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Get your sync on as Microsoft updates Windows Phone app for Desktop to Preview 3

Looks like Microsoft isn’t quite done for the today as they’ve just thrown the switch for the Windows Phone app for Desktop app (Preview 3). The app is used by folks on Windows 7 or Windows 8 (non-Surface) for managing media, including music, videos, playlists, ringtones and photos.

While a far cry from our beloved Zune Desktop client, Windows Phone app for Desktop at least makes it a bit easier to manage things on your device. We’re still not fans of the UI (or lack thereof) and although we can’t see our Xbox Videos, we suppose that’s a good thing since they still can’t sync over.

As far as a changelog, we’re hard pressed to find one on Microsoft’s site though we suspect some improvements with the device-detection logic has occurred making connection a tad faster. We really haven’t seen any newly added features but our interaction with this app on a daily basis is quite infrequent, which means we’ll turn it over to you in comments.

Users can simply download and install the new Preview 3 of Windows Phone app for Desktop on their Windows 7 or 8 machines and be good to go.

Personally, we're still waiting on a proper Zune-like client even though we're doubtful that will happen. (Tipping our 40 oz.)

Source: Microsoft; via Joe Belfiore

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Reader comments

Get your sync on as Microsoft updates Windows Phone app for Desktop to Preview 3

167 Comments

Yep. Still no way to sync play counts or song likes/dislikes.
 
I have to ask again does the ability to rate songs like/dislike on Windows Phone 8 actually do anything? As far as I can tell there are no sync apps that recognize whether you like or dislike a song. And the Desktop Sync App does not sync your Zune or Media Player ratings.
 
All I want is a way to sync how many times I've listened to a song and my rating for it. I'd be happy even if Xbox Music kept track of this in the cloud for me. I'm not even asking for something fancy like the ability to edit playlists on a phone.

Yea I'm still pissed ranking songs doesn't do anything that's how I got rid of crap on my wp7 and Zune easily now I either have to remember I don't like a song, which suck because I have 32gb Zunehd, Nokia 920 and 32 +64 GB surface which equals ass loads of music which is like to clean up with just songs I listen to and like

MediaMonkey is a pretty good desktop app for syncing music and video and it keeps all the id2/3 tags. It's a pretty good media server too. It's not free but the price is worth it to me

+1000 i have all my media on my Windows Home Server, i can't install Windows Phone app on my Home server. I am using WMP 12 to sync music from my server, which is a pain, at least the music player on the phone should have auto play list (Most Played, Top Rated).

i don'T get how anyone liked Zune. Zune sucked. And the current client sucks even more but at least looks promising. I don't get why MS is not including proper file-system browser into the client(s)...

As a former iphone owner id like to state that zune software was extremely easy to use... Itunes is like a constant test of my patients. So imo zune trumps itunes but i hear androids are really good for loading files onto i donno tho i never really got to play around with one long enough

See, I feel the opposite. I just found Zune not so much hard to use. Just way too busy in its design. I guess its a matter of what you are used to.

Umm.. LOVED IT. It still puts iTunes to shame. I am still able to run Zune on Win7 (Running as a virtual machine inside Parallels on a mac). When I get the Surface Pro, will I be forced to give up Zune?

I'm still using zune on my win8 laptop. In fact, i buy my music through that with my zune (xbox) pass, then just copy over to my phone what i want.

Am hoping xbox music gets a big overhaul soon, but zune still kinda works for me

I just installed Zune on Win 8 Pro with no issues - W8 even suggested the software for me to install (after I plugged my WP7 in).

Please tell me where Zune desktop software sucked?? And wtf are you comparing it too, surely not iTunes???
 

Check out @skipdeez Twitter feed - he worked on Zune and explains Xbox Music is a complete rewrite for Windows 8/RT. He also says it took time (8 versions) to get Zune to where it is now.
In my opinion that does not excuse MS from having a fully functional (feature parity) client that gives everything that Zune had. They had years to prepare it.
Can any software devs explain why Zune couldn't have been "converted" or otherwise ported to Xbox Music as it was?

Syncing music has been horrible for me and I can't do it.  Preview 3 has been out for a few days now and I couldn't sync my music still.  Any song I pull onto my phone from the Xbox Music on my comp ends up not being able to play the song on my phone because of the DRM.

