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How to Listen to Podcasts: Best Free and Paid Options 2024

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How do I start listening to podcasts

Learn how to listen to podcasts with this simple guide. It helps you pick topics, choose a device, and select a streaming platform, making your entry into the podcast world easy and enjoyable.

How Do I Start Listening To Podcasts

How to Listen To Podcasts

As with everything these days, the easiest way to tune into podcasts is to use a dedicated podcast app.

Podcasts have become one of the most popular ways to consume content, which means that there are a lot of podcast apps to choose from, so you’re coming into this at the right time if you want to be spoiled for choice.

The biggest names in podcast apps include the Apple Podcasts app —suited to iPhone users—and the Play Music app—for Android phone users.

Steps to Sart Listening to Podcasts For Free

  • 📲 Install a podcast app on your device.
  • 🔍 Search and subscribe to podcasts of interest.
  • ⬇️ Download episodes for offline listening.
  • 🎧 Play episodes and explore app features.
  • 🔄 Regularly update and discover new podcasts.

My Personal Tips

  • Selecting the right App is the Key
  • Subscribe to your favorite shows
  • Create a playlists for each use case e.g Daily commute, Gym, News, Education

📱How to listen to podcasts on iPhone?

Complete guide:

  1. 🔍 Use the Apple Podcasts App: Open the pre-installed Apple Podcasts app.
  2. 📚 Browse or Search: Find podcasts by browsing categories or using the search function.
  3. ✅ Subscribe to a Podcast: Tap on a podcast to see its episodes, then tap “Subscribe” to follow it.
  4. ⬇️ Download Episodes: Download individual episodes for offline listening.
  5. ▶️ Play an Episode: Select an episode and press play to start listening.
  6. 🗃️ Manage Library: Organize your subscribed podcasts and downloaded episodes in the ‘Library’ section.

📱 How to Listen to Podcasts on Android?

  1. 🔽 Install a Podcast App: Download a podcast app from the Google Play Store, like Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Pocket Casts.
  2. 🔍 Browse or Search for Podcasts: Find podcasts by browsing categories or using the search function in the app.
  3. ✅ Subscribe to Podcasts: Tap on a podcast to see its episodes, then press “Subscribe” to follow it.
  4. ⬇️ Download Episodes for Offline Listening: Download individual episodes for listening without internet.
  5. ▶️ Play Episodes: Select an episode and press play to start listening.
  6. 🗃️ Manage Your Library: Organize your subscriptions and downloads in the app’s library section.

🎧 How to Listen to Podcasts for Free?

  1. 📲 Choose a Free Podcast App: Install a free podcast app like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher.
  2. 🔍 Search for Podcasts: Use the app to find podcasts by browsing categories or searching by name.
  3. ✅ Subscribe to Favorite Podcasts: Subscribe to podcasts you like for easy access and updates on new episodes.
  4. ⬇️ Download Episodes: Download episodes to listen offline without using data.
  5. ▶️ Play and Enjoy: Play any episode to start listening. Most podcasts are free to stream and download.

🖥️ How to Listen to Podcasts on a Computer (Mac and PC)

  1. 🍏 For Mac Users – Apple Podcasts: Open Apple Podcasts, pre-installed on Mac.
  2. 🖥️ For PC Users – Web Browser: Open a web browser and go to the Google Podcasts website.
  3. 🔍 Search for Podcasts: Use Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts to find shows by name or topic.
  4. ▶️ Play Podcasts: Click on an episode to play it directly in Apple Podcasts or on the Google Podcasts site.
  5. 📥 Download for Offline Listening: Download episodes for offline playback in both Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

🚗 How to Listen to Podcasts on SiriusXM in Your Car

  1. ✅ Ensure SiriusXM Compatibility: Confirm that your car’s audio system is SiriusXM compatible and that you have an active subscription.
  2. 📡 Access SiriusXM: Turn on your car’s audio system and access the SiriusXM interface.
  3. 🔍 Navigate to Podcasts: Use the SiriusXM controls to find the podcasts section.
  4. 🔎 Browse or Search for Podcasts: Explore available podcasts or search for specific shows.
  5. ▶️ Select and Play: Choose a podcast and an episode, then start playing it through your car’s audio system.
  6. 🎚️ Control Playback: Use your car’s controls for play, pause, skip, or replay episodes.

Further Guides:

Choosing the Right Podcast App

When I select a podcast app, I focus on its features and compatibility with my device. Whether I use an iOS or Android phone, or even another platform, there’s an app tailored to my podcast listening needs.

🏆 Top Picks: Best Podcasting Listening Apps

iOS Podcast Apps

Apple Podcasts is my go-to on iOS devices. It comes pre-installed and offers seamless integration with the Apple ecosystem. The search and subscription functions are straightforward, and categorization helps me find new podcasts of interest.

  • Overcast: Known for its custom playlists and voice boost feature. It also provides a smart speed option that shortens silences.
  • Pocket Casts: Stands out with its cross-platform synchronization and a clean interface. It offers variable playback speeds and volume boost, making listening a breeze.

