How to Publish Podcasts to iTunes with OS X

In this article, we will show you how to manually code, submit and host your podcasts so they not only appear in iTunes but pop up on iTunes for your future subscribers to download.

Once you’ve recorded your audio (or video) podcast, you need to save it as an M4A, MP3, MOV or M4V and make it as small as you can without compromising quality too much.

The next step is to host the file somewhere public, e.g. accessible via a URL. This way you can send the URL to any aggregation service including iTunes. Specifically for iTunes, you need to have the file online with a URL that Apple’s servers can find and download or stream it from.

Note: check if the server you are intending to host your episodes on supports byte-range requests, as this makes it easier for users to stream your episodes.

Next you have to create an album cover image or icon for the store to feature and for it to also be the icon for the podcast when it’s downloaded to iTunes on a computer. It can be either PNG or JPG and must have a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 2048 x 2048. Create it in Photoshop or GIMP and save the file: for example, as “wicked-cover-image.jpg”.

Create an album cover image or icon.

Now here’s the important bit. You aren’t creating a feed for a single podcast; you are making an XML file for your “show” or channel. This file is read by iTunes every time you submit a new episode to your show, and it contains all the details that users see on the iTunes Store – titles, subtitles, show notes, etc.

An entry in the iTunes store.

A sample XML file breaks down like this: you declare first that this is an XML document, and then the iTunes tags in a namespace declaration as follows:

<!--?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?-->
 <rss xmlns:itunes="http://www.itunes.com/dtds/podcast-1.0.dtd" version="2.0">

If you forget to include this, the iTunes specific XML tags will be ignored. Then add an opening <channel> tag, a <title> tag, a <link> to the podcast website, and a <language> and <copyright> tag:

<channel>
 <title>MY PODCAST TITLE</b></title>
 <link>http://www.mypodcastexample.com/podcasts/mypodcast/index.html</link>
 <language>en-us</language>
 <copyright>&#xA9; 2015 Phil South</copyright>

Note: this is an XML file and not an HTML file so you can’t use the HTML code “&copy;” for the copyright symbol, you must use the Unicode “&#xA9;” instead.

Following these openers we begin the <itunes:> tags. These fill out the general fields in the entry of your podcast on iTunes, the subtitle, author, a summary and description.

<itunes:subtitle>insert a witty subtitle here</itunes:subtitle>
 <itunes:author>Phil South</itunes:author>
 <itunes:summary>Here you can put a description of your podcast, and if you don't have this tag for whatever reason the contents of the description tag will be used. Note that the text is not enclosed in quotes.</itunes:summary>
 <description>description text goes here. Usually this is the same as the summary text.</description>

Summaries pop up when you press the “info” icon in iTunes.

Summaries pop up when you press the 'circled i' button.

Next there is an <owner> tag. This is not included publicly in the entry in iTunes but is used as the admin contact for the feed:

<itunes:owner>
 <itunes:name>Phil South</itunes:name>
 <itunes:email>phil@example.com</itunes:email>
 </itunes:owner>

The next image tag contains the link to the cover image of the overall show on your server:

<itunes:image href="http://www.mypodcastexample.com/podcasts/mypodcast/wicked-cover-image.jpg" />

Finally, make a statement about the intended category or multiple categories where iTunes should store your entry in its database:

<itunes:category text="Technology">
 <itunes:category text="Gadgets"/>
 </itunes:category>
 <itunes:category text="TV & Film"/>

Take a bit of time to go through the different categories and subcategories on iTunes to make sure you are listed in all that apply.

Having specified your overall podcast channel, you can now make entries for individual episodes. Each episode is enclosed by the item tag. Then you can add the title, author, subtitle, summary and image tags, as you did for the overall show. Obviously, you can add an image for this specific episode:

<item>
 <title>Episode 1 - The Beginning</title>
 <itunes:author>Phil South</itunes:author>
 <itunes:subtitle>another short witty subtitle</itunes:subtitle>
 <itunes:summary>Here is where you put the description of the individual episode</itunes:summary>
 <itunes:image href="http://www.mypodcastexample.com/podcasts/mypodcast/wicked-episode01-cover-image.jpg" />

The only difference with the episode entry is that you need to give a link to the actual podcast file, and you do this here with the enclosure tag:

<enclosure url="http://www.mypodcastexample.com/podcasts/mypodcast/episode001.m4a" length="30212381" type="audio/x-m4a" />

The length “30212381” is the size in bytes which can be obtained from the file, Right Mouse Button -> Get Info (or ?-I).

Next is a guid tag, which is a sort of permalink. Make sure you point it at a permanent archive copy of the podcast, in case the original file is ever deleted or moved for any reason.

<guid>http://www.mypodcastexample.com/podcasts/mypodcast/archive/episode001.m4a</guid>

The publication date is next, and this can be a date in the past, present or future.

Note: When coding the <pubDate> tag, make sure it conforms to the RFC2822 standard or like so:

<pubDate>Wed, 15 Mar 2015 07:30:00 GMT</pubDate>

Then you must add the duration of the podcast. You can see this in your sound editing software or by using Get Info, with Right Mouse Button -> Get Info (or ?-I).

<itunes:duration>67:15</itunes:duration>

Lastly, close up the whole file by adding a closing <item>, <channel> and <rss> tag.

</item>
 </channel>
 </rss>

Once you have made the podcast, made a cover image, written the XML file and uploaded all those files to your website, you have to submit the URL or your XML file to Apple, and you do this here: submit your RSS podcast feed URL to Apple via iTunes.

Submit your URL or your XML file to Apple.

Full technical specs of the XML commands and everything else you might need to know are available from Apple.

There is another way to make the XML feed, and that’s with paid software, but which is best? Manual is always better if you can bear to type out all of the code (or better yet make a template and fill in the blanks), but sometimes a helping hand can help out with those annoying typos.