Whether you want to get work done or surf the web, you may want to listen to a podcast or two while using your Mac. There are many smartphone podcast apps out there, but if you want to listen to it on a Mac, your options are far more limited – especially if you want this app to sync playback to your phone.
We've rounded up the most popular Mac podcast apps below. They each have their own setbacks. So be sure to read through each of the setbacks to find the best Mac podcast app for you.
1. Apple Podcasts
Apple Podcasts are used by most Mac owners, but they are not for everyone. This is especially true if you are also listening to podcasts on an Android device, as you cannot sync Apple Podcasts with Android or Windows.
Apple released this podcast app when iTunes – where podcasts used to be available – was split up with the release of macOS Catalina. Now Apple Podcasts are available by default on every Mac.
Apple Podcasts are available completely free of charge. The biggest downside is that they are only available on Apple devices.
Find new podcasts in the Discover or Browse sections, or visit Next to see suggestions from your library. You can view your library by Show, Episode, or Downloaded to easily find what you're looking for.
You can also use Apple Podcasts to create playlists of podcasts so you can create your own stations.
Add individual episodes to your library with the Add button, or subscribe to a show to get it all at once. You can then change the playback order and choose which episodes to download.
Control playback at the top of the screen and add episodes to a playback queue in the upper right corner. It is possible to change the playback speed, but you have to use the menu bar to do this, which is not particularly convenient.
Playback isn't perfectly synced between different Apple devices, but you can use Handoff for better results.
While Apple separated Podcasts from its music streaming app, Spotify combined the two. Almost every podcast can be streamed alongside music in Spotify on macOS.
Spotify is available for free on every platform: macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS. You can even use the Spotify web player to listen through a browser.
When you listen to Spotify for free, you need to run ads between episodes. But Spotify Premium subscribers still have to listen to ads that are woven into the podcast episodes themselves.
Find new podcasts on the Spotify Home or Browse tab. You can view the most popular podcasts on the platform or get recommendations based on your listening habits.
The only way to add podcasts to your library is to follow this show. This will add each episode to your library. This isn't ideal if you just want a few of these.
You can choose to play a podcast from oldest to newest or vice versa. However, this is the only organizing option you get, and there is no way to download episodes on a Mac.
To switch playback between devices, just open Spotify and click the speaker button in the lower right corner. Click a playback source to switch playback from that device to your Mac and pick up right where you left off.
Jump forward or backward while listening and change the playback speed using the controls at the bottom of the screen.
You can also add episodes to a playback queue at the bottom of the screen. Be warned: this queue also contains songs, so it can get a little confusing.
Download: Spotify (Free Premium Subscription Available)
3. Pocket casts
Pocket Casts offers a clean design and impressive playback tools. Every important podcast is available in Pocket Casts, and playback is seamlessly synced between a variety of devices.
Pocket Casts is available as a multiplatform app on MacOS, iOS, Android, Windows and as a web player in every browser.
While you can listen to Pocket Casts for free on a smartphone, you need to sign in to Pocket Casts Plus to get access to the desktop Mac app.
With this premium subscription, you can also control playback from an Apple Watch and choose different themes and app icons. You can even upload personal audio files for private streaming.
If you are still not sure, Pocket Casts is offering a 14-day free trial.
Click Podcasts to see all of the shows in your library, and then click a show to see each episode. Sort episodes by date, title, or even length, and archive episodes you've already heard to hide from your library.
Unfortunately, you can't archive multiple episodes at once, which can be time consuming. There's also no way to add individual episodes if you don't want to subscribe to an entire show.
Click the Explore tab to find popular podcasts to listen to or get recommendations when you finish an episode.
You can use the playback controls at the bottom of the window to skip forward or backward and adjust the playback speed. You can even adjust the jump times for each podcast in the settings.
Click the playback queue to view and manage next steps, or click the small arrow to open a mini-playback window and easily access these controls.
Download: Pocket Casts (Free Trial, Premium Subscription Required)
Overcast is one of the most popular iPhone podcast apps, but unfortunately it doesn't have an official app for the Mac. However, there are still a few ways you can listen to Overcast on your Mac.
The Overcast app is only available for iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. However, if you create a free Overcast account, you will be able to view and stream your podcast library through the Overcast web player.
There is also an unofficial open source Mac app called PodcastMenu (linked below). This will add the Overcast web player to your Mac's menu bar.
Both the web player and the open source app offer the same functions.
Using Overcast on a Mac isn't a great experience. Your library is divided into podcasts and episodes, each displayed as a long list. The only way to add a new podcast to your library is to search for it. There is no page to discover or search.
It is possible to add individual episodes to your library, but you will need to open the show notes for each episode to do so.
Finally, there are no sorting options so you can only view podcasts from newest to oldest.
To control playback, you'll need to open the show notes for an episode. Overcast allows you to jump forward or backward and change the playback speed. However, you cannot create a playback queue or download episodes.
You cannot exit the episode you are listening to without pausing playback.
At least that playback will be synced seamlessly with other devices. But that's about the only good thing about Overcast on a Mac.
Download: PodcastMenu (free)
Downcast is possibly the most talked about podcast app for Mac alongside Apple Podcasts. It has a ton of features that let you organize your library into playlists, subscribe via a URL, and even enable automatic downloads.
Downcast is a premium Mac app with a sister app for iOS or iPadOS. You have to pay for the mobile app separately and there is no Android or Windows app, neither of which is great.
There is also no free trial. If you want to try Downcast, you have to pay for it.
Use the Add button in the sidebar to search for podcasts or view the top podcast in each category. Then subscribe to add a podcast to your library.
When you subscribe to a podcast, Downcast automatically downloads the latest episode. You can then view your local episodes or watch each episode on the podcast feed.
Again, there is no way to add individual episodes to your library without subscribing to a podcast, although you can be selective with your downloads.
With Downcast you can save different local sorting and playback settings for each podcast.
Use the buttons at the top of the screen to control playback. Downcast offers two buttons to skip forward and backward with different lengths. You can also control the playback speed and enable continuous playback, which will automatically select a new episode for you to listen to next.
Unfortunately, you cannot create your own playback queue. However, you can create playlists of similar podcasts to listen to.
Download: Downed ($ 4.99)
Do you prefer an online podcast player instead?
We've rounded up the best podcast apps for Mac, but as you've seen, there aren't many options. If none of the above apps suit your needs then you should look into web players instead, most of which are completely free.
6 Free Online Podcast Players You Can Use In Any Browser
Sometimes you want to listen to podcasts on your desktop. Here are the best podcast players that you can play on any browser.
About the author
(159 articles published)
Dan writes tutorials and troubleshooting guides to help people get the most out of their technology. Before becoming a writer, he earned a BSc in audio technology, oversaw repairs at an Apple store, and even taught English in China.
More from Dan Helyer
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