Like many here, I'm dismayed by some of the ways that iTunes 11.1 now handles podcasts: that appalling view of "SHOW ME EVERYTHING" in the List pane in particular.
What I'm providing here are a few tips and suggestions for things that seem to be working for me.
- In iTunes: List view is now basically useless, so lots of us are moving to the previously-disliked My Podcasts pane. (I don't like it either, but it currently seems the best option.) Your podcasts are probably in no order whatsoever, BUT you can drag and drop them to your preferred order. Yeah, this takes a while and is annoying, but a good part of the (improved?) syncing with iOS: the same order will also appear in your Podcasts app on the iPhone! And vice versa: I actually reordered them on my iPhone (hey, I was bored on the subway), and to my surprise the new order appeared on iTunes when I got home.
- Deleting podcast episodes: in iTunes, don't delete them. If you delete them, they'll download again the next time you sync. Instead, mark them as played, and then re-sync - that's the only way I've found to get rid of them in iTunes. On the other hand, you CAN still delete in the Podcasts app, and then, once iTunes is synced again, those deleted episodes will also disappear from iTunes (which I believe is actually an improvement). (They'll still appear in that stupid List view, but now with a cloud icon.)
- In iTunes, you can choose the podcast subscription settings: the option that seems to work best for me is Download ALL. That sounds scary - like you're going to get all 400 episodes of Stuff You Should Know - but as best I can tell it doesn't mean Download All; it means Download ALL NEW (big difference!). This is especially useful for podcasts that often put out a few episodes at a time (Fresh Air, Bill Maher): if you just Download Most Recent, you'll be missing some.
- Note that podcast subscription settings seem to automatically sync across iTunes and the Podcasts app. If you unsubscribe in Podcasts, then you also unsubscribe in iTunes. (I suspect this lies behind how many people suddenly found themselves unsubscribed to their Podcasts.)
- For those with a big collection of podcast episodes that they want to keep: change the Media Kind! Spoken, I change to Audiobooks, and Music, to, well, Music. I've done this for years, and this is probably the only reason I didn't lose massive collections of podcasts with 11.1. It makes managing your library a lot easier. EDITTED ADDITIONAL NOTE: Unfortunately any epsidodes that are changed like this will then be re-downloaded, because, well, because iTunes wants to make your life miserable, I guess. Mark the re-downloaded episodes as played (because deleting doesn't work ), and they'll disappear again.
- Use smart playlists. "Media Kind = Podcast", and "Plays = 0". Such a playlist is more useful for viewing than anything left in the Podcasts section in iTunes, although unfortunately you can't refresh from that playlist - you still have to go to the now-appalling Podcasts section.
- Using the Podcasts iOS app isn't actually that bad. "My Stations" is the foolish name for what is called "Playlists" everywhere else, and your iTunes podcast playlists should appear there (with the usual too-complicated syncing nonsense for setup). You can play podcasts quite well in "My Stations", although unfortunately you can't mix it with audiobooks or music.