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Have you ever run into problems using iTunes or any other podcast-downloading app, concerned that they either do too much or seem to take a while to load up? Perhaps you use Windows Media Player or a different desktop application and have been looking for an alternative? You might even be using a Windows Phone and are already familiar with using Zune for syncing data, updating the OS and listening to music.
But did you know that Zune can also be used for managing podcasts? Simply by adding RSS feeds to the app, clicking dedicated buttons on websites hosting podcasts or by using the dedicated podcast library in the application, you can enjoy a wealth of audio entertainment.
Why Use Zune?
While there is every reason to use iTunes – which is of course the de facto media syncing tool for many – using Zune is a great alternative that is designed to specifically run under Windows. Some might argue that iTunes for Windows is similarly dedicated, but you might also find plenty of users experiencing performance issues with it.
As Zune is free, and necessary for Windows Phone users, it is a sensible option to take, especially as a replacement for Windows Media Player. It is also very easy to use, and beautifully designed, featuring a version of the Metro UI that can be found on Xbox 360 and Windows Phone.
Adding Podcasts To Zune
There are three ways to add podcasts to Zune – using an RSS feed, clicking a smart link on a webpage, or by finding it in the Zune library.
To add a podcast to Zune and begin downloading recent podcasts and have them synced to your phone, first find the RSS feed for the podcast. You might find this by visiting the website that hosts the podcast.
Next, open Zune, and in Collection > Podcasts select Add a podcast and in the Subscribe box paste the RSS feed URL. Zune will then check the link and begin downloading podcasts.
Using a website smart link is even easier – simply look out for the distinctive Zune logo on webpages hosting podcasts and click it to add it to your collection.
The third option is probably the simplest. In Zune, open Marketplace > Podcasts, find the podcast you are looking for and use the Subscribe button to add it.
No Podcast Link? No Problem!
Due to localization issues, some countries (such as the UK and Australia) will be unable to find the Podcast view in Zune. Fortunately this can be fixed using a registry editor such as the native Windows Registry Editor.
To begin, type regedit in the Windows Start menu and tap Enter to load the Registry Editor.
Next, expand HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Zune, and in the right-hand pane right-click and select New > Key and call it FeaturesOverride.
You are then ready to add the instruction to the registry to force display of the Podcast library menu in Zune’s Marketplace view. Do this by right-clicking FeaturesOverride and selecting New > DWORD, naming it Podcasts.
You should then double-click on this entry and set the Value data to 1, then click OK and close the Registry Editor.
All that is needed now is to reopen Zune, where you will find podcasts added to the Marketplace menu!
Adjusting Your Podcast Settings
With your chosen podcast added to Zune, there are a couple of things you will need to check. First is your current sync setup, which determines what data is sent to your phone or media player.
To adjust this, open Settings > Software > Collection and against Podcasts hit the Manage button to set the correct location for podcasts to be downloaded to. In the Phone tab, go to Sync Options and against Podcasts you will see two choices: All and Items I choose.
With your preferred choice made, finally open Settings > Software > Podcasts and set the number of episodes you want and the playback order (newest first/last).
That’s it – your podcasts are added and configured! Next time you sync your phone or media player these will be transferred to your device for you to listen to – or you could just enjoy them on your PC.
ITunes is of course the market leading music library and podcast syncing tool – but if you’re looking for an alternative that looks slick and makes good use of the on-screen real estate, you could do a lot worse than Zune.
Even if you find that there are some expected features missing, they can be restored and managing your podcast feeds and downloads is extremely easy. As long as you have a device synced to the software you can take these podcasts with you anywhere you go!