Automatic Downloads make it easy for listeners to play and resume the podcasts they follow from any device — no matter their current device, location, or internet connectivity. On Apple Podcasts, Automatic Downloads are enabled for all shows that listeners follow by default and is designed to preserve cellular data usage and local storage.
Automatic Downloads work in the background for shows when a device is charged and connected to Wi-Fi. As listeners follow shows, and new episodes are published, those episodes are automatically downloaded in the background. When a listener opens Apple Podcasts, they will see those new episodes in the Up Next queue at the top of the Listen Now tab and in the Library tab. Depending on a device’s settings, or the preferences configured for a specific show, new episodes may begin to download when a listener opens Apple Podcasts instead of downloading in the background. Listeners can see which episodes have been downloaded by looking for the download icon to the right of an episode.
These behaviors may change from time to time as new features are introduced. We regularly update this feature to provide a seamless and customizable experience for users.
Automatic Downloads by show type
When a listener follows a show, Apple Podcasts will begin automatically downloading between one and three episodes, depending on the podcast’s “show type.” Automatic Downloads have specific behaviors for episodic and serial shows to help listeners start from the best place. Learn more about show types.
Creators can view and adjust their show type, add season and episode numbers, and mark shows as “complete series” in Apple Podcasts Connect or through a third-party hosting provider. Learn more about submitting and managing your show.
When a listener follows a show categorized by the creator as “episodic,” the latest episode is automatically downloaded for instant offline playback. New shows are categorized as episodic if a creator does not specify a show type.
When a listener follows a show categorized by the creator as “serial,” the first three episodes are automatically downloaded.
If a serialized show is also segmented into multiple seasons, the first three episodes from the latest season are automatically downloaded.
If a serialized show is identified as a “complete series,” meaning all episodes have been published and no additional episodes are expected, the first three episodes from the first season are automatically downloaded.
Episodes categorized as “bonus” are treated the same as episodes categorized as “full,” meaning they are also automatically downloaded. When a listener follows an episodic show where a bonus episode is the latest published episode, that bonus episode is automatically downloaded. Similarly, when a listener follows a serialized show, and a bonus episode is among the first three episodes, that bonus episode is automatically downloaded. This also applies to shows with multiple seasons or categorized as a complete series.
If a show only contains a trailer, then it will be automatically downloaded. Otherwise, trailers are not automatically downloaded.
When Automatic Downloads are paused
Automatic Downloads are paused when a device is out of available storage and will resume when more storage is made available.
Additionally, to help preserve storage, if a listener hasn’t played a show they follow for more than 15 days, and hasn’t played the latest five episodes, automatic downloads for that show are paused. This change is communicated to listeners with a pause indicator on the follow icon located at the top of the show page.
If a listener resumes playing that show, or changes the download preferences for that show, Apple Podcasts will resume downloading all unplayed episodes. Automatic Downloads will be paused again if the listener does not play a show they follow for more than 15 days and hasn’t played the latest five episodes. Automatic Downloads are unaffected if a show does not publish a new episode for 15 days or more.
Also, when listeners unfollow and re-follow a show, Apple Podcasts recognizes that the latest episode was already automatically downloaded, so it will not be automatically downloaded again. Instead, if the listener continues to the follow the show, only new episodes will be automatically downloaded.
Low Power Mode
Low Power Mode reduces the amount of power that your device uses when the battery gets low so that it lasts longer before you need to charge it. When a listener’s device is set to Low Power Mode, Automatic Downloads in the background are paused. When listeners open Apple Podcasts, they will see any new episodes that have been published by shows they follow, which will be automatically downloaded while the app remains open.
Configure downloads over cellular
Automatic Downloads does not use cellular data by default. From the Podcasts section of the Settings app on iPhone and iPad, listeners can enable Allow Over Cellular to allow Automatic Downloads to use cellular data. Listeners can choose whether their device should “Always Allow,” “Ask If Over 200 MB,” or “Always Ask” to use cellular data when manually or automatically downloading episodes. They can also enable Download When Saving to automatically download saved episodes and Remove Played Downloads to automatically delete downloaded episodes 24 hours after they’re played.
