How to Make iTunes Refresh Podcasts on a Schedule

The problem to be solved here is that it’s a hassle to remember to tell iTunes to update your podcasts before you sync your iPod or iPhone to get the latest shows. The easiest thing to do on iOS is to use a podcatching client like Downcast, which lets you skip iTunes altogether but if you’ve got an iPod Nano or Shuffle, you don’t have this option. iTunes sort of has it’s own little schedule it decides on for updating podcasts, which seems to be related to some time you asked it to do this before.

In this very easy tutorial we’ll use some tools that you may not have used before but I assure you it IS quick and easy and reliable. The basic idea is that we’re going to create a calendar event using Automator, and we’re going to stick an AppleScript into it which will tell iTunes it to refresh your podcasts.

Open Automator from Your Applications Folder

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Automator Opens Asking What Type You Want to Create

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Click on Calendar Alarm and then click Choose.

Automator Main Window

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Automator works by letting you drag and drop actions into the workflow on the right, and then modify the options. We need to find one of the actions, so click in the search field in the top center

Search for AppleScript

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Once Run AppleScript comes up in the list, simply drag it into the workflow area.

Run AppleScript Default

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Once we drop the Run AppleScript action into the Automator workflow you’ll see a section that says

(* Your script goes here *)

We’re going to drop in a block of code that I found on an Apple Discussion board posted by a guy named Steven Shulte

Copy the following text, and replace (* Your script goes here *) with

tell application "iTunes"
        activate
        updateAllPodcasts
end tell

Your New AppleScript

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Your AppleScript should look exactly as you see above. Save your Automator Calendar Event with a name like “Refresh iTunes” or something like that you’d like to see on your calendar. As soon as you hit Save, Calendar will open up with your new Calendar Event created by Automator.

Automator Calendar Event

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There’s a couple of things to notice here. First, our calendar event only happens once, and since I created it right around noon, it put the event right at noon. Secondly notice that it created a calendar called Automator and it’s On My Mac, not in iCloud. In my case that’s perfect because I only want to see this here on my Mac, not sprinkled about on my iOS devices where it would just clutter things up.

Let’s double click the event and click Edit so we can change some settings so it repeats and is at a time of our choosing – since that’s the whole purpose of this exercise!

Edit Calendar Event

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Let’s edit this event to make it function the way we like.

Edited Event

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Here’s how I set mine up – change yours to meet your needs:

  1. I didn’t like the name I chose so I can change it here (but you’ll notice the alert is calling our Automator Action
  2. I changed the time to 6pm (and notice the start and end times are the same
  3. I set the repeat to be Every day and end Never
  4. Click Done

Calendar After Our Changes

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With the calendar showing as above, Every night at 6pm, iTunes will launch automatically and refresh podcasts so it’s ready for you to sync your iPod at your convenience. Remember that if you don’t like the time you’ve chosen you can simply edit the calendar event time and you’ll be all set. Heck, you could even create one of these for weekday updates and another one for weekend updates if you like to sleep in!

1 thought on “How to Make iTunes Refresh Podcasts on a Schedule

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