Downloading Podcasts at “off-peak” times

Like many people outside of the US I have a bandwidth limit on my broadband.  I can go above it but it adds extra cost.  However my ISP has a period overnight (“off-peak“) when bandwidth doesn’t count.   Given the use of the BBC iPlayer and other things, I’ve started trying to avoid doing large downloads during the day time.   Given that I cannot do much about iPlayer as generally one want to watch the programme there and then, the other major items that consume bandwidth are: software updates (particularly some of the hefty Mac OS X updates and iOS updates), and video podcasts (the ones that I subscribe to are not particularly large — 100MB to 300MB each but over a month they do mount up).  While I can usually contrive to do software updates once a week in the morning during the last half-hour or so of “off-peak” time, I really want podcasts to be updated at least each day and don’t really want to have to do it manually.

The solution that I have used for Mac OS X and which I have seen in various forms on a number of websites and have implemented is a very short AppleScript:

tell application “iTunes”


end tell

This can then be saved as an application “UpdatePodcasts”.   Running the resulting application will launch iTunes if it isn’t already running and will update all of the podcasts.

A little bit of playing with iCal allows this to be automatically called during the early hours of the morning.  One creates an Alarm in iCal to run at an appropriate time in the early hours.  The alarm is set to Open a File — UpdatePodcasts.  Provided my MacBook is left logged in, this then causes it to go away and download new podcasts at a convenient time.

To make this work sensibly, I’ve also turned off the automatic refreshing on podcasts.   There is a preference in iTunes which allows you to set it to refresh podcasts every so often — I’ve set it to manual so that podcasts are only refreshed as a result of a specific action — normally my AppleScript.

This has been working well for the last week or so and has shifted quite a bit of downloading out to the off-peak time.

What I haven’t found a solution for is the problem of one or two really large iOS applications.   I don’t worry about updating most iOS applications whenever I notice that there are updates, but I have one (Classical Music Collection) that is 1.8GB.  When I see this needs updating I avoid it and wait until I happen to be up at an “off-peak” time to do the update.  I haven’t found a neat way to automate this updating to happen over night.  Updating applications requires input of one’s AppleID and there is no AppleScript call to do the update, unlike refreshing podcasts so a similar solution isn’t obvious.

One Response to “Downloading Podcasts at “off-peak” times”

  1. Stephen Says:

    Note that I’ve added another item which is relevant to this post, particularly if you have multiple Macs and use MobileMe.

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