How to add a podcast by URL feed to Apple's Podcasts app and other apps

While it’s usually a click or tap, you may wind up with a URL you want to add manually.

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When you want to subscribe to a podcast, it’s usually as easy as clicking a link—often a link labeled Add to Apple Podcasts or to another popular podcast app, like Castro, Overcast, and Pocket Casts.

However, I increasingly find that a benefit of membership to editorial sites, many kinds of creators’ patronage campaigns, and subscription podcast networks includes a custom podcast feed tailored to you or only available to members. In order to prevent this feed from becoming widely distributed, it’s sometimes made not quite as easy to add through a single click.

Here’s how to add a podcast feed to the four most-popular podcast apps.

Get the podcast URL

A podcast URL uses the RSS format for creating a machine-readable list of discrete entries, as in a blog. For podcasts, the RSS feed includes a special enclosure tag that podcast apps can interpret to download an audio file.

The plainest form of the URL, and the one that typically works reliably across all apps and services, starts with http:// or https:// and often ends with .rss. Custom feeds may instead end with a long code. For custom, paid, or membership feeds, the feed may be the only link or may be labeled as “Subscribe via RSS.”

Copy that link.

If you’re using a feed that requires logging into a website to use, you will also need to enter additional information into the podcast app when it attempts to retrieve the URL. (This login type is an ancient authentication system that browsers know how to handle but occurs outside a web page.)

Depending on the app, you may be able to avoid a cumbersome entry process and simply reformat the podcast URL to embed the username and password. It looks like this:

https://username:password@domainname.com/podcast.rss

Drop in your username and password in the appropriate spots. If you omit those details and they’re required, however, the app should prompt you enter them when you attempt to subscribe.

Apple Podcasts

mac911 apple podcasts add url IDG

Apple Podcasts requires a few steps to paste in the URL to add a podcast manually.

In iOS:

  1. Tap the Library button.
  2. Tap Edit in the upper-right corner.
  3. Tap Add a Show by URL.
  4. Paste the URL into the Podcast URL field.
  5. Tap Subscribe.

In iTunes in macOS 10.14 Mojave and earlier:

  1. Select File > Subscribe to Podcast.
  2. Paste the URL into the field.
  3. Click OK.

In macOS 10.15 Catalina’s standalone Podcasts app:

  1. Select File > Add a Show by URL.
  2. Paste the URL into the field.
  3. Click Subscribe.

Castro

  1. Tap the Discover icon (a magnifying glass).
  2. Tap Paste URL (Castro detects if one is on the clipboard) or tap in the field and paste.
  3. Castro shows the podcast listed in the feed. Tap the + to add it and set subscriptions options.

Overcast

  1. Tap the + icon in the upper-right corner.
  2. Overcast detects a podcast URL and prefills it in the Podcast URL field. You can also paste if it doesn’t.
  3. Tap Done and the podcast is added.

Overcast offers the option after entering the feed to add a user name and password for protected feeds. By providing a way to enter the details through form fields, it’s easier to use a password manager or to copy and paste your credentials.

Pocket Casts

  1. mac911 pocketcasts add url IDG

    Pocket Casts lets you paste a URL right into the Search field in its Discover view.

    Tap the Discover icon.
  2. In the Search field, paste the URL.
  3. Tap the Search button.
  4. Tap the podcast that appears.
  5. Tap Subscribe.

This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Violet.

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