How to Download and Subscribe to Podcasts on iPhone

How to Download and Subscribe to Podcasts on iPhone

Podcast concept on smartphone screen in jeans pocket

 CarmenMurillo / Getty Images

A world of hilarious, fascinating, thought-provoking, silly, and free audio programs is available in the iTunes Store and on the iPhone. These programs, called podcasts, offer an endless library of quality listening. All you need is to learn how to get and use them.

What Is a Podcast?

A podcast is an audio program, similar to a radio show, posted to the internet to download and listen to using iTunes or an iOS device. Podcasts vary in their level of professional production. Some podcasts are downloadable versions of professional radio programs like NPR's Fresh Air, while others are produced by one or two people, like Karina Longworth's You Must Remember This. Anyone with audio recording and editing tools can make and distribute a show.

Podcasts cover almost every subject people are passionate about, including sports, comic books, literature, relationships, current events, and movies. Most are free to download and listen to. Some offer paid versions that include bonus features.

Marc Maron's WTF, for example, offers the 60 most recent episodes for free. To access the other 800+ episodes in the archive and listen without ads, listeners pay a small, yearly subscription. Dan Savage's Savage Love is always free, but an annual subscription gives access to episodes that are twice as long and without ads. If you find a podcast you love, you may be able to support it and get bonuses too.

Find and Download Podcasts in iTunes

The largest podcast directory in the world is in the iTunes Store. To find and download podcasts:

These instructions apply to iTunes 9 and later and devices running iOS 8 and newer.

  1. Open the iTunes program on a desktop or laptop computer.

  2. Click Store if you aren't already there.

    How to find podcasts in iTunes scfreenshot
  3. Go to the drop-down menu in the upper-left corner, and then select Podcasts.

    How to find podcasts dropdown screenshot
  4. Go to the Search box to search for shows by name or topic. Or, browse the recommendations on the front page, or click All Categories to filter by topic.

    How to subscribe to podcasts in iTunes screenshot
  5. Select the podcast that interests you. The podcast page displays information about it and a list of available episodes.

  6. To stream an episode, hover over the title, then click the Play button that appears.

  7. To download a podcast, click Get.

    How to download podcasts on iTunes schreenshot
  8. Episodes you download appear in your iTunes Library.

How to Subscribe to Podcasts in iTunes

If you want to get every new episode of a podcast when it comes out, subscribe to it using iTunes or an app on your iPhone. With a subscription, iTunes or your iPhone downloads new episodes as they release. Subscribe by following these steps:

  1. On the podcast page, click Subscribe.

    How to subscribe to podcasts in iTunes screenshot
  2. In the confirmation dialog box, click Subscribe to confirm the subscription.

    How to subscribe to podcasts screenshot
  3. Click Library, then click the podcast you just subscribed to.

    How to subscribe to podcasts in iTunes screenshot
  4. Click Settings to adjust the number of episodes to download, change the order in which iTunes plays episodes, and delete episodes you listened to.

    How to subscribe to podcasts screenshot
  5. Click Unsubscribe to stop downloading episodes as they come out. The ones you've downloaded stay on your computer.

How to Delete Podcasts in iTunes

You can keep episodes after you've listened to them, but you can delete the files.

  1. Go to the Library section of iTunes, and then click the episode you want to remove.

    How to download podcasts in iTunes screenshot
  2. Right-click the episode and select Delete From Library to completely remove the item or select Remove Download to take the episode data off of the computer but leave it in your Library so you can stream it later.

    Or, press the Delete key on the keyboard.

    How to delete podcasts in iTunes screenshot
  3. In the confirmation dialog box, click Delete to confirm.

Find and Download Podcasts in the Apple Podcasts App

If you get podcasts from iTunes, sync episodes to iPhone or iPod touch. Or, skip iTunes completely and get episodes delivered to your device. Apple includes a Podcasts app pre-installed with the iOS that does this.

To use the Apple Podcasts app to get podcasts:

  1. Open the Apple Podcasts app.

  2. Tap Browse to display lists of popular shows and creators.

  3. To find something specific, tap Search and enter a search term.

    Apple Podcasts app screenshot
  4. Tap a show you're interested in to see a list of available episodes.

  5. Tap an episode description to play it in the app.

  6. To download an episode, tap the + icon, and then tap the Download icon.

    On iPhone 6S and later, use 3D Touch to open the menu by pressing the display.

    Apple Podcasts app screenshot
  7. Go to the Library, then tap Episodes to see the ones you've chosen.

  8. Tap Sort to arrange episodes either alphabetically or by the date added.

    Apple Podcasts app screenshot
  9. Tap an episode to play it.

How to Subscribe and Unsubscribe to Podcasts in the Apple Podcasts App

To subscribe to a podcast in the Podcasts app and get new episodes as they become available:

  1. On a podcast page, tap Subscribe. An alert appears that confirms your subscription.

    Apple Podcasts app screenshot
  2. Go to the Library, tap the show, tap the three-dot icon, and then tap Settings to control when episodes are downloaded, how many to keep, and the order the app will play episodes. Tap Done to save the changes.

    Apple Podcasts app screenshot
  3. To unsubscribe, tap the podcast to view the detail page, tap the three-dot icon, and tap Unsubscribe.

    Apple Podcasts app screenshot
  4. Unsubscribing from a podcast keeps the episodes you've added to your library. It won't download new episodes.

How to Delete Podcasts in the Apple Podcasts App

To delete an episode in the Podcasts app:

  1. Go to the Library and find the episode you want to remove.

  2. Swipe left to right on the episode and tap Delete to remove the episode.

    Apple Podcasts app screenshot
  3. Alternatively, go to the podcast page in the podcast catalog or your library, tap the three-dot icon, then tap Delete from Library.

    Apple Podcasts app screenshot
  4. You don't have to unsubscribe before you delete a podcast from your library. When you delete a podcast, you are unsubscribed from it.

Great Third-Party Podcast Apps

While the Apple Podcasts app comes with every iOS device, there are third-party podcast apps available with other features that you may prefer. Here are some apps to check out: