Tips for Podcast Fans

Discovering Podcasts

Find a free podcast.

The iTunes Store puts hundreds of thousands of free podcasts at your fingertips. To find them, select iTunes Store on the far right of the iTunes navigation bar, then select Podcasts from the same navigation bar.

Search podcasts by popularity.

To find podcasts that appeal to your interests, browse the Podcasts page to see featured podcasts selected by our iTunes editors. Or use the iTunes search field in the upper-right corner to find topic-specific podcasts.

For more editorial selections, check out our iTunes favourites on the iTunes Essentials: Podcasts page.

See what tops the podcast charts.

Take a look at the right side of the Podcasts page on the iTunes Store. iTunes displays the Top Episodes and Top Podcasts based on a combination of recent subscriptions, downloads and customer reviews. Click the header at the top of each chart to see the top 200 podcasts or episodes. You can filter the charts to view only audio or video by clicking the Audio or Video button located at the top of the Podcasts page, below the navigation bar. And to see the most popular podcasts by subject, simply navigate to the desired category from the Podcasts pop-up menu. Continue to dig deeper by clicking subcategories located in the bottom-right corner of most category pages.

Find more from your favourites.

If you find a podcast you like, it’s easy to find more from the same podcast creator. Just move the pointer over the creator’s name, and if the creator has more than one podcast, you’ll find a link that leads to a page containing all of them.

Playing Podcasts

Listen up.

iTunes provides you with several options for enjoying your podcasts. Stream an episode directly from the iTunes Store just by clicking it. Or download it to your iTunes library. When you find a podcast you really like, you can subscribe to it by clicking the Subscribe button. New episodes download automatically, so they’re right there waiting for you when you’re ready to enjoy them.

Listen at your own pace.

If you prefer to hear spoken audio content at a faster playback rate, it’s easy to speed things up on your iPad, iPhone or iPod. While listening to an audio podcast in the Podcasts app, use the speed indicator to adjust your playback speed.

Watch the way you want.

When you stream a video podcast on your computer, playback starts in a pop-up window within the iTunes Store. Clicking anywhere in the store outside the pop-up window stops playback. To view a video podcast that you downloaded, select Podcasts from the Library pop-up menu and click the podcast. A list of downloaded episodes appears, and you can double-click a title to begin watching. To watch the podcast full screen, just click the Full Screen button at the bottom of the player.

Read the fine print.

In addition to video and audio podcasts, iTunes also features text-based podcasts. You can open these PDF or ePub files on your computer, or use the Apple iBooks app on your iPod touch, iPhone or iPad.

Save it for later.

If you can’t finish a podcast in one sitting, just press Pause in iTunes or on your iPod, iPhone, iPad or Apple TV. When you’re ready to resume, press Play. With iCloud, you can start listening on one device and finish on another.

Fixing errors.

When iTunes encounters a problem downloading a podcast episode, it displays an exclamation mark icon to the left of the episode title. Generally, such errors are related to the feed set up by the podcaster. In many cases, the episode will be available again in about a day.

Play it again (and again).

When an episode finishes downloading, a number appears next to the podcast title. This number indicates how many episodes you haven’t yet played. Click the podcast title to reveal the list of episodes. Those you haven’t played are marked with a blue dot. As you play an episode, the blue dot turns into a half circle, indicating partial playback of the episode. When you’re finished, the blue dot disappears completely.

Enhance your spoken word experience.

iTunes allows you to change the EQ settings for playback. If you listen to a lot of podcasts, the “Spoken Word” EQ setting may enhance the sound quality for you. This EQ setting reduces bass frequencies — especially handy for amateur podcasts, where mic pops and other noise might otherwise distract.

Managing Podcast Subscriptions

Make playlists.

When a podcast finishes playing, iTunes doesn’t play the next podcast episode by default. To keep a steady stream of episodes playing, create a podcast playlist. Or create a Smart Playlist that includes podcasts based on artist, genre, episode length and more. For example, you might create a Smart Playlist for news podcast episodes longer than 40 minutes.

