Manually Adding Podcasts to Windows Phone 8.1

This was a weird problem.  I had manually downloaded a Podcast series on my computer (the entire series was no longer available through their feed) and wanted to move it over to my Windows Phone to listen to.

I could do this using the File Explorer – and the transfer worked fine, but I could not listen to the podcast via the podcast app.  When I tried to open the “audio” collection inside the app, it was blank. 

So if I transferred the podcast via the explorer, I had to use the music app to listen to it.  That seemed wrong.  I even tried creating a “Podcasts” folder in a couple of places, but had no luck there either. 

Windows Phone App for Desktop

It seemed like I was out of luck, but a little searching led me to this page, where I found the “Windows Phone App for Desktop” from Microsoft.  I installed it, and it loaded and initialized and generally took forever to start, but when it did, sure enough there was a Podcast tab right there, with syncing options! 

Unfortunately, there were no Podcasts listed.

Now this wasn’t unexpected – after all it had no way of knowing how I organized my Podcasts, and there was a handy “Add or remove folders” button right there next to the syncing options.  So I pressed it.

You might guess what happened next.  An error dialog told me, “We couldn’t find your podcasts library, but you can create a new one using windows explorer and we’ll use that.”

I kind of thought that was what “Add or remove folders” meant, but okay…


Despite having already wasted far more time on this than it was worth to me, I decided to see it through because I really wanted to know what the heck was going on.

It turns out that the key word in the error message was “library”.  Starting in Windows 7, you could organize groups of folders into a single “Library” and access it like a single folder.  So when “Windows Phone app for desktop”, complained about a missing Podcast library it meant you literally need to create a new library called “Podcasts”.

Unfortunately, Windows 8.1 hides your libraries by default, so to create a new one, you must first show your existing ones.  I used a slightly different procedure:

  1. Open an Explorer window.
  2. Select the “View” tab.
  3. On the left, open the “Navigation Pane” menu.
  4. Select “Show libraries”.

Now that you can see your libraries, you can create a new Podcast library:

  1. Selecty “Libraries” in the navigation pane.
  2. Right-click => “New” => “Library”.
  3. Rename it “Podcasts”.
  4. Right-click => “Properties”.
  5. Under “Optimize this library for:”, select Music.
  6. Open the library by double-clicking it.
  7. Point it to your Podcasts by using the “Include a folder” button.

That’s it.  Restart the “Windows Phone app for desktop” and start syncing your podcasts manually!