How to Fix It When the Apple Podcasts App Won't Play a Podcast

First, check your volume and your headphones

This article will explain how to fix it when the Apple Podcasts app won't play a podcast.

Reasons the Apple Podcasts App Won’t Play

When a podcast in the Apple Podcasts app won't play you'll find it's often caused by a problem downloading the podcast or syncing with other devices. The Podcasts app should download and sync podcasts automatically, but this can be interrupted or unavailable for a variety of reasons. These include a spotty Internet connection or a problem with the servers hosting the podcast.

The podcast might also fail to play because of a software bug or configuration issue in the Podcasts app. This is less common and can be difficult to troubleshoot, as the Apple Podcasts app doesn't offer many error messages.

Fortunately, the methods for resolving this problem are similar no matter the cause.

How to Fix the Apple Podcasts App

The Apple Podcasts app is available for the iPhone, iPad, and the Mac. The following steps are applicable to all, though the specifics of each fix might vary between them.

  1. Check the volume on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Ensure the volume is loud enough and not muted.

    This obvious solution is always worth checking, as it will fix the issue in a moment.

  2. Restart the Apple Podcasts app. When multitasking on an iPhone or iPad, you can close an app by swiping up. Mac users can close the app by right-clicking on its icon in the dock and selecting Quit. Try playing the podcast again once you reopen the app.

  3. Make sure the correct audio output is selected. An iPhone, iPad, or Mac is supposed to automatically send audio to any connected external output, but perhaps it didn't work.

    On an iPhone or iPad, the audio output can be selected by tapping the Apple AirPlay icon while a podcast is playing. This will show available audio sources with a checkbox next to the one currently in use.

    On Mac, the audio output is changed by selecting the speaker icon in the upper right-hand corner of the macOS menu bar.

    Also, if the volume of the external device is turned down, you won't hear anything so check that as well.

  4. Delete the podcast from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, then re-download the podcast. Sometimes files get corrupted when being downloaded rendering them, in this case, unplayable. Deleting and re-downloading the podcast will give you a new copy of the file to try.

    Mac users can delete podcasts in the Downloaded section of the Podcast app. Hover the cursor over a show's icon to reveal the ... menu. Select it and then tap Remove Downloads.

  5. Check that your Wi-Fi or cellular data connection is strong. An Internet Speed Test is the quickest method.

    A bad Internet connection will make it difficult to play any podcast not already downloaded to the Apple Podcast library. Move to a location with a better connection if possible.

  6. If Low Data Mode is turned on, turn it off. Low Data Mode intentionally restricts data use, which can cause an issue when trying to download and play a podcast.

  7. Turn off Wi-Fi or cellular data temporarily. At times, a bad data connection can cause problems even when playing podcasts downloaded to your device. Turning off data entirely might resolve the issue. You can turn data back on if the podcast begins to play.

  8. Restart your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. This may clear a persistent bug or connection issue, providing a fresh start for your device.

  9. Unfollow and then Follow a podcast.

    Unfollow deletes a podcast from your library entirely, including all episodes. This resets all active downloads for that podcast.

  10. Check your available storage in iOS or macOS and free up storage if only a few gigabytes are left.

    The Apple Podcasts app will attempt to download new podcasts to your device, which may fail if there's not enough storage space available.

  11. Reset the Sync Library feature in Apple Podcasts. On iOS devices, you will find this in the Settings app under General, then Podcasts. Tap the Sync Library setting to turn it off, then again to turn it back on. Mac should open the Podcasts app, select Podcasts in the menu bar, then select Preferences. Sync settings are found under Advanced.

    This can resolve any persistent sync issues causing an error in the app.

  12. Uninstall and then reinstall the Apple Podcasts app. It's easy to uninstall an app on the iPhone and iPad. It's also pretty easy to uninstall apps on a Mac.

    The app can be reinstalled from the App Store.

  • Why is the Apple Podcasts app so slow?

    If you have problems or delays downloading shows from the Podcasts app, make sure you have a strong internet connection. You should also close any apps that might be using a lot of bandwidth, like music or video streaming.

  • Why does the Apple Podcasts app use so much battery?

    If you stream all of your episodes from the app, you may use more battery because of the constant need for an internet connection. Try downloading podcasts to save energy.

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