Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video Finding and subscribing to podcasts, part of iTunes 9 Essential Training.
Now let's talk about podcasts. You've probably heard the term before and it's definitely come up a few times in these movies already, but so far we haven't really discussed what a podcast is. The most basic and easily understood explanation of a podcast is that it's an audio file very much like a radio show that you can download from the Internet and play on your computer or a portable music device like an iPod. Podcast can also be video files and more and more podcast these days are, and you can also download them and play them on your computers or iPods. The word itself is a combination of the word broadcast and iPod, but both of the words are a bit misleading, because you don't need an iPod or any portable music player to listen to a podcast, and the podcast itself is not broadcasted in any way.
In order to listen to a podcast you have to download the file to your computer. But in strict definition, a podcast is not just a file that can be downloaded. A true podcast allows users to subscribe to a feed of the program, so that anytime a new episode of the program is made available, it automatically gets downloaded to the subscriber's computer, which is the real advantage of subscribing to a podcast. You, the listener or viewer, don't have to worry about remembering to check a website or anything like that to find out when the latest episode of a program you like has been released. All you need is some podcast playing software like iTunes that you can use to subscribe to a podcast feed, and each time a new episode of the show is released, it will automatically be downloaded to your computer.
And it doesn't cost you a cent in most cases. Very few podcast cost money. Most of them you are going to find for free. Now, iTunes really only acts as the gateway for podcasters to help their audience find them. The podcasts are not produced or hosted by Apple. Apple just lists the podcasts that have been submitted for listing. iTunes is not the only way to find podcast to listen to, but it is most likely the most popular way. You can find podcasts to listen to and watch from, from websites like Podcast Alley, or the Tech Podcast Network just to name two of them. But you really just cannot beat iTunes for its huge directory and for the ease of finding podcasts to listen to here.
So iTunes is not the only piece of software or method out there for finding and subscribing to podcasts, in my opinion it's easiest to use. Rather than going to a website, searching for a podcast, copying its feed address, and pasting it into a podcasting program, you can instead do everything right here from inside iTunes. You can even sample a minute or so of a particular show or listen to an entire episode in iTune if you don't want to bother downloading or subscribing to it, something you can't do on most podcast directory websites. So to check out podcast in iTunes, head over to the iTunes Store and then click on the Podcast link at the top.
So here we're on the main podcast page and you can see all the different podcasts that are currently being featured. And even all of these various audio and video podcasts you see here are just a small selection of all the podcasts that are available on iTunes. Now these sections all work like the sections you find on any other section of the music store. You can browse through the items here, click on any that interests you. Maybe I want to check out the NPR: Fresh Air Podcast. And here I can get a description of the podcast.
I can double-click any of these available episodes to listen to them. If I decide I like what I'm hearing, I can either click Get Episode to download a single episode, or I can click Subscribe to subscribe to the entire podcast. Remember subscribing to a podcast is the key to having new episodes automatically download to your computer when they become available. So you don't have to remember to visit the store to download them yourself each time. So I will click Subscribe. It says, are you sure you want to subscribe? I will say Subscribe. Now, the Download section has opened up under the Store.
I can see the podcast is coming. And now I have the Podcast area available under my Library. I am just going to go in to List View, so you can see what we're looking at here, and there it is. I can toggle that open. So here in the Podcast section of my Library, I can see all the podcasts I've subscribed to. In this case just the one. iTunes downloads the most current episode of the podcast you've just subscribed to, so you can see it's currently available here. And you can see the other available earlier episodes listed beneath. If I want to get any of these episodes I just click Get. If I want to read about them first, I can click the Info button to see some more information about the episode to see if I want to grab it.
But from this point on, all new episodes of this podcast will download automatically to my copy of iTunes and a number will appear next to the Podcast Library indicating how many new podcasts I have waiting for me. Now you can adjust your podcast settings by clicking Settings. The default here is it's going to check for new episode every day, and you can see the next time it's going to check is tomorrow at 4:19 PM, basically 24-hours from now. I can have it check every hour if I am subscribed to a podcast that comes out multiple times a day, or I can just have a check every week, or I can set it to Manually, so that I will have to click each time to check for a newer podcast.
I will leave Every day selected. Right now these are the settings for the NPR Podcast that I just subscribed to. Any other podcast I subscribe to would be listed in this menu as well, or I can choose Podcast Defaults to make these menus available, so that when new episodes are available, I can choose to download the most recent one, download all or do nothing. Episodes to keep. I can keep all episodes, all unplayed episodes, most recent, last 2, 3, 4, all the way up to the last 10 episodes. I am just going to leave all the defaults here and click OK. If at anytime I decide I am no longer interested in this podcast, I can select it and click Unsubscribe and you can see only the ones that I've actually downloaded now appears in my list.
Also to make sure that your hard-drive isn't filling up with podcasts you haven't watched, iTunes will stop downloading new episodes if you haven't watched any recent downloads after a few weeks. But you can always reselect the podcast and choose Subscribe to re-subscribe to the podcast. So that's how you can find and subscribe to podcasts from iTunes in the iTunes Store. Now that said, you can also subscribe to podcasts that might not be listed in the iTunes Store. As an example, I am going to go over to lynda.com and we have a weekly video podcast, which we do have listed on iTunes, but we also provide the RSS feed for people who prefer to use other podcast playing software.
But just to show you how you would go about subscribing to a podcast without using the iTunes store, down here I am going to click RSS. So this is the actual web address of our podcast feed. The feed is the document that contains all the necessary information to locate and download our podcast episodes. So I am going to select that address, copy it, go ahead and close my browser. And then back in iTunes to subscribe to that podcast, I am going to choose Advanced > Subscribe to Podcast, and then here I can paste in the web address of that feed.
So if you come across a podcast on a website where they offer the address of their feed, you can copy that and paste it right here into iTunes, click OK, and you can see now I'm subscribed to the lynda.com Video Training Podcast. Toggle that open. We have quite a few episodes available, but again, it's only going to download the most recent one and there it is. Once again I have the same Setting options I can choose from, so now I can choose to set my settings for this podcast, or for my NPR podcast. And that's how we subscribe to any podcast using iTunes.
- Creating playlists, Smart playlists, and nested playlists
- Expanding a library across multiple hard drives
- Activating and using the Genius feature
- Setting up Home Sharing
- Understanding and utilizing the parental controls