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How to Listen to Podcasts For Free on Any Device - 101 Guide

Learn how to listen to podcasts on Apple Podcasts, Spotify & more! Our guide covers all steps you need to start listening to podcasts for free.
Kendall Breitman
Social Media & Community Expert
Last Updated:
March 28, 2022
Reviewed by
Ortal Hadad

Podcasts are booming in popularity, with over 80 million Americans tuning in to their favorite shows every week. 

Episodes are available on a range of devices and platforms. While the big listening platforms at the moment are Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube, many more are out there. So what’s the best way to listen to a podcast? 

Here's everything you need to know to start listening to podcasts, no matter what device you own.

How do I find and listen to podcasts?

Before you can listen to a podcast, you'll need to know where to find the best shows and episodes. Different podcast providers, like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify, have different search systems. However, most apps and websites allow you to use a search bar to find podcasts you might be interested in.

If you already know the name of the podcast you're looking for, type this in to bring up immediate results. If you're still browsing to find the perfect podcast, try typing in a few keyword variations that relate to your interests. This will yield a range of search results that include your key terms in their titles.

How can I listen to podcasts for free?

Depending on your device and the podcast you're searching for, it may be possible for you to access new podcast episodes for free! Some devices have in-built podcast apps that allow you to download episodes or listen online without paying a dime. On other devices, you may be able to access free podcast apps or websites.

How do you start listening to podcasts?

To start listening to podcasts, all you need is a good device and access to a podcast download or streaming service. The system you choose will vary based on the technology you're using and the podcast you want to listen to.

Read below to find out which podcast service is right for you. Follow the steps to get started on listening to some exciting podcasts!

How to listen to podcasts on a Mac

Listening to podcasts on a Mac is easy! Mac is compatible with a range of podcast apps with both download and streaming capabilities.

The default podcast app on Mac devices is Apple Podcasts. This app is a replacement for iTunes and features a very similar design. It has the largest market share of podcasts, as well as free audio stories. You can even sync across multiple devices to listen both at home and on the go.

Step one: Open the Apple Podcasts app on your Apple device. (You can find it in your Launchpad if it’s not on your homescreen already.)

Step two: Browse popular shows, or select the search bar on the left of your screen to browse categories and find new shows.

Browsing what podcast to listen to on Apple Podcasts on a Mac device.

If you’re looking for a specific podcast type its name in the search bar. You can also type a few keywords based on what you’re looking for.

Select Top Charts if you’d like to listen to something ranking.

The menu bar to find podcasts to listen to on Apple Podcasts on a Mac device.

Step three: Click on the cover image for your chosen podcast.

Step four: Click the Latest Episode button to play the newest episode, or scroll down the page to choose an older installment. 

The Play button to listen to the latest episode of a podcast on Apple Podcasts on a Mac device.

Once you’ve chosen an episode, select the Play icon left side of the episode title.

Choosing an older podcast to listen to on Apple Podcasts on a Mac device.

Step Five: Click on the Follow button under the podcast title and description if you’d like to be notified when new episodes are released.

How to listen to podcasts on an iPhone or iPad

On an iPhone or iPad, there are plenty of ways to access podcast content! Choosing a podcast app is the best way to find a good selection of new podcasts that you can carry with you everywhere.

While there are plenty of apps to choose from on an iPhone or iPad, Apple Podcasts is a built-in app and is one of the most popular choices. It allows you to access over 63 million podcasts episodes.

Step one: Open Apple Podcasts on your device.

Step two: Browse popular shows or categories, or use the search bar to find a specific show.

Searching for a podcast to listen to on an iPhone.

Step three: Click on the podcast you'd like to listen to.

Step four: To play an episode, simply press play.

Listening to a podcast on an iPhone.

How to listen to podcasts on an Android phone or tablet

If you're an Android user, don't worry. There are still plenty of ways to access podcast content on an Android smartphone or tablet. Options include Spotify and Google podcasts. 

One of the most popular podcast apps on Android phones and tablets is Google Podcast, which is available for download from the Play Store. This app has a great podcast library, making it easy to access the podcast episode you're looking for.

Step one: Download and open the Google Podcast app.

Step two: Select the topics or categories you're interested in from the options at the top, under the search bar.

Choosing a category to listen to a podcast from Google Podcasts' mobile app..

Step three: Browse recommendations, or find a podcast with the searchbar.

Step four: Choose the podcast you want to listen to, and click play to begin.

Selecting a podcast to listen to on Google Podcasts' mobile app.

How to listen to podcasts on your computer

If you often listen to content at home or at work, you might prefer to access your favorite podcasts on your computer. There are many great computer-based software systems that offer podcasts for download or streaming.

One of the most popular options is Google Podcasts, which offers an expansive listening library to keep you up to date with all the latest episodes.

Step one: Open Google Podcasts from your browser on your computer.

Step two: Browse for a podcast in the Explore Shows tab or use the search bar above to find something more specific.

How to choose a podcast to listen to on a computer via Google Podcasts.

Step three: Click on the podcast you want to listen to and then press the Play icon on the episode you have selected. 

