How to Listen to Podcasts

Businesswoman listening to earbuds and working in home office
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What are Podcasts?

Podcasts are similar to radio programs. Their formats can be talk shows, call-in sports shows, audiobooks, poetry, music DJs, news, sightseeing tours, and much more. Podcasts are different from radio in that a podcast is a series of audio or video files you get on the Internet.

You can subscribe to podcasts, just like a magazine. In the same way as a magazine arrives in your mailbox when a new edition comes out, a podcast uses software on your computer called a podcatcher to automatically download new shows whenever they become available.

If you hook up a portable media player to your computer, like an iPod , your podcast software will automatically load your new shows into it. That way, you don't have to keep checking the podcast's website to see if there are new shows, and you always have the freshest shows on your iPod or other device.

Tuning In with iTunes


One of the easiest ways to get started with podcasts is by using iTunes. If you don't have iTunes (v.4.9 or later), you can download it for free here. Once you have iTunes open, go to the iTunes store, and click on the “podcasts” menu option on the left. This will take you to iTunes podcasts home page, where you can search for podcasts by category, genre, top shows, and provider. You can listen to an episode in iTunes by clicking on a show, and then clicking on an episode. If you want to download a single episode, just click “get episode,” and you're done!

If you want to subscribe to all future episodes of a show, click the “subscribe” button in the top center part of the show's page.

iTunes downloads these shows as MP3 files, and when the download is finished, you're ready to listen to your podcasts or sync them to your portable media device.

Using Other Podcatchers

If you don't want to use iTunes, there are several other options for searching, downloading, and listening to podcasts:

Using Directories to Find Podcasts

Directories are basically searchable lists of Podcasts of every type. They are great places to search for new podcasts that may interest you.

Where are my Podcasts Stored?

Downloaded podcasts are stored on your computer's hard drive. If you save lots of back episodes of your podcasts, you can quickly use up several gigs of hard drive space. You may want to delete old episodes that you finished with; Many podcatchers let you do this from within their software interfaces.

Another approach is to save your podcasts to the hard drive in your computer with the most empty space. In iTunes, you can open up Edit > Preferences > Advanced, and change the iTunes Music Folder location. To unsubscribe from a podcast, just select the podcast and click the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of iTunes' interface.