How to Listen to Podcasts on iPhone and Mac

Download and subscribe to podcasts on your favorite Apple device

Ready to enjoy the fascinating, free world of podcasts on your iPhone or Mac? Well, not only are most podcasts free, but your Apple devices come pre-loaded with easy ways to download and enjoy podcasts. Here's how to dive into this nearly endless library of quality listening.

The instructions in this article apply to iOS 13 and other recent versions of the iOS, Apple Podcasts on macOS Catalina (10.15), and to iTunes 9 and up on macOS Mojave (10.14) and earlier.

Podcast concept on smartphone screen in jeans pocket
 CarmenMurillo / Getty Images 

Want to get an in-depth look at the basics of podcasts, including how podcasts work and what makes them different from talk radio? Check out What is a Podcast?

How to Find and Download Podcasts on Mac (macOS 10.15 and Up)

Apple's podcast directory is the largest in the world. On macOS 10.15 (Catalina) and up, you access that directory using the dedicated Apple Podcasts app that comes pre-installed on your Mac. To find and download podcasts using Apple Podcasts, follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Apple Podcasts app.

  2. Search for a podcast by name or topic using the Search box in the top right corner. You can also browse the featured selections on the main screen or select Categories or Top Charts.

    Screenshot of the main screen of the Apple Podcasts app on Mac
  3. When you've found a podcast you're interested in, click it to go to the series page.

    • On this page you can stream episodes by hovering over them and clicking the play button.
    • To download an episode, click the + icon next to the episode.
    • To subscribe to the series, click +Subscribe.
    Screenshot of the podcast series page from Apple Podcasts on Mac
  4. To delete an episode you've downloaded, click ... next to the episode and then click Remove Download (to free up storage space but leave an entry for the episode, so you can stream it later) or Delete from Library (to remove the download and the entry). Depending on which you pick, click Delete from Library.

    Screenshot of removing a podcast in Apple Podcasts on Mac
  5. To unsubscribe from the series, click ... at the top of the screen and then click Unsubscribe.

    Screenshot of unsubscribing from podcasts in Apple Podcast on Mac

How to Find and Download Podcasts on Mac (macOS 10.14 and Earlier)

On macOS Mojave (10.14), podcasts are found, downloaded, and listened to using iTunes, rather than Apple Podcasts (it doesn't exist for this version of the macOS). Here's what you need to do:

  1. Open iTunes on your computer.

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

    How to find podcasts in iTunes scfreenshot
  3. Click the drop-down menu in the upper-left corner and click Podcasts.

    How to find podcasts dropdown screenshot
  4. You can search for a podcast by name or topic by using the Search box in the top right corner. You can also browse the recommendations on the front page or click All Categories to filter by topic.

    How to subscribe to podcasts in iTunes screenshot
  5. Click on the podcast that interests you. The podcast's series page displays information about it and lists available episodes.

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

  7. To download a single podcast episode, click Get.

    How to download podcasts on iTunes schreenshot
  8. Episodes you download appear in your iTunes Library and can be played there.

How to Subscribe to Podcasts on Mac (macOS 10.14 and Earlier)

If you want to get every new episode of a podcast when it comes out, you can subscribe to it in iTunes. With this free subscription, iTunes downloads new episodes as they're released so you never miss out. Subscribe by following these steps:

  1. On the podcast series page, click Subscribe.

    How to subscribe to podcasts in iTunes screenshot
  2. In the confirmation box that pops up, click Subscribe.

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

    How to subscribe to podcasts in iTunes screenshot
  4. Click Settings at the bottom to control your preferences for this podcast. You can choose the number of episodes you want to download at one time to save storage space, change the order in which iTunes plays episodes, and automatically delete episodes you've listened to.

    How to subscribe to podcasts screenshot
  5. To stop downloading episodes as they come out, click Unsubscribe. The episodes you've already downloaded will stay on your computer.

How to Delete Podcasts on Mac (macOS 10.14 and Earlier)

After you listened to a podcast, you may want to delete the episode to free up storage space on your computer. Here's what to do:

  1. Go to the Library section of iTunes, then single 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 removed the downloaded file from the computer. This option leaves an entry for the episode in your Library so you can stream it later.

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

Want to get podcasts from iTunes using your Android phone? We've got the instructions in How to Listen to iTunes Podcasts on Android.

How to Find and Download Podcasts on iPhone (Using the Apple Podcasts App)

Apple's Podcasts app also comes pre-installed with the iOS on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. To use the Apple Podcasts app to get podcasts, follow these steps:

  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, then tap the Download icon.

    On iPhone 6S and later, open the menu by long-pressing the screen.

    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 on iPhone (Using the Apple Podcasts App)

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

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

    Apple Podcasts app screenshot
  2. Go to the Library, tap the show, tap the ... icon, then tap Settings to control when episodes are downloaded, how many you keep at one time, 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 ..., then 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, though.

How to Delete Podcasts from iPhone (Using the Apple Podcasts App)

To delete a podcast episode in the Apple Podcasts app:

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

  2. Swipe right to left 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 ..., then tap Delete from Library.

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

Great Third-Party Podcast Apps for iPhone

While the Apple Podcasts app comes with every iOS device, there are third-party podcast apps available with other features that you may prefer. Three apps worth checking out are Castro (paid), Downcast (paid) and Overcast (free with in-app purchases).