iTunes is the largest podcast directory and it powers many podcast apps. Here’s how to fix the most common podcasting problems you may face with iTunes.

Directory information

All the information about your podcast in iTunes (title, descriptions, episode, cover art, copyright, etc.) is pulled from your RSS feed. Thus, to change how your podcast is listed in the iTunes store, you need to change the information in your RSS feed.

This would be in FeedBurner only if you’re using the horrible “SmartCast” feature. Otherwise, make the changes where the feed is being generated.

Ratings, reviews, ranking, and related podcasts are maintained by Apple, and you can’t change them.

Missing the latest episode

I’m quite certain this is the most common iTunes issue podcasters complain about. They’ll publish a new episode and then look at their iTunes listing only to see the latest episode isn’t there yet.

DON’T PANIC!

First, if the episode downloads fine for you (subscribed to your own podcast) and others, then there’s probably nothing wrong. People are subscribed directly to your RSS feed, so it doesn’t matter whether iTunes displays the latest episode in the store. Your subscribers will still download it automatically according to their app’s settings.

iTunes caches everything, so it can sometimes take up to 24 hours for a new episode to appear. However, iTunes also learns your publishing frequency and may update your podcast more quickly around the time you consistently publish a new episode.

If you’ve waited at least 24 hours, login to Podcasts Connect with the Apple ID you used to submit your podcast, click on your podcast and click to refresh your feed. Then wait another 24 hours.

If your iTunes listing still hasn’t updated, there may be a different problem with your feed causing issues with iTunes. Libsyn has seen this to most commonly be the podcast cover art. See the next section for tips on fixing that.

But if the latest episode doesn’t download, then you may need to fix common podcast RSS feed problems.

Podcast cover art hasn’t updated

If you changed your podcast cover art but it hasn’t updated, yet, in iTunes. It could be one of several issues.

  1. Broken URL—This is the basic “Did you turn it on?” issue, but it could still be a problem. Ensure the URL actually works. I recommend opening a private/incognito browser window to check.
  2. Time—Wait at least 24 hours. If it still hasn’t updated, login to Podcasts Connect with the Apple ID you used to submit your podcast, and refresh your feed. Then wait another 24 hours.
  3. File size—This is the most common problem I see. The image file needs to be smaller than 512 KB for iTunes to be able to process it. Try extra image compression, smoother or no textures, or fewer colors to get the file size smaller.
  4. Filename and URL—iTunes will only know to update the image if the URL has changed. This could be automatically changed if your image URL has a date. But I still recommend changing the file name. It could be as simply as adding a version number or year to the file.
  5. Pixel dimensions—Your cover art should be at least 1,400 × 1,400 or at most 3,000 × 3,000. Anything outside that may cause issues.
  6. Image hosting—Where your podcast cover art is hosted must support HTTP HEAD requests. Most web-hosting and all podcast-hosting companies support this. But file-sharing tools may not.
  7. Color format—Images must be 16-bit RGB. Anything else may cause problems.
  8. Wrong file format—Images must be JPEG (.jpg or .jpeg) or PNG (.png). Anything else won’t work.

If you change anything, remember to wait at least another 24 hours.

In the very rare case, there may be a problem on Apple’s side, so contact them through Podcasts Connect to ask that they force refresh, after you have done everything else.

You can’t see your podcast’s reviews

Being able to see your podcasts’ reviews in iTunes has several layers and points of potential oversight.

  1. Different countries—iTunes is currently available in 155 countries. When you submit your podcast to Apple, your podcast is automatically added to all these others iTunes Stores (explicit podcasts are excluded from a few countries). Each iTunes store has its own rankings, ratings, and reviews for your podcast. Thus, you may simply be looking at the wrong country. You could manually switch iTunes between its 155 countries, or use My Podcast Reviews to check them all automatically.
  2. Confusion with ratings—People can rate a podcast with one to five stars without writing a review, but every written review must have a rating. Thus, it’s possible someone merely rated your podcast but didn’t write a review. Apple doesn’t offer any identifying information or ratings API.
  3. Incompleted process—It’s possible whoever wrote the review didn’t complete the process.
  4. Automatic filtering—Apple has automatic filters to prevent profanity from appearing in iTunes. Thus, any review with profanity may be automatically removed.
  5. Time—Because Apple caches the iTunes stores, it could take 24 hours for new reviews to appear, or even longer if Apple is already having problems. Some of the My Podcast Reviews copycats have also run into API issues that result in missing reviews, but My Podcast Reviews has been specially designed to not be susceptible to such API issues.

Thank you for the podcast reviews!

    Your written iTunes reviews encourage me and they help other people find the podcast. If you appreciate the podcasting information I share, please write your own review on iTunes or Stitcher!

    Check out My Podcast Reviews to get your own podcast reviews automatically emailed to you and learn how to grow your audience with reviews!

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    About the Author
    As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his wife, Jenny, live near Cincinnati with their son, "Noodle Boy."

    16 comments on How to Fix Common iTunes Podcast Problems – TAP272

    1. Rudy Girecek says:

      Daniel, I have learned a lot from your podcast! In this episode you mentioned Squarespace in sort of a bad way when talking about running a podcast from it. I believe you were saying that Feedburner would have to be used…
      Why so down on Squarespace for podcasting? I run the cascadehikerpodcast.com through Squarespace and it is very easy. I am curious what you see wrong with it? Also, I don’t use Feedburner.

      Thanks Bro!

    2. malhal says:

      How do you fix the Subscribe and Get buttons not working on Sierra 10.12.2 (16C67) and iTunes 12.5.4.42?

      1. Jaime Sala says:

        No answer from no one. iTunes sucks… Big time.

        1. Yes, it has been junk for at least five years, a joke around Apple circles

      2. That’s an app issue, not a podcast feed issue. You’ll need to contact Apple for help with that.

    3. Simon Harris says:

      Hi, My Podcasts are playing fine on iPhones and iPads but when I click the play button in the iTunes store on my Mac, it just buffers them forever. One of them plays OK and it’s the shortest Podcast with the smallest file size (8mb) so I thought it’s maybe the smaller file size but as a test I took a longer podcast and reduced the bit rate so that the file size is less than 10mb but it still just buffers in iTunes on my mac – any help appreciated 🙂

      1. I have the SAME problem! Any idea folks??

    4. Shawn Moreau says:

      When i’m listening to a podcast by itself it wont go to the next episode even after I downloaded all the episodes… Help?

    5. T-MeX says:

      I uploaded my podcast on itunes, there are a total of 91 episodes on my channel, but only the latest 24 show on itunes, how so? How do I get the others on there?

      1. That all comes from your RSS feed. So you need to go to what’s creating the feed and increase the limit for the number of items they’ll publish in the feed.

    6. jurassicbond says:

      I’m unable to update my podcasts on my iPod. I need to use it when I drive and it’s very annoying when they are not getting updated. I plug it in the computer, click refresh on my iTunes to see if I have any new episodes…but nothing changes on my iPod. It should all be synced.

      1. You’ll need to contact Apple for support on that. This post is focused on helping podcasters.

        1. jurassicbond says:

          Oh, thanks for the heads up.

    7. Matthew Leonard says:

      Daniel – Hoping you can help. I’ve tried forums and done a number of searches, left requests in the Apple Support Forums, and Blubrry forums to no avail.
      Sometime during the last month (in-between my latest episodes), my podcast (The Art of Catholic) got all janked up the IOS Podcast app. (It appears fine in the iTunes Store.) Regular listeners started contacting me saying that the latest episode (#68) wasn’t showing up. Some said they were unable to Subscribe and the entire Feed doesn’t show. Sometimes the art doesn’t show. The last time I tried it a few moments ago, I unsubscribed to my own show and then logged back in. Now I can see the art and the episodes, but am unable to subscribe. Then I closed the app, opened it and the art is gone again and no feed. This is insane and incredibly frustrating. I tried something you suggested in a post about refreshing the feed. Hasn’t worked. Any advice? Thanks so much.

    8. Jake Holmes says:

      Hi there I just checked my podcast and it has 1 review a few days ago it had 18 do you have any idea why?

    9. Howdy! I just started a podcast “Financial Samurai” on iTunes, and I notice it works on my phone, but when I go to my iTunes page on my laptop and click an episode, it just pinwheels and never loads. Any idea what’s up with that? https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/financial-samurai/id1324765509?mt=2

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