On an SD card, WMP completely f+cks up your music, making duplicates of files, creating playlists with 0 songs (or minus 1!!) and making a general mess of everything. I'm glad that they keep updating the desktop app as it's the only one who worked so far (although it erases my playlists each and every time I reconnect my device with it, so I basically had to get it right the first time and never sync anything again. Starting to sourly regret getting the 8S that's for sure).

Does this solve the playlist problem? Microsoft make creating a playlist harder than landing a man on the moon.
That's not hyberbole, that's accurate. I bet there are less than 12 people on earth who can easily create playlists with wp8. Fewer than the amount of people whove walked on the moon

You can create playlists in programs like Zune and Media Player and sync them via this Sync program.

Typical, the download link refers to Beta 2 not Beta 3, sigh, this if how Charlie Brown felt about that football...

My 8X is not being detected after  the Preview 3 install. Checked for problems and I found that I needed to update my device driver. Tried troubleshooting it by auto-updating the driver it failed.
Cannot connect my 8X anymore to my PC.
 
It turns out, the MTP USB driver is the problem and Windows Update is not able to find the driver for it...
 
Update: Restarted phone and MTP USB installed properly. Looks like nothing has changed. Meh.

"Beloved Zune"? Are joking?
I for once am glad they got rid of that bloody thing with WP8 and I sure don't want it back! It was one of the reasons I actually bothered to spend another 600€ on a new Lumia with WP8: the fact that I no longer had to endure through the awful experience of sync things with Zune and can now just pulg the phone and open it like a normal pen.
And while I don't normally use my phone to listen to music (I have an mp3 player for that) I rather create the playlists on WMP.

But to each their own.

You don't use your phone for music and are criticizing the Zune software who's main purpose is to sync music to your phone?
 
The reason why everyone bemoans them not using Zune anymore is because they haven't come up with anything to replace it's functionality.
 
Zune had wireless syncing. You could keep your subscription music in sync easily just by plugging in the device. You could sync song ratings, play counts, and play lists.
 
 

In WP7 you had to use Zune for EVERYTHINGS. Music, pictures, videos, updates etc. I didn't use it for music, but I do use my phone for pictures and videos. And it was a true pain to have to sync everything through that bloody program. 

As far as music goes, I really don't see the drama. You can sync using WMP and with WP8 you can even sync with iTunes.
IF xbox music becomes a relevant service, then I could see Microsoft designing a software to match that, but quite honestly, if they went as far as allowing sync with iTunes, I think it's clear that they know the vast majority of people who buys digital music does it with iTunes and will continue to do so, even if they then use Windows Media Player for the rest.

The only thing it seems to be missing is the wireless syncing. I trully can't understand the drama of the lack of Zune. 

I won't install that bloatware on my machine.  iTunes is long in the teeth man.  Zune was okay, it wasn't great, but okay.  What was most important was that it did what it did perfectly.  I could trust that my images and videos were synced to my PC simply by plugging it.  Album art and song titles actually worked.  I have the correct ID3 tags on all my music but half of it is messed up on my Lumia because it doesn't use the same information.  Zune worked.

Note I didn't say it did not worked. I just said it was a pain and that I find the WP8 "drive-disc" solution way better. And that for sync WMP also works.
As for iTunes, well, I use it to get podcasts of radio shows that air at times I can't listen, but that's it. I seldom buy music there (but then again I don't buy digital music, I rather buy the CDs.) and I have all my library organized on WMP which already does a great job. Actually I never understood why Microsoft had created another media player when they already have the good old reliable WMP.

"I never understood why Microsoft had created another media player when they already have the good old reliable WMP."

That was always a mystery to me. It's almost like Microsoft hates their own Media Player.

MS used Zune as a shortcut to fill in for the missing winmo mobile sync (for) winphone 7. I know some missed some of mobile syncs functions such as outlook and calendars but Zune was primarily a Media player, podcast and Media organizer, and media syncing app and as that was the best I ever used imho. It was the inspiration for the Metro UI and its infuriating and inexplicable that they would get rid of it without anything replacing its functionality.

And you don't have maners. You parents did a terrible job. But then again, they probably didn't want you in the first place. Think about it.

