Apple offers an army of podcasts – more than half a million at the last count – that discuss a wide range of topics. In the past you could subscribe and listen with iTunes, but things have changed for people with an Apple device. If you use an iPhone, iPad or Mac with Catalina, you can use the Apple Podcasts app. If you are working on a Windows computer or have not updated to the latest version of macOS, you are still on iTunes.
Regardless of which program you subscribe to, the trick is to choose the right subscription settings so that you can manage and access your favorite podcasts. Here's how to do it.
How to use the Podcasts app on mobile
Let's first view some podcasts via the Podcasts app built into iOS, iPadOS and available on Apple Watch. Open the Podcasts app on your device and tap the Browse button at the bottom of the screen to browse "new and remarkable" podcasts, as well as top shows and podcasts based on different categories.
To find a particular podcast by name or subject, tap the Search button and type a keyword or term to best describe the podcast you are looking for.
Tap a podcast that interests you. On the main screen of that podcast, tap the name of a specific episode to start streaming. If you like a podcast, you can subscribe to it by tapping the Subscribe button. This means that every new episode is downloaded as soon as it is available and appears in your list of podcasts.
Download episodes to your device by tapping the plus icon and then the cloud icon next to the name of a specific episode. After downloading, tap to play.
Tap Library at the bottom of the screen to see all the podcasts you currently subscribe to. You can sort your podcasts and view them by recently updated ones, by shows, by episodes or by downloaded episodes.
In your podcast list, tap one that you have subscribed to. All new episodes are downloaded automatically, but you must download older episodes manually to listen to them offline. Tap the cloud icon next to it to download an episode.
Long press on a separate episode to manage that selection. In the pop-up menu you can delete the download, go to the show, play the episode next or later, save the episode, mark it as played, share the episode, copy a link to it or report a problem. 
You can also manage your subscription to a full podcast by tapping the purple ellipse button. In the pop-up menu, you can share the podcast, unsubscribe, then play it, remove it from your library, copy a link to it, or report a problem. You can also tap Settings to further adjust the podcast.
Here you can switch the switches on or off to see new episodes and notifications for your subscribed podcasts. In the episodes section you can determine the order in which you see and play the episodes, choose to play them in consecutive order, play the most recent first, or save only the most recent episodes. Tap Custom Settings to make even more changes.
Under Custom Settings, you can change the order of episodes from Oldest to Newest. You can also set download settings for new episodes only, no episodes or all unplayed ones. By choosing the All Unplayed option, you can download all the episodes that you want to hear instead of having to download them separately.
You can choose to delete or save played episodes, limit the number of episodes to be delivered and the podcast every hour, 6 hours, can be renewed day, week or manually. When done, tap Done.
Tap the Listen Now icon at the bottom to listen to the next individual episodes of your subscribed podcasts.
How to use the Podcasts app on Mac
On a Mac with Catalina, open the Podcasts app. Click on the items for Browse and Top Charts to view various podcasts.
Type a keyword or term in the search field in the Search field to find a specific podcast. left panel. Open a podcast that interests you and tap the Subscribe button.
Click the item for shows in the Library section in the left pane. Click on a podcast that you want to manage. Right-click on an individual episode to download or delete it, save it, and execute other commands.
Tap the ellipse button to unsubscribe from the podcast, remove it from your library, and perform other actions.
Click the Settings command in the menu to sort the episodes and manage downloaded and played episodes.
How to use iTunes
If you are using Windows or have not yet upgraded to macOS Catalina, you can subscribe to podcasts via iTunes. Start iTunes on your computer and click the Store heading.
Click on the drop-down list with the different types of content and select the item for podcasts. You can now browse the available podcasts and search for specific podcasts by name or subject.
Click on a podcast that interests you and tap the Subscribe button to order a subscription. You can then view all the podcasts you have subscribed to by clicking the Library heading and selecting the Podcasts item.
To download a specific episode, click on the name of a podcast and then right-click on an episode. From the menu you can download or delete the episode, mark it as played, add it to a playlist or device, get information about the podcast, like it or don't like it, view it in the iTunes store, save the episode, copy details about it, view it in Windows Explorer or File Explorer, copy the URL or remove it from your library.
To manage the full podcast, click the blue button with the three dots. Here you can remove the download, add to a playlist, play, like or dislike, unsubscribe and remove from your library.
Then click the gear icon at the top right. From the menu you can sort the episodes and control downloaded episodes and played episodes.
You may have saved all your favorite podcasts on your computer, but you must sync your device to get them on iPhone or iPad. If you want to sync with iTunes, connect your device and click the small icon in the upper left corner. Click the Podcasts listing in the Settings section. Check the podcasts and individual episodes that you want to sync with your device. Then click on the Apply or Synchronize button.
On a Mac with Catalina, open the Finder app and click on your device listed in the Location section. The first time you do this, you must click the Trust button to synchronize your computer with your device. Click on the Podcasts header. Check the box to synchronize podcasts with [name of your device].
Select the check box next to Auto Copy. Click the drop-down menu and select which podcast episodes you want to sync based on the most recent and unplayed. Otherwise, leave that box unchecked, and then click the names of the podcasts that you want to record and select the individual episodes that you want to sync. When you are finished, click Apply.
For more information, view our overview of the 10 best Podcast Player apps.