Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hacking The Zune Podcast Feature To Give You Bookmarks For Your Audio Books

I got a Zune (www.zune.net) about a year and a half ago and have been quite happy with it. One of the major features that was lacking was the ability to save your place if you were listening to an audio book. I spend a lot of my time listening to self-help audio books and religious audio books. In order to keep track of my place in the audio book I realized I had two choices: just listen to one audio book and nothing else since the Zune remembers your last listening location, or have my audio books have many small tracks and try to remember the track that I was on.

As you can imagine, both of these methods have serious follies. I looked online to see if there was some sort of hack that could provide some sort of bookmark functionality, but didn't find anything of value. I did, however, stumble upon a forum post where someone suggested that you put your audio files into the Podcast section of your Zune. I realized that the Zune keeps track of your last listening location in each of your Podcast episodes. I immediately tried to drag files into the Podcast section of the Zune software, but it didn't take.

After a lot of investigation and trial and error, I found that marking the mp3 as an "ITUNESPODCAST" (iTunes podcast), if you drag it into your Zune software under music, it would immediately recognize it as a Podcast.

Here's how I did it:

First, download Mp3Tag (http://www.mp3tag.de/en/download.html), which is software you are going to want regardless. Mp3Tag makes it SOOO much easier to tag your mp3s with proper information about the album, artist, song, etc.


Second, you're going to want to change a couple settings to make Mp3Tag a little easier to use.

Set Mp3Tag so it doesn't annoy you every time you save mp3 tag information:

Under Tools-> Options-> Messages

image

Now make it so Mp3Tag will auto-save everything you change so you don't have to manually save every time you make a change:

Under Tools-> Options-> Tags

image


Third, open the mp3 you will want to add by either dragging it into Mp3Tag or using the open dialog.


Fourth, add the ITUNESPODCAST=1 extended tag to the mp3 by right-clicking on the mp3 in Mp3Tag and click on "Extended Tags..."

image

image

You can also set up your other tag info (you will mainly be concerned about the Title and Album information) for your Podcast file.


Fifth, just go to the 'Music' section of your Zune software and drag your quasi Podcast file into your Zune software, or put it where Zune will pick it up, and you now have a Podcast file that will save your place when you listen to it!


7 comments:

herb said...

Thank you kind sir, you have made my day much better.

adsense said...

I'm glad I could help. Just spreading the love.

Eric said...

AHHH you da man. I use my new zune for audio books as well and I was a hatin it. How could they not add the bookmark feature.

Very nice solution!!


Many thanks!

Big E

Sirocco said...

I discovered this feature in the store while I was playing with it, at which point I happily realized that it would be a great way for me to play my recorded radio shows. I wonder if setting the id3 genre tag to "audiobook" or "podcast" would also work - as is the case with the Sansa Fuze.

I was able to make this discovery, by accident, because the unit I was playing with at BestBuy just happened to have 2 longish files under Podcast, perfect for my experiment.

I also noticed that, when in a podcast file, that left or right clicking skips forward or ahead 5 minutes, which is nice, and that it has a fast FF/REW - most DAP's have an annoyingly slow FF/REW. These 2 other features, besides the "auto resume", make the Zune particularly suitable for audio books or recorded radio shows, which can be many hours.

The ability to auto-resume on each file under Podcast may actually be easier than relying on bookmarks, since it eliminates the need to manage bookmarks, even though one can't bookmark multiple points in the same file, which can also be handy.

But I wouldn't call this a hack, since you're actually using the feature as it was intended.

Jeff Derrick said...

Just tried this and it works great! Thanks! I was also able to get it to work by changing genre tag to "podcast" and not setting the "ITUNESPODCAST" tag at all!

dmodegirl said...

Maybe I'm missing something but how do you add the audiobook image? I had mine in the folder and it didn't attach itself to "podcast".

Thanks either way, it's been a great time saver!

kylehorne said...

It won't let me import! i tried dragging and it wouldn't let me!