I took Winamp out of the "garage" and dusted her off to find she works REALLY well with my Lumia 920. Takes a little bit of patience to set up but once it is, it's as seamless as Zune. Highly recommend. Also, Songbird works quite well. Daniel, why don't you and the editors do a write up on the different options WP8 users have to sync media? I think that would be extremely helpful to a lot of folks.

I wasn't fond of Zune for WP... it felt like it didn't fit right being added to the Zune Software, However Zune was a much nicer interface for acquiring and transferring media to the device than this new sync BETA. I hope that MS has something better planned than this for a sync client for Windows 7 users so far I'm not impressed.

I second an article giving a features comparison of software that will sync WP8. I am having an issue with having "rights" to listen to music from my old Zune pass on both wp8 and w8 Xbox music. I can play those tracks fine with Zune app and zuneHD. Ugh, music took a backseat with developing w8 and wp8.

+1 Why isn't MS refunding my money if they won't let me play the music and movies U bought from them. This is what Class Action Suits were created to address, so mark my words, they'll be in court soon if they don't fix thus.
Balmer, take a cue from your Pal Elop and give us our money back!

Does either Winamp or Songbird sync song ratings (likes/dislikes) you've made to the phone? How about play counts. Really missing this functionality and wireless syncing from Zune.

Honestly if Microsoft would just add these features to Xbox Music cloud syncing there wouldn't be too much to complain about (aside from the fact that Xbox Music doesn't let you add songs not in their catalog).

Yea I miss my play counts and badges I had tons of badges and pushing about 120,000 plays which I know is near at least 150,000 since wp8 released

Winamp indeed supports wireless sync over local network, but I haven't tried it out yet to find out if WP8 is a supported device. I believe it has to be set up as a network drive, but I'll check when I'm off work

Excellent idea. There is so many ways to do this and each one has its own pro's and cons. If we knew the best way to sync for our own requirements, this thread would be about 1 comment long... am I still talking?

That may occur if you have songs in the cloud as it will show both the cloud songs and those stored on the phone.

Ya I turned cloud off on the device. Just been nothing but a headache with this new software. Wish I could just use Zune software, guess I'll just have to do like everyone else and wait for a fix.

Happens to me and I don't have mine stored in the cloud. Pointless struggle anyway as it doesn't recognize the rights to the songs from MS anyhow. So far all I've used this software for us to delete sings to make room for all the "Other" storage that DOUBLED itself last night, while the phone was in airplane mode, to 6Gb and left the phone almost unusable with only 50 Mb free. Honestly memory management is as messed up, and the tools as absent or nearly useless as song/video management is.

Well I contacted customer service at Xbox about this issue, talked to them for about 6 hours and nothing was solved. They just sent me an email asking what's steps I did trying to sync music. I told them I have tried everything and further told them how almost everyone in this forum is disgusted with windows phone app and how it's "archaic and belongs on windows 95"

+1
Xbox Music is just broken. Not being able to do a proper "Sync" to make the two apps (W8 and WP8) is annoying. But the inability to add custom Podcast RSS Feeds is just silly. The only way around it I have found was to add them into Nokia Music so they are at least seperated from the rest of the music after dragging them onto the phone. But basically, I've resorted to keeping my Nokia 900 as a PMP so I can still use the Zune software for everything.
Xbox Music is my single largest complaint (and biggest let down) of the entire 8 line up. To go from a great client to one that barely gets the job done and is so poorly designed it is frustrating to use is really dissapointing. Hopefully they get it updated (though speed of updates is another area of disapointment). Xbox Music is alpha-grade software.

Boggles the mind why they threw Zune in the trash...it was one of MSFTs best pieces of work. With proper marketing Zune would have been legit...

Yes I miss Zune even though I still use as my day to day player on my comp and my zunehd but its the reason I went Microsoft I hated iTunes I unistalled it after my roommate moved out nothing but headaches, Zune was beautiful and with wireless syncing I wake up nearly every Tuesday with refreshed music on my phone and vice versa

Media Player sucks worse than iTunes. I dispise dealing with either of their convoluted crap interface. Zune was so easy and clean....

Yeah dumbest thing MS did was kill the Zune player!! They wanted something cleaner but their taking way to long to deliver!!!!!!;!!

