Subscribing to a podcast makes life so much easier – your device will be automatically updated with new episodes and old ones will be removed after you have listened to them. No work required!
To get started in doing this, you need a piece of software called a Podcatcher. Example Podcatchers are iTunes or Juice, but are quite a few different options. A lot of modern music and media packages, such as WinAmp, now include podcatching functionality, so it’s likely that you already have something that will do the job. Best of all, there are plenty of low-cost and no-cost options, so you shouldn’t have to spend a penny to get subscribing.
Subscribing to a Podcast in iTunes
I’m going to talk about iTunes here, because it’s the most popular podcatcher, and it works so well with Apple devices in organising your Podcasts. It’s also one of the most powerful Podcatchers simply thanks to it’s Podcast directory. You just have to go to the iTunes store, and type in the subject you’re looking for into the search box. In this example, I’ll be searching for a Web Design podcast to keep up to date with news in the web development world.
The subscribing process is as follows:
- Browse through to the Podcast section of the iTunes store, and type ‘web design into the search area.
- iTunes will then show us all of the podcasts that have the phrase ‘web design’ in the description or title.
- I look through the list and a ‘cast called The Boagworld Show catches my eye.
- ITunes lists all of the episodes of The Boagworld Show so that I can make sure it’s of interest.
- If it looks good, I click the subscribe button and then that podcast is added to my subscribed list.
- I decide to add a few more, so look again at the search and click subscribe on ‘Think Vitamin’ and ‘The Sitepoint Podcast’.
- Now, once I click the Podcast section of my own iTunes library, I’ll see all three of those podcasts in the list.
Once these podcasts are in the list, iTunes will then check regularly for new episodes – you can set how regularly it will make these checks. The best thing about this automation is that when I plug in my iPod or iPhone, iTunes will synchronise with this device, copying over all new episodes and deleting old, listened to episodes. Next time you’re out and about, your iPod will contain only new episodes and you can happily listen away!
So, that’s how to subscribe using iTunes, but the process is quite similar with other podcatchers. Many lack the directory of iTunes though and so you might need to subscribe to a podcast manually. Let’s have a look at that now.
Subscribing to a Podcast Manually
Subscribing to a podcast manually requires you to track down that podcast’s website firstly. You need to find the address of the podcast feed – a page that contains all the details of the podcast’s past episodes. Don’t worry though, you don’t need to know how a feed works, you just need to find it’s web address, which is quite easy.
Most Podcast websites will have a ‘Subscribe’ icon somewhere on the front page, which will take you to the Podcast feed page, or try to subscribe you automatically. Often it’s denoted by an orange icon, as shown to the right. Try finding a subscribe link, or this icon and clicking it. You might then see a whole bunch of code, called XML. Again, don’t worry about this – all you need is the address of the page, which you can copy from the address bar. It’ll look something like this:
Select that address and Copy it, for transfer into your Podcatcher. All podcatchers should have a prominent option to ‘Add a Podcast.’ Once you select that option, it’ll ask you for the web address, or URL.
Simply paste the previously copied web address into this field, and select ‘Add’. That podcast should then be added to your ‘subscribed’ list and you can then sync your podcasts to your MP3 player, all ready to listen.