To build an all-podcast Smart Playlist, choose New > Smart Playlist from the File menu. To include only podcast episodes you haven’t listened to, choose “Plays” from the first pop-up menu, choose “is” from the second, and enter 0. Add more filters to further refine your Smart Playlist.

Create your own station.

The Podcasts app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch lets you create a personalised station of your favourite podcasts in My Stations. New episodes download automatically. You can choose whether the app begins playing the newest or oldest unplayed episode. And since iCloud stores your personalised stations, you’re always up to date on all your devices.

Keep a few. Or keep them all.

After playing a few podcasts, you might find that there are some you’d like to save. Or maybe you want to save all of them. Either way, iTunes makes it easy. While you’re browsing the podcasts you’ve downloaded, a gear icon appears to the right of the podcast title. Click it, and iTunes opens your Podcast Settings window. Use the “Episodes to keep” menu to decide how many episodes you want to keep in your library.

Not in the store? Not a problem.

If you come across a podcast on the Internet that you can’t find in the iTunes Store, you can still subscribe to it. From the File menu, choose Subscribe to Podcast and enter the podcast feed URL. iTunes subscribes you to the podcast and begins downloading immediately.

Hold on to your hits.

If you like the auto-remove feature for most podcasts but want to keep all the episodes of a particular podcast, you’re in luck. Select a podcast (at either the episode or podcast level), Control-click or right-click the title, and choose Do Not Auto Delete. iTunes holds on to the podcast’s episodes until you manually delete them.

Expand or collapse.

Once you subscribe to a podcast, iTunes checks for new episodes at regular intervals. But over time, the list of available episodes can get long. To hide or reveal all available episodes, click the display triangle for the podcast. You can also hide or reveal all your podcasts at once by holding down the Command key and clicking one of the display triangles.

What’s the frequency?

You can check for episodes once a week, once a day or even once an hour. Just go to Podcast Settings by clicking the gear to the right of a podcast title at the top of your podcast download page. Then change the rate at which iTunes checks for new episodes.

Time to unsubscribe.

Podcasts are like audio or video magazines. Once you subscribe, you can expect a new episode of that podcast at a regular interval. But if you find you have more than you can handle, it’s easy to unsubscribe. Just select the podcast and click the Unsubscribe button to the right of the podcast title. To unsubscribe and delete all files related to the podcast, simply press the Delete key after selecting a podcast.

If five new episodes come and go without you listening, iTunes pauses your subscription to the podcast. It won’t automatically download new episodes until you’ve had time to catch up by playing at least one.

Sharing Podcasts

Links to share.

When you find a podcast you like, you may want to share it with others. And iTunes makes sharing easy. You can send an email with the link directly through iTunes by clicking the triangle to the right of the Subscribe button and selecting Tell a Friend (requires an iTunes account). Or select Copy Link and paste the link into a chat, blog or website. To share links for individual podcast episodes, just click the triangle to the right of the Free button for that episode.

You can also share your favourite podcasts via Facebook and Twitter. Simply follow the process above, then select Share on Facebook or Share on Twitter.

If you already subscribe to a podcast you want to share, drag it from your podcast’s source to your desktop. That creates a .pcast file that you can email to friends as an attachment. If they have iTunes, clicking the .pcast file automatically subscribes them to the podcast, and iTunes immediately begins to download the most recent episode.

Share your whole playlist.

You can export a list all of your subscriptions, either as a personal archive for yourself or to share with others. This option comes in handy when you’d like to introduce someone you know to podcasting because it allows you to send a file of “starter podcasts” for your newbie friend to subscribe to — all at once.

To export a list of your subscriptions, first turn on the iTunes Sidebar by choosing Show Sidebar from the View menu. Then right-click or Control-click Podcasts in your library and select Export. Choose OPML as the format. (OPML is a generally recognised format for sets of subscriptions.) Name the file and save it wherever you want. At any time, you can re-import the file and iTunes will subscribe you to all the podcasts inside. Or email it as an attachment to your uninitiated pals.

To subscribe to the podcasts in an OPML file, choose Add to Library from the File menu and choose the OPML file. iTunes begins downloading immediately.