I don't have a windows 8 computer I have windows Vista. I do however have a Nokia 822 running windows 8. Can I download this and use it to organize my phone from my computer

not sure if this is true. but with the 2nd version of the preview, I always thought that every time I chose to "sync all music", it would wipe my device, and resync everything, instead of just adding new songs.
but I just tried the same "sync all music" with this new version, and it was much quicker, didn't go through the process of going through the thousands of songs I have.
for some reason it did delete about a 100 songs, then synced them again with the newly added songs to my library since my last sync.
has anyone else noticed this?

just tried. it did not. but upon closing out of Preview 3, unplugging my device, reconnecting and then relaunching the software, it tried to sync about a thousand files, I just opted to cancel the sync. also, I have noticed that whenever I try to launch the program with my phone already connected, it crashes and locks up my laptop briefly

Interesting. I am finding that my Zune desktop is syncing everything each time I hook up my Titan, and doesn't find it automatically. Anxious to go home and top it off with WP7.8 tonight.
 
Question: Has anyone run into problems using WP7.8 with Zune? I take it the "Modern" "Metro" doesn't like 7.8.

Zune should've just been re-packaged... Here's hoping they fixed the duplicate track issue and the "we can't find the usage rights" issue for XMP.

I know I was online with Microsoft techs until 4am last week trying to sort out both of those issues. Everyone involved were scratching their heads. These issues have been very frustrating.

Repackaged yes!! Not sure the actual intent on MS part but they should created a Windows 8 Slice! Like made a new Zune addon for older desktops and built it into Windows 8!!! I just don't understand their prime directive!

Just by glancing at the photo I can tell it's still going to be worthless for me. Until I can actually create a playlist with local and Xbox Music DRM content and sync from ONE app, these attempts at 'making what it is today' work is a waste of their time if you ask me. I get more use out of buying my music and using Media Player than I would this 'app'.

Zune leaves a lot to be desired - and it's sad that the replacement is so much less than Zune.
 
It's like MSFT has taken a playbook page from Sony's PS3 launch, and decided to try to beat the record of how many ways they can sabotage their own success.
 

Maybe I've been a bit dense or inattentive, but I'd love a conversion tool included wit this app that would convert videos to a proper format.  Or is there some setting I forgot? 

There must be since there is an option in the settings to lower the quality of your videos in order to save space. But it might not be working properly as a lot of my vids are not able to play on my 8S. Also, is it just me or are .wav files not supported??

Stop using Xbox music to purchase music, cancel your music pass. Stop the cash flow then Microsoft will listen otherwise they wont care.

Zune was awesome only idiots couldn't understand way better than iTunes by 1000000 just a few seconds to set up how u wanted ur items organized and it was pretty much just drag and drop after that wether syncing, playlist or burning cds

This app reminds me of Windows 95!!! I can't believe they launched WP8 with this crap for non Surface users.

Luckily once I got all my music that's not on Zune pass I really have no need for it and I drag and drop if I do get something like a mix tape or a single not on Xbox music

Funny they just released this as I have been using it pretty successfully with iTunes up until just yesterday when app was locking up during sync. Installed new version and looks like they may have added some sync error trapping. I errored out again but got a different code, and was able to identify the song that was hanging me up. I removed it from the playlist and voila, sync completed with music and podcasts.

A lot of people are still running XP...(not me)
 
and Vista was not that bad after Sp1 and the driver mess was taken care of....

Vista is around 6 years old and XP is approaching end of life. Really you are screwing yourself by not upgrading. Windows 7 is the greatest general use operating that is really available. I'm a big fan of Windows 8 too, but I realize lots of people don't like it much so if you are hung up on XP... Windows 7 is the way to go.

I don't understand.. Why didn't Microsoft simply keep Zune as is and change the name? Why go with a different client? Does anyone know the reason?

I really hope someone at MS hauls the entire WP Team into a room with Balmer and then reads every last one of the posts here. Its the sound of your best Customers telling all of you that you have made a complete buttf#$k out of media on WP8. You owe most of us $ for media you sold us but now won't let us use. You are literally killing the platform. Can ANYONE honestly recommend WP8 to someone that likes to listen to their collection of music or watch their videos?
I can forgive a little "2 steps forward and one step back" with an updated OS, but I can't sit around much longer watching this "1 step forward two steps back" strategy erode the value I've paid for.

Who is working on quality at Microsoft? Seems they are writing code in there spare time. I'm patient but man. When does fabulous start?

