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Finding and Downloading Podcasts from the iTunes Store

Podcasting hit the mainstream in 2005 when Apple released version 4.9 of its iTunes software, which added podcast capability to the iPod. Now you can browse for and subscribe to podcasts directly from iTunes, and then easily sync them to your iPod.

All current iPods and iPod nanos have a Podcasts item on the main menu. This lets you dial up all your stored podcasts, and then play them back in any order, just as you can with music tracks.

Browsing the iTunes Podcast Directory

The easiest way to find podcasts is to use the Podcast Directory in the iTunes Store. Unlike everything else in the iTunes Store, all podcasts are free to download.

To access the Podcast Directory, click iTunes Store in the Source pane of the iTunes software, and then click the Podcasts link. As you can see in Figure 8.1, you can browse or search through the available podcasts, download the ones you like, and subscribe to the ones you want to hear again. Most of the podcasts here are relatively professional, including programs from ABC News, ESPN, and podcast guru Adam Curry.

Figure 8.1

Figure 8.1 Browsing the iTunes Podcast Directory.

When browsing for podcasts (which is probably the best way to get started), you can browse by the following The:

  • New Releases. Today's newest podcasts
  • What's Hot. The most buzzworthy podcasts on iTunes
  • Staff Favorites. Some of the favorite podcasts from the iTunes staff
  • Top Podcasts. iTunes' 30 most popular podcasts
  • Categories. Arts, Business, Comedy, Games & Hobbies, Government & Organizations, Health, Kids & Family, Music, News & Politics, Religion & Spirituality, Science & Medicine, Society & Culture, Sports & Recreation, Technology, and TV & Film
  • Featured Providers. ABC News, American Public Media, BBC, BusinesssWeek, CBC Radio, CBS News, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery Networks, ESPN, G4, HBO, Indiefeed.com Community, KCRW, Mondo Mini Shows, MTV News, National Geographic, NBC News, The New York Times, NPR, PBS, PRI, Revision3, TPN The Podcast Network, TWiT TV, The Wall Street Journal, VH1, and WNYC
  • Video Podcasts. Links to video (not audio) podcasts, which we discuss in the "Watching Video Podcasts" section, later in this chapter

In addition, the center portion of the Podcasts page offers quick links to special categories. For example, a recent page had two special sections, one for Macworld Expo coverage and the other for Iraq War coverage.

Of course, you can also search for podcasts as you can search for any item on iTunes. Use either the search box at the upper-right corner of the iTunes window or click the Power Search link (in the Quick Links box) for more advanced searching by podcast title or author.

Downloading and Subscribing to Podcasts

When you find a podcast you like, you can easily download it to your computer, and then transfer it to your iPod. Each podcast "series" has its own page, like the one shown in Figure 8.2. To download a specific episode, just click the Get Episode link. Podcast downloads work just like music downloads, except without the charge to your credit card. (All podcast downloads are free, remember.)

Figure 8.2

Figure 8.2 Viewing information about a podcast series—and individual episodes.

When you find a podcast series that you like, you can have iTunes automatically download all new podcast episodes. Just go to the podcast page and click the Subscribe button. When you subscribe to a podcast, iTunes automatically checks for updates and downloads new episodes to your computer. (By default, iTunes checks for podcast updates once each day.)

To access all the podcasts you've downloaded, click Podcasts in the Library section of the iTunes Source pane. (If there's a number next to the Podcasts item, that indicates how many new podcasts are available for you to listen to.)

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Last Update: November 17, 2020