The Play button to listen to a podcast on Google Podcasts on a desktop.

Step four: Click Subscribe to get notified of new episodes of your favorite shows.

Subscribing to a podcast to listen to on Google Podcasts on a desktop.

How to listen to podcasts on Alexa or a smart speaker

When you're busy, listening to podcasts on Alexa, Google Home, or another smart speaker system is a great way to save time.

All you need to start listening is stable connection to a podcast service on another compatible device. This could be a smartphone, or it might be your computer, laptop, or tablet.

Step one: Connect your smart speaker system to your device and your default podcast app or service.

Step two: Choose the podcast you want to hear.

Step three: Ask your speaker to play your podcast, specifically calling out its title.

Step four: Start listening!

How to listen to podcasts on Spotify

Across all kinds of devices, Spotify is a great option for podcast listening, with millions of available episodes for you to choose from. On Spotify, you'll find much more than just music. You can stream podcasts produced by creators all over the world!

Spotify music and podcast libraries are updated regularly, which makes it easy to access new content as it becomes available. If you have an active Spotify subscription, you can listen to a podcast on the go, no matter where you are.

Step one: Download and open the Spotify app on your phone, tablet, or desktop.

Step two: Browse Spotify’s selection of Episodes for you or tap the Search button to find something specific. This Search button is on the left side menu on a desktop and on the bottom menu from a phone.

The Search button to find podcasts to listen to on Spotify from a desktop.

Step three: In the search tab, select  Podcasts, then choose a category and start browsing for a podcast to listen to.

You can also directly type the name of a podcast on the search bar above.

Selecting a category of podcasts to listen to on Spotify.

Step four: Select a podcast cover to see all of its episodes and details. 

Step five: Choose an episode and press the Play button to start listening. Note that some of Spotify’s podcasts are now also videos.

Listening to a podcast on Spotify.

Step six: To keep up to date with a podcast’s new releases, press the Follow button which is just above all the episodes of a podcast. 

The Best Podcast Listening Platforms

While Apple, Spotify, and now YouTube are your leading listening platforms, it's possible you may want to try something different. Watch the video to learn more about podcast listening platforms.

How Do I Subscribe to a Podcast?

By subscribing to a podcast you love, you can make sure that you never miss a new episode! This is also an easy way to save the podcasts you enjoy for later listening.

Subscribing methods will vary depending on what podcast listening app or service you're using, but the basic principles are the same. When you subscribe to a podcast, you'll receive a notification to your phone or computer whenever new episodes become available.

Step one: Navigate to your podcast app.

Step two: Choose the podcast you want to subscribe to.

Step three: Tap on your chosen podcast, and look for the Subscribe button, usually towards the top of the page. Sometimes this will also be a Follow button

Step four: Click the subscribe or follow button, and set your notification settings to determine how you'll be notified of new content.

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How to find interesting podcasts to listen to

There are many ways to find interesting podcasts to listen to, no matter what listening system you use. The best place to start listening to podcasts is usually on your app's browse or explore page. Here, you'll find trending content by popular podcasters. You can also search specific categories in this way.

If you're looking for something more specific, a simple search can help. Navigate to the search bar of your listening app, and type in a few keywords that relate to the kind of content you're interested in. This will generate relevant podcast episodes and shows.

If you're still not sure what you'd like to hear, don't be afraid to ask your friends for recommendations. Everyone loves talking about their favorite podcast! You could also check out too podcast charts or even visit a podcast blog or website to find out about recent podcasts people are enjoying.

Check out our list of the best podcasts to get you started! 

How to watch a podcast

Sometimes, listening to a podcast isn't enough. While podcasting is an audio-based entertainment style, many podcasters also film video content to accompany their episodes.

Some podcast app services allow you to access video alongside audio content. In many cases, these start as soon as you start playing a podcast episode. For example, Spotify has recently introduced video podcasts that you can watch on their platform. Creators should take advantage of this because video podcasting is a great way to engage and reach out to more audiences. For a seamless process, we recommend using Riverside which is now Spotify's official video podcast partner. Learn more, or start video podcasting the easy way!

When video content is not readily available, you can often access it on video-based platforms, like YouTube. Look up your favorite podcasters to find out whether they also host video channels. Most podcasts include this information on the episode details page.

How to download or stream podcasts

On many app services, it is possible to automatically download or stream a podcast episode with just the click of a button. The process for this will vary depending on the app you're using, so it's best to follow service-specific instructions.

In most cases, in order to download automatically, you'll need access to a stable internet connection. Downloading a podcast ahead of time means that you can listen to content offline later.

To stream podcasts, most major services require either internet connection or an active subscription. If you listen to podcasts on the go often, subscribing can be a valuable investment, giving you access to plenty of episodes whenever and wherever you want them.

Start listening to podcasts

Whether you've just started listening to podcasts or have been a longtime podcast lover, there are so many amazing options to help you stay connected with your favorite creators. Find available episodes that strike your interest, and remember to tell all your friends about the podcasts you love.

If you feel inspired by the podcasting greats, you might like to consider podcasting as a new hobby. Visit to access studio-quality audio tools that can help you achieve your podcast goals. 

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