Yeah, fuck this thing off. Although I could just keep everything in my iTunes and sync my 920 to that, I still looked at Zune before I bought a Windows Phone and Zune is the sexiest media player/manager I've ever seen. Can't believe that retired it instead of re-branding it to 'Xbox Media Player' or someting along those lines.

What's the difference between this desktop app and the Modern UI (previously Metro) app available in Windows Store for Windows 8? Does desktop app have any extra advantage over that?

I blame the dumbness of this app on those moaners who kept crying about how Zune was so restrictive and so closed. You wanted simple drag and drop, Microsoft slapped you with this. Thanks for screwing a perfect gorgeously working Zune :(

Does anybody know where the phone pulls it album information from? I have a couple of albums that are displayed right in Zune, in the windows media player and the id3-tags are correct as well but when I load those albums onto the phone, the albums are completely messed up and split up into multiple once(completely different album names). I really don't know what else to change... It was all fine with WP7

Music on WP8 is almost a deal breaker. Loading songs on the Nokia is torturous after using Zune. The shitstorm that is cretaed with the metadata is infuriating. The clud synching is nice, but I certainly don;t want to pay for songs I legally own. It is just clumsy and hamfisted. Why they couldn't port usability of Zune to 8, I'll never know. Or at least rebrand Zune as Xbox Music and go from there.

This sucks! WoW!  Zune was 10x better.  I try to remain positive, but MS, one step forward, two steps back. #smh =/

This syncing issue is going to be the thing that finally drives me away from WP and back to another platform when I tire of my 920.

Just embarrassing.

Sorry, but I just couldn't take Belfiore crowing over this horror. I had to send him this tweet:

@joebelfiore Are you kidding? This POS Sync CrapWare is exciting?! So is a heart attack, but all in all, I'd rather have Zune back! :-(

The Zune Desktop application is the worst thing ever made. I haven't changed the music in my phone in 2 months because of it. Is there software I can use to sync my music with my Lumia 800?

I used Zune to manage my Lumia 900 on win 7 thought it was quite good. Now I've moved on to a Lumia 920 on win 8 and the experience is not even close to what I had on the desktop before, its pitiful actually by comparison. I personally think there is a stigma, globally if you will, that Zune was bad, even the hardware was killed right? Therefore they probably want to abandon the name, but I have no idea why they couldn't bring all that work on the software development under a "rebranding campaign" and have an excellent media management app if that makes sense...

Just don't understand why there's no drag and drop if they're gonna release desktop version. At the moment I still prefer win8 app than this

Still on WP7 here.  I hate the Zune software, and the lack of filesystem-based music organization (and clunky Bluetooth connection procedure) means I hardly ever use my phone for music.  Getting pictures/videos on/off the phone is a pain as well.  If/when I eventually upgrade to WP8, no longer needing to use any "sync" software to transfer files will be a huge benefit for me.  Syncing sucks.  Tagging sucks.  Just let me organize things myself at the filesystem-level.  It's simpler, easier, faster, more reliable, and more flexible.

I guess knowing how to manage files puts me in the minority nowadays.  WTF.  This is not like writing assembly code.  I shouldn't be at the "get off my lawn" stage because I know how to manage files.  I fear that computing is well on its way to ruin thanks to the mindless iSheep.  Go buy an iPhone and leave Windows Phone to the dwindling few who choose to use their brains.

Do you seriously think the problem is that people don't know how to use the file manager?  Come on. 
 
The point is that adding and removing music to a device using the file manager requires manual drag and drop snd manual creation of folders. This is time consuming and tedious. We like Zune because it does that all automatically without me even having to plug in my device, it just happens. That is a winner. 
 
Sure there are issues with the metadata based sorting and grouping and managing the metadata is a little fussy, but that's less troublesome than having to plug my device into my PC every day and dragging crap into place. 

This Windows Phone 8 app is a joke. I cant believe Microsoft pushed an app like this for something they are spending billions in promoting. I figured they would at least make it pretty or something, just a bare white background ? Really ?
 
No settings, No configuations. It assumes you use Windows Library's for everything. For example, I move my pictures from my phone to a shared folder that is Not in My documents, I could do this with no issues with Zune. There is no way from the app to select a save location for stuff.
 