Android Podcast Apps

On an Android phone, Google Podcasts is a solid choice. It is free and syncs with my Google account. It’s easy to use and has a minimalistic design.

  • Pocket Casts: Also available on Android, featuring the same advantages as on iOS.
  • Podcast Addict: With its advanced search and management features, it is versatile for managing a large number of subscriptions.

Podcast Apps for Other Platforms

For listening on my computer or platforms other than iOS and Android, I have several options:

  • Spotify: Not just for music, Spotify also offers a broad range of podcasts, including several exclusives like the number 1 podcast in the World, the Joe Rogan Experience.
  • Castbox: This app has offerings on multiple platforms beyond smartphones. It provides a wide selection of podcasts with easy-to-navigate categories.

Which Podcast to Listen To?

Which Podcast to Listen To?

Now that you know where you’ll listen, you need to think about what to listen to. Although the good thing about podcasts these days is that there’s an endless choice of topics to be talked about, it can also make it harder to narrow them down to something that you like.

The best place to start is with the bigger and more popular podcasts, as these tend to have perfected the formula and usually have an engaging host and cover interesting content.

Otherwise, if you already know what type of content you’re looking for in a podcast, whether it’s model airplanes, the latest celebrity gossip, or something hosted by your favorite comedian, you can do a search online or in the podcast app to find new podcasts.

ALSO SEE: Best Podcasts Of The Year

When you find podcasts you’re interested in, reading reviews and recommendations should give you a good idea of what to expect, and asking friends and family with similar tastes in content can lead you toward some great finds.

Once you’ve narrowed down your interests, the algorithms that work behind the podcast streaming platform that you listen to will help point you toward other similar shows.

This is how most people find new content that otherwise might have been harder to discover, so be prepared to give it some time while you amass a list of favorite podcasts (also see, ‘Top Podcasts‘).

How to Find and Subscribe to Podcasts

Do You Need to Subscribe?

In my experience, discovering and keeping up with podcasts is simple once you know where to look and how to use subscription tools. I’ll guide you through the search and discovery process, as well as how to subscribe to your favorite shows.

Search and Discover

I begin by exploring the built-in search functions on podcast platforms such as iTunes or Spotify. Here, I can enter specific terms like “true crime podcast” or “politics” to find content tailored to my interests. To broaden my search, I often browse the suggested podcasts section, which offers recommendations based on trending topics in news, sports, comedy, culture, and entertainment.

  • Use search terms related to your interests: true crime, politics, sports
  • Browse categories: News, Comedy Podcasts, Politics, Culture, Entertainment
  • Check out charts for popular shows

Additionally, most apps provide categories and charts that list popular shows, allowing me to unearth podcasts that are currently hitting the mark with a wide audience.

Subscribing to Podcasts

Once I discover a podcast that piques my interest, I use the subscribe feature to follow it. For example, when using Apple Podcasts, I simply click on the ‘Subscribe’ button on the podcast’s page to receive automatic updates. Subscribing ensures I never miss an episode and can stay current with the shows I love.

  • iTunes/Apple Podcasts: Click ‘Subscribe’ on the podcast’s page
  • Spotify: Tap ‘Follow’ for automatic updates

Subscriptions can also unlock exclusive content or ad-free listening, adding more value to my podcast listening experience. With my subscriptions in place, my feed stays organized, and I have quick access to new episodes as they are released.

Podcasts have become an incredibly wonderful source of free content, with most series costing nothing to enjoy.

For most, the only fee they pay is to the streaming app of their choice, and if you’re on one of their basic plans and don’t mind listening to ads between your music and podcasts, you won’t have to pay a thing here either.

Subscription podcasts are less common, but they’re still around and are a great way to offer unique content to people who are happy to pay for the privilege.

There might be bonus episodes or content within a regular podcast series that’s subscription only, or entire podcast series that charge a set fee to get access to.

For the podcast host, this isn’t the only way for them to earn an income, and most do well with other means, like sponsorship and advertising.

ALSO SEE: Best Podcast Promotion Services

However, if there’s special content or latest episodes that are worth paying for, you might want to consider becoming a subscriber and paying to see what’s on offer.

Listening to Podcasts Across Devices cross-platform

I find versatility is key to enjoying podcasts, as I like to transition from one device to another without losing my place. Whether on mobile, a smart speaker or in the car, podcasts have adapted to fit conveniently into daily life.

Mobile Listening

On my iPhone, I ensure that the Sync Library is turned on in the Settings > Podcasts, so my playback position syncs across all my Apple devices using the same Apple ID. For my Android device, apps like Spotify and Google Podcasts automatically sync my listening progress.

  • Streaming Services: Spotify, Google Podcasts
  • Devices: iPhone, Android
  • Key Features: Sync playback across devices, free and premium tiers

Your Questions Answered: Is it Possible to Listen to Podcasts Without Wi-Fi?

