How to create enhanced audio podcast episodes featuring images and chapters (How the itunes:image tag really works)

Since I released the latest version of Podcast Generator (which includes the support for embedded images for individual¬†podcast episodes), ¬†one of the most recurring questions has been why iTunes and the iOS Podcast app don’t show the artwork associated to single audio episodes yet keep displaying the main podcast artwork/cover art.

Apple’s technical specifications for podcasts¬†state that the¬†iTunes-specific tag¬†<itunes:image> allows to associate a cover art to the podcast feed but also¬†at the episode¬†level.¬†However, this information is currently not fully implemented by Apple since¬†it works only for the general podcast cover art, but not for single episodes, i.e. if an image is specified using the tag¬†<itunes:image> for a single episode (<item>), this is simply ignored by iTunes and the iOS podcast app, which keep displaying the general cover art.

To the best of my knowledge, the only way to show artwork (one or more images) associated to a single podcast episode is to use¬†GarageBand¬†for Mac¬†and create an “enhanced podcast”.

To do so, simply import your audio files using GarageBand (optionally, you can edit them by adding jingles or sound FX etc.) and directly drag an image on top of the audio track. This will result in the creation of a Podcast chapter that can be moved along the timeline to be shown at a specific point during the reproduction of the audio file. This operation can be repeated to create more chapters for the same episode, each of which will consists of its own image and title:Creation of enhanced audio podcast with chapters using Garage Band


Once the enhanced audio podcast is ready, it is possible to export it by selecting Share -> Export Podcast to Disk:

Export audio podcast with chapters and images to disk


The enhanced episode must be compressed using the AAC Encoder (which will produce an .m4a audio file).¬†Be sure also to select the option “Set artwork to recommended size for podcasts when exporting”:Export podcast file from GarageBand including artwork and chapters


et voilà! You will obtain an enhanced audio podcast episode!

This is the result in the Podcast app for iOS (iPhone):

Enhanced audio episode in iOS podcast app


You can download our example enhanced audio podcast episode (embedding 3 different images and chapters)and try it yourself. To do so, feel free to use the demo of Podcast Generator: there you can upload test files and play without limitations. Once you have uploaded your test file, subscribe to the demo feed using the podcast app for iOS and see the result :)

Do you need help to publish your podcast? Check out¬†my web-application called Podcast Generator. It’s free, open source and very intuitive to use. Many hosting and NAS services worldwide offer Podcast Generator¬†as a preinstalled package in their control panel so no effort is required for the installation.

Happy Podcasting!

This post also appeared on LinkedIN.