How to turn off automatic downloads in the Podcasts app on iPhone and iPad

Podcasts app in iOS14
Podcasts app in iOS14 (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz/ iMore)

No matter what you're into, you'll probably find a podcast for it. After all, there are a ton of podcasts for pretty much anything, whether it's tech or world news, immersive storytelling experiences, or just some laughs. Podcasts are great for anyone and everyone, and there is bound to be at least one podcast that you enjoy.

While there are a lot of great third-party podcasts app alternatives, you can also just stick with Apple's Podcasts app, which is already built-in to your best iPhone. However, you may experience automatic downloads for episodes of podcasts that you are already following, and if you're on a base storage iPhone, then that is eating into your available storage space! Here's how to turn off automatic downloads in the Podcasts app on iPhone