.

Experienced users realize that if you delete an MP3 file  from a playlist, it is still on the phone, just not in the playlist. For songs and podcasts loaded the normal way, you can got to the folder "Music" or "Podcasts" on your iPhone. When you delete a file in one of those folders, it is really gone.

"Fake" podcasts appear in neither folder. How do you find them? How do you delete them? Well, you can delete them by selecting a file in a playlist, then hitting shift-delete (the key combo is different on a mac; I don't know what it is). Remember, if you just hit "delete," you delete the file from the playlist but NOT your iPhone.

What if you thoughtlessly delete, rather than shift delete? Like Charlie on the MTA, is your file destined to ride forever neath the streets of Boston? Well, no. You can still see every file on your iPhone if you create a Smart Playlist:

  1. on the edit menu, select New Smart Playlist
  2. Set a rule that none of your files will meet, like "artist is x"
  3. The new smart playlist will now show every file on your iPhone, podcasts, music and "podcasts."

Here's a tip learned from painful experience: hand-loaded MP3 files are much easier to manage if you adopt a naming convention. All of mine start with an _ (underscore) character followed by the date (20120805--be sure to use the zeroes if you want alpha order to be equal to date order). Thus, a file I recorded last week would be "_20120815 programname."

It is not often I can make a contribution to the world's store of knowledge, but in this case, I feel I have synthesized and clarified a half-dozen articles. On the other hand, I may be the only person in the world whose iPhone is half loaded with hand-managed MP3 files.