While podcasting has existed in one form or another since the early 2000s, in the past five years or so, it has really experienced a golden age. There are more than 700,000 podcasts in the world right now, with 25% (or 68 million people) of the US population listening to at least one podcast episode every week.
Most podcasts are consumed while doing something else (commuting, washing the dishes, running) and represent a perfect substitute to music when you want to learn something new. It’s also easy to discover new podcast episodes for anything, from interviews to news to fiction.
So, chances are, you’re already listening to some podcasts on your smartphone or using an online podcast player (e.g. a podcast hosting service like Libsyn). But how do you listen to podcasts on Mac?
How To Choose The Best Podcast App For Mac
As you can imagine, there are lots of apps that let you listen to podcasts on Mac. The challenge is knowing how to choose the best one.
There are a few important questions you should ask:
- Does the Mac app sync seamlessly to your phone so you can continue listening right where you left off?
- How large is the app’s library of podcasts? Are there any exclusive podcasts available?
- Is it easy to manage your podcasts?
- Can you subscribe to public as well as private podcast feeds?
- Is there an option to speed up playback?
Although this would be a good start, your needs might vary, so feel free to adjust the questions accordingly. Now let’s look at a few examples of generally accepted best podcast apps on the market today.
Default: Apple Podcasts
You don’t have to go far to find a good enough podcast app for Mac. Since the release of macOS Catalina in 2019, a standalone full-featured Apple Podcasts app is available to all Mac users (previously podcasts were part of iTunes).
Pros: Apple Podcasts is easy to use and features the familiar design of iTunes, with all major navigation in the sidebar and all the controllers in the top bar.
The app has the largest market share of all podcast players and arguably the largest podcast library as well. It’s also easy to discover free audio stories that are worth a listen thanks to the sheer number of reviews.
A companion iOS app offers seamless synchronization, so you can start listening from the same spot when you’re on the go. Optional accelerated playback is available too.
Cons: The most significant downside of using Apple Podcasts is that it doesn’t have an Android app, so if you’re not using an iPhone, you won’t be able to easily sync your library, subscriptions, and episodes.
Using Apple Podcasts on Mac is very simple:
- Launch Podcasts from Applications
- Either navigate to a podcast you’d like to listen to in the Browse tab or use the search field in the sidebar
- When you find a good podcast, click the plus icon next to the episode to save it to your library, then click the download icon if want to listen to it offline
- You can find all saved episodes in Shows and Episodes in the sidebar at any time
If you’re an avid podcast listener, it won’t take you long to outgrow Apple Podcasts. Without doubt, it does all the basics well, but there are so many more interesting features available in more advanced podcast apps today.
Mimir, for example, brings podcast listening to a whole new level, with fast library navigation and automatically generated playlists, among other features. You can also import your own RSS feeds in just a few clicks.
Pros: A great recommendation engine to discover new podcast episodes similar to what you’ve been listening to before. The best feature, however, is silence skip, which fast-forwards those the bits where no one is talking, thus making podcast episodes considerably shorter without actually speeding up the playback.
Cons: Mimir is a paid app, although it comes free with a Setapp membership.
How to control your audio queue in Mimir:
- Launch Mimir
- Start playing any podcast episode
- At any time, drag and drop another podcast episode in the Up Next box on the right-hand side
- To adjust your Continuous Playback, click Show Options and use the dropdown menus to change Source, Sorting, or Show
As the largest music streaming service in the world, it’s only natural that Spotify extends its functionality to allow us to discover free audio stories, news, and other podcasts within it.
While not as full-featured as other dedicated podcast apps, Spotify gets extra points for its exclusive content. Last year, it paid Joe Rogan, the most popular podcaster in the world, a reported $100 million to become an exclusive Spotify podcast. So if you want to listen to podcasts that are only hosted on Spotify, you don’t really have other options.
Pros: A large library of podcasts, plus a fantastic selection of exclusives. A great, sleek design. Music and podcasts, all in one.
Cons: If you’re currently paying for private podcast feeds, there’s no way to add them to Spotify. In addition, you might sometimes hear advertising from Spotify, even if you’re a premium member.
Feature-Rich: Pocket Casts
A lesser-known but much-loved contender for the best podcast app is Pocket Casts. Overall, Pocket Casts has a great design, robust discovery algorithms, support for nearly all speakers on the market, a dedicated Apple Watch app, and much more.
The basic version of the app (that runs on smartphones) is free, but if you want web or macOS and Windows apps, cloud storage, and independent playback on Apple Watch, it’ll cost you $9.99 a year.
Pros: Syncs with all possible devices. Trims silent moments to speed up episodes. Supports chapters for long podcasts. Variable speed playback.
Cons: Desktop apps are only available for paid subscribers.
As you can see, choosing the best podcast app for Mac isn’t easy simply because there’s no shortage of outstanding apps. If you only listen to podcasts once in a while, you might be fine going with Apple Podcasts. If you already have a subscription to Spotify, you can use their podcast features too (although they are quite limited). If you like having podcast episodes sync across all devices, you can give Pocket Casts a try. For all the advanced podcasting features, check out Mimir.
Best of all, Mimir is available to you absolutely free for seven days through a trial of Setapp, a platform with more than 210 best-in-class Mac apps for any imaginable scenario, from an always fresh dynamic Desktop wallpaper (24 Hour Wallpaper) to an advanced volume booster (Boom 3D) to an instant photo-retouching tool (TouchRetouch). Try all these Setapp apps and 200 more today at no cost and see where you’ve been missing out!