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Summary:

If you acquire television shows from sources other than the iTunes Store for enjoyment on your iOS device, some of that enjoyment may be frustrated by a bug that inexplicably missorts shows and episodes. Luckily, the fix is simple, if a little illogical.

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If you acquire television shows from sources other than the iTunes Store for enjoyment on your iOS device, some of that enjoyment may be frustrated by a bug that inexplicably missorts shows and episodes. Luckily, the fix is simple, if a little illogical.

In the above screenshot from the iPod app on an iPhone 4 running iOS 4.2.1, two shows are listed on the left, Fringe and The Office, the latter showing seven episodes. However, drilling down into The Office reveals three episodes of that show, three of Caprica, and one of Fringe. A variation of this problem may also create an “unknown” television show with one or more shows and episodes within. Annoyingly, this can happen even if shows are properly tagged.

Tagging television shows is done in iTunes through the Get Info (Command + I) dialog box under the Video tab, where show, season, episode ID, and episode number can be edited. Unfortunately, even if all that information is correct, and displays correctly in iTunes, it still might not work right on an iOS device. I’ve seen this problem on an iPhone, an iPod touch, and an iPad, but strangely never on an Apple TV 2.

The solution is to go to the “Info” tab where the “Name” of the episode is found, and under “Artist” enter the show’s name. It makes no sense, but it works. As can be seen above, the episode number is also entered under “Track Number.” Previously, shows that were correctly grouped might have episodes listed alphabetically unless ordered with the Track Number. Apparently, that was fixed in iOS 4. Hopefully, the this bug will soon be fixed, too, but until then this workaround solves the problem of missorted television shows.

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  1. I’m getting a little irked at how bad video sync is on my iOS devices. The iPad always sorted TV episodes alphabetically making it impossible to watch them in order without checking IMDB for the episode order. Found out I needed to make up a bogus Episode ID as well in numerical order to match the Episode Number I would assign (Episode 02, ID 002 etc). Doing this finally sorted my TV Episodes on my iPad.

    Now, however, I have to check ‘Manually Manage…’ every time I sync my iPad, even if I never unplug it from the computer. My brother rented a movie on his iPad and it never showed up in his videos until I told him to sync it with that checked. I’m a huge apple fan, but that kind of stupidity is just too much. They REALLY need to address this is 4.3; I’m technically smart with this stuff, can’t imagine what the general populous does.

    And then this morning only about half the movies I was trying to sync actually showed up, ran out of time before work to figure it out but I think that what you explained up above will take care of it. Thanks guys!

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  2. Thanks. I’ve been having trouble trying to figure out how to correct this with different TV shows on my iPad. Seems like an odd fix, but I’ll give it a shot later.

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  3. Here’s a iTunes script that will automatically swap tags for you.
    http://dougscripts.com/219

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  4. Any notice if this bug is fixed in 4.3 update recently released? None of the relevant discussion threads in Apple Forums say one way or another…

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