Apple’s Podcasts app automatically downloads new episodes of podcasts you subscribe to, storing them on your device. That’s convenient, but it can strain all those 16GB iPhones and iPads.
The Podcasts app offers quite a few options for recovering your storage, from quickly deleting entire shows to limiting how many episodes are stored on your device.
See How Much Space the Podcasts App is Using
You can view how much space the Podcasts app is using like you’d see how much space any app is using on your iPhone or iPad. Open the Settings app, tap “General,” tap “Storage & iCloud Usage,” and tap “Manage Storage” under Storage. Look for the Podcasts app in the list of apps and you’ll see how much storage it’s using on your current device.
Quickly Delete Entire Podcasts
If you need to recover space as fast as possible, you can do this directly from the Storage screen. Tap the “Podcasts” app in the list of apps using space. You’ll see a breakdown of its storage usage, including how much space is used by each podcast you’re subscribed to.
To delete a podcast, swipe left on it and tap “Delete.” You can also click “Edit” at the top-right corner of your screen and use the buttons to quickly delete podcasts.
This won’t actually unsubscribe you from any podcasts. When you visit the Podcasts app again, you’ll still see those shows, you just won’t have any of its episodes stored on your device. The Podcasts app will continue to download new episodes as usual, and you can choose to download or stream old episodes, if you like.
Set Episode Limits
To keep using the Podcasts app normally, but prevent it from using an ever-increasing amount of storage, you may want to change its settings. You won’t find these inside the Podcasts app itself. Instead, you’ll need to open iOS’ Settings app and tap “Podcasts” on the main Settings screen.
Set your desired options under Podcast Defaults. By default, the Podcasts app will download new episodes and delete played episodes, but it won’t limit the number of episodes it downloads and stores. This means that, if you added a podcast weeks ago and never listened to it, your Podcasts app is continually downloading new episodes and filling up your iPhone or iPad’s storage.
To prevent this from happening, you can tap “Limit Episodes” here and set an episode limit. For example, you could have the app only keep the 10 most recent episodes, or automatically delete episodes after a month.
You should also ensure the the “Delete Played Episodes” option is enabled, as this will help you automatically free up space as you listen to those episodes.
The options under Settings > Podcasts are just the default options that are applied when you subscribe to a new podcast in the Podcasts app. If you haven’t changed the default options for any podcasts you’ve subscribed to, changing the above settings will also change the options your existing podcasts use. If you have changed their settings, you may need to update each podcast’s settings individually.
To find out, open the Podcasts app and tap the “My Podcasts” icon. Tap a podcast’s name and then tap the gear icon to access its settings. Under “On This iPhone” or “On This iPad,” ensure the episode limit is set to your desired limit.
This screen allows you to set different limits and settings for different podcasts. For example, you could only keep one or two recent episodes for a news podcast, but keep more episodes for other podcasts.
Manage Individual Episodes
You can also individually manage each downloaded episode. Under My Podcasts, tap a podcast to view the individual episodes. Episodes that haven’t been downloaded to your device, but are available to download or stream, have a cloud icon next to them. If you don’t see a cloud icon, the episode has been downloaded and is taking up space on your device. For example, in the screenshot below, the first episode is downloaded, and the second and third aren’t.
To delete a downloaded episode, tap the “…” menu button to the right of the episode and tap “Remove Download.” It will be removed from your device.
You can also swipe left on an episode and tap “Delete” or tap the “Edit” button and bulk-delete episodes. If you do this, they’ll also be deleted from the “Unplayed” view. If you just use the “Remove Download” option instead, they’ll be left in the Unplayed view so you’ll know you haven’t played them. (Even if you do delete episodes from the Unplayed view, you’ll still be able to see them on the “Feed” view. But it’ll be tough to remember whether you’ve listened to them or simply deleted them when you check in the future.)
Prevent a Podcast From Automatically Downloading New Episodes
You can also prevent a podcast from automatically downloading new episodes to your iPhone or iPad in the future. To do this, open the Podcasts app and tap “My Podcasts.” If you never plan on listening to a podcast again, you can unsubscribe from it by swiping left on it and tapping “Delete.”
However, you can also remain subscribed to a podcast while preventing it from downloading future episodes. To do this, tap the name of a podcast on the My Podcasts view and tap the gear icon to view its settings. Under “On This iPhone” or “On This iPad,” tap “Download Episodes” and select “Off.” The Podcasts app won’t automatically download episodes of that podcast in the future.
To change the default setting for podcasts to Podcasts app from automatically downloading new episodes for any podcast using those default settings, open the Settings app, tap “Podcasts,” and set “Download Episodes ” to “Off” under “Podcast Defaults.”
If you use a third-party app to listen to podcasts, none of these settings apply to it. You’ll see the podcasts downloaded by that app as part of the app’s storage on the Storage screen. Use the options provided in the other app’s settings to manage how much space it uses for downloaded podcasts. You can also just delete the app and immediately recover all the storage it’s using, if you don’t want to use it any longer. Uninstall the app and all its downloaded podcasts will be erased.
Image Credit: Casey Fiesler on Flickr