Can't believe Microsoft even released this for Windows Phone 8, at least they could put some effort in it. Put zune back, make it sync with Zune (or Xbox Music, what ever it's called now), give people the options that people want.
 
I love my WP8 device but, syncing it has been the worst excuse I have every seen for a phone promoted this much.

Another redundant POS (piece of software ^_^ ) from Microsoft. I've been saying from the beginning for desktop, they should have just gone with using WMP for all their devices, no clue why they even made Zune, it's a media player/organizer just like WMP could have been. I would have been happier if they just made Zune into WMP 13 with codec support instead of just having them side by side. Now they have Windows Phone software for syncing? Even more redundancy on their part, and another reason why their services are so poor. Microsoft just needs to build on what they have already like Apple has, look at how many version of OSX there are and how modern it is, compared to all these new editions of Windows (I know Vista through 8 are all based on the same kernel version, but the way they market them makes them all new.) Just make a new WMP Microsoft, instead of making all this crap, and make it compatible with WM 6.x, WP7 and WP8, and everyone would just be a happy camper.

I'm with you. They constantly were improving WMP during the Windows XP era and when Vista came out with the new version I thought "wow. They are getting this". Then it all stopped. I actually felt it regressed in Windows 7 and again in 8. There is 0 good in having all the different programs. Concentrate on one and make it great.

Why that app wasn't detecting my phone when connected? Does it only detect win phn 8 devices only???

the app only works windows phone 8 devices, for windows phone 7 devices the only way to transfer files is the zune software.

curious how can a hardware product be released and only a beta app is out there to transfer the music.   How is the official app still in beta when a product was released 2 months ago?  Blows my mind they killed zune without having the replacement ready.

I think if enough people made noise they'd rebuild the zune client or something similar.  It really was so very nice in managing files.  Oh well, this is better than nothing.

I really wish wpcwentral or someone else would cover this. I'm an early adopter and i'm also a young proffesional in the entertainment field.  My friends and I are the market ms and nokia want, the market they should want. True techies are a vanishingly small portion of the market. The majority of the market just wants something simple and visually clear. Ms went in a totally wrong directon with this and catered to a group of people who couldn't make a difference if they each bought 17 phones.
I convinced 4 friends to buy wp8 devices (specifically lumia 920) based on my fantastic experience with wp7. They have all now returned to Iphone.  Whe they told me how impossible the phone was to manage and how frustrating media management was i didnt believe them. I assumed they were screwing somwthing up and making mistakes.  Oh boy I was wrong.
Please cover this.  Ask your contacts at ms to explain this bizarre software decision.   This one issue will sink the whole platform I promise.  This is exponentially a bigger problem than apps. Amoungst my friends ms had 4 new customers and 2 upgraders counting myself. now they have 6 returns.  People are not interested in file access at all. They are not interested in using 6 different programs to sync music. Having to dig around the internet for some program somewhere that might get music on your phone with the correct album and song titles without wierd streaming dupes is not having options.  It's the reason why the majority of people will return these phones.
It's terribly sad because everything else is so great. Love the phone. But for the average consumer this one issue is that big a deal.

still no ability to sync a playlist from your phone to your pc. zune did this so easily, i don't know why it has been removed from the wp8 app... very frustrating

Marczilla29 on Jan 31st  did an exceptional job of describing how loyal customers are being turned off by low quality, irrelivant products in Xbox music and the downgrade, (let me rephrase that - NO replacement solution),  from Zune sync capabilities.    My expectations were so much higer when I "upgraded" from Win 7 to Win 8.   The dishonesty in xbox music advertising and in the capabilities of the Win  Phone App is a stain on the Microsoft brand.   I've just spent hours on another cycle with tech support to arrive at the same conclusion that I was at last year.  "The Win Phone App music syncronization does not work"",  with paying customers of xbox music pass.   It is NOT a viable option to suggest that a customer should re-download all of his albums, one at a time,  searching one at a time, waiting one at a time, from the xbox music marketplace.   I cannot overstate how extremely disappointed I am with this product.   Get the brainpower and resources to fix it.    Customers are out of patience.    

Hi, i recently tried to intall the windows phone app for desktop and it say it cannot download on server operating system,
 
im not sure what that means or if there's a way to fix it,  please help

Is there a way to mark a podcast episode as played, so that the sync "all unplayed episodes" option in the podcast section works?