Manage automatically downloaded episodes
From the Podcasts section of the Settings app for iPhone and iPad, and the Preferences window for the Podcasts app on Mac, listeners can use Automatically Downloaded to choose how many episodes are downloaded and kept on their device for all shows.
Listeners can choose to keep a number of recent episodes (for example, 3 Latest Episodes per Show), all episodes published recently (for example, Last 14 Days), All New Episodes, or none (Off) so that all episodes are streamed when played. For those new to Apple Podcasts, the latest five episodes are kept for all episodic shows and all episodes are kept for serial shows by default. Otherwise, all new episodes are kept by default.
When listeners adjust this preference, their device will prompt them to remove automatically downloaded episodes that do not meet the newly selected criteria. Episodes that were manually downloaded or saved will not be removed. This preference can be customized for each show a listener follows in the Apple Podcasts app by tapping “...” on a show page, then Settings, and selecting a preference from Automatically Downloaded.
Apple Podcasts will also now recommend removing old downloads to free up device storage for new episodes and other media. Listeners can find these recommendations in the Settings app by tapping General, then iPhone Storage. If podcast episodes take up 15% or more of a device’s storage, an indicator will appear on the Downloaded section of Library in the Apple Podcasts app. Tapping Downloaded will prompt listeners to keep the latest five episodes per show and delete all older downloads. This prompt will appear if podcast episodes continue to represent a significant portion of a device’s storage.
Occasionally, users may download many episodes. This can happen when a user upgrades to a new device or restores their current device.
When a user sets up a new device, they have the option to restore from a backup. If they do so, and sign in with their Apple ID, their Library and playback history is carried over to the new device. If a user has many episodes in their Library, the new device will prompt the user to re-download these episodes so that they can continue listening without any interruptions. If a user chooses, all of their episodes are queued up to be re-downloaded in the background.
This process runs until it is completed and is optimized to preserve the device’s battery life and cellular data usage. That means it can take some time to complete depending on the device, its OS, storage capacity, internet connectivity, battery life, whether Apple Podcasts is open or in the background, and other content characteristics, such as the number of episodes in a user’s library and file size of each episode.
Turn off Automatic Downloads
Listeners can turn off Automatic Downloads for specific shows from the corresponding show pages. They can also disable Automatic Downloads for all shows by selecting Off under Automatically Downloaded in the Settings app on iPhone and iPad and Preferences window for Podcasts on Mac. Automatic Downloads are not available on Apple TV, HomePod and HomePod mini, CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and other smart speakers and car systems. Episodes played through these devices are streamed when listeners play.
Listeners can remove downloads for episodes from their devices. On iOS and iPadOS, listeners can press on a show or episode and select “Remove Download,” tap on the “...” button and select “Remove Download,” or swipe to the left on an episode in a list and select “Remove Download.” On macOS, listeners can right click on a show or episode and select “Remove Download.”
Automatic Downloads with Apple Watch
Listeners use Apple Watch to enjoy podcasts on the go. To help them stay up to date on the shows they follow, Apple Watch will add one episode from each of the top 10 shows available in Up Next from the paired iPhone by default. As new episodes appear in Up Next on iPhone, they are also downloaded to Apple Watch while Apple Watch is connected to power, and played episodes are removed from Apple Watch to preserve local storage.
Listeners can adjust how episodes are added to Apple Watch from the “Podcasts” section of the Watch app on the paired iPhone. After selecting “Custom,” listeners can choose to add Saved episodes, episodes included in a custom Station, and episodes from specific shows. If listeners select a custom Station, Apple Watch will download as many unplayed episodes as possible with available storage. If listeners select specific shows, Apple Watch will download the latest three unplayed episodes for episodic shows or the first three episodes of the latest season for serialized shows. Downloaded episodes are refreshed when Apple Watch is connected to power.
Episodes dowloaded to Apple Watch are available even when out of range of iPhone and cellular connectivity. Apple Watch does not use cellular to download episodes.
Measure podcast performance
Automatic Downloads provide a seamless experience for listeners. They are not designed to measure listener engagement and may provide an incomplete view of this behavior. Analytics in Apple Podcasts Connect offers a robust set of insights and visualization tools to help creators understand how listeners are engaging with their shows and episodes. This includes historical metrics for plays, listeners, engaged listeners, and followers. Explore new analytics features and understand your analytics.