Smart Speakers and Home Devices

Saying “Alexa, play my podcasts,” to my Amazon Echo activates playback via TuneIn Radio or other integrated services. With a Google Home, I can use voice commands to stream through Google Podcasts. Both devices provide seamless transition from personal listening using Bluetooth headphones to filling the room with the latest episodes.

  • Compatible Devices: Amazon Echo, Google Home
  • Activation Command: “Hey Google, play my podcast,” or “Alexa, play my podcast.”

In-Car Listening

When I’m driving, I connect my mobile device via Bluetooth to my car’s audio system. Some cars come with built-in apps like TuneIn Radio, which lets me stream or listen to radio podcasts. Otherwise, I stream directly from my phone, using the same apps as I do for personal listening.

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, Built-in apps
  • Apps: TuneIn Radio, Spotify, Google Podcasts
  • Listening Methods: Stream podcasts, Radio podcasts

Using these methods, I can smoothly transition from personal to public listening, making my podcast experience diverse and uninterrupted.

The Right Headphones

The Right Headphones
  1. Podcasts are popular because they can be enjoyed anywhere, including during commutes, house cleaning, or dog walking.
  2. A good pair of headphones is essential for listening to podcasts outside the home.
  3. Quality noise-canceling headphones improve audio clarity and detail.
  4. For home listening, consider an affordable Bluetooth or smart speaker.
  5. Speakers enhance clarity and volume compared to smartphone or tablet playback.

For those planning on listening at home, you might want to invest in an affordable Bluetooth or smart speaker.

While you can play a podcast directly from your smartphone or tablet, it’ll be a lot clearer and have a higher volume when it comes from a speaker, and considering how cheap they are these days, it’d be a wise investment. 

Managing Podcasts and Episodes

When are New Episodes Released?

Managing my podcast listening efficiently involves organizing my library, downloading episodes for offline access, and creating playlists that reflect my listening preferences.

Organizing Your Library

My first step is always to create a systematic library, allowing quick and easy access to my favorite podcasts and their episodes. I take advantage of podcast apps that offer features to sort and categorize shows. Here’s a simple breakdown:

  • By Show: Grouping episodes under their respective shows
  • By Genre: Assigning each podcast to a genre for thematic organization
  • By Status: Sorting episodes by new, in-progress, or played

Ensuring my library reflects this structure helps me minimize the time spent looking for what I want to listen to next and maximizes my enjoyment.

Download for Offline Listening

Downloading podcasts is a feature I can’t do without, especially when I know I’ll be out of Wi-Fi range or want to conserve mobile data. Here’s how I handle my downloads:

  • Setup Automatic Downloads: I enable this for my favorite shows, so new episodes are downloaded as soon as they’re available.
  • Storage Management: I monitor my device’s storage space and remove played episodes to ensure it doesn’t run out of room.

Curating Playlists

Playlists are a free and effective way to manage my daily listening flow. I create playlists that:

  • Fit my mood: Whether I’m looking for inspiration or entertainment, I have a playlist ready.
  • Match the length of my activity: Whether I’m doing a quick grocery run or a long commute, I have playlists of varying durations to suit.

Through playlist curation, I maintain a balanced and personalized podcast experience that aligns with my daily routines and changing interests.

Once you get hooked on a podcast or have even become a podcast addict, you might find yourself yearning for a new episode to be released, and this waiting can make them even more enjoyable when they finally come out.

The schedule that most podcasts are released on will depend on the series, its contents, and the creator, and there’s no set structure for when they should be published.

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The most common time for a new podcast episode to be released is once a week but this can vary drastically for each series.

A podcast might air a new episode each day, just in a smaller format, or have a long-form episode that’s content-rich and released just once a month.  

You can usually find this in the series information listed with the show on the streaming service to get an idea of the podcast schedule you listen to.

Sometimes, a podcast creator will have other series that you can tune into as well, so while you’re waiting for a certain episode to drop, there is loads of other great content of theirs that you can enjoy.

Watching vs Listening to Podcasts

Watching vs Listening to Podcasts

Podcasts, traditionally audio-only, now often come in video format, popular on platforms like YouTube, Spotify and Vimeo.

Content creators also stream video podcasts on social media and Twitch. These podcasts vary in style, from showing the recording process to presenting visuals related to the topic or using a static logo image with audio.

📺 Which Podcasts have Video on Spotify?

While video podcasts offer a new experience, they have downsides: they’re less convenient for multitasking, require larger downloads, and not all episodes may be available in video format.

A Podcast for Everyone

The great thing about podcasts is that they cover a huge range of topics, so there’s something to suit every listener, no matter their interests.

Using this guide, you’ll be able to find a podcast that’s right up your alley and finally experience what everyone’s been raving about for years. 


Rose Evans

Helping podcasters grow their podcast has been my passion for the past 6 years, being part of the Wired Clip team means I can do this on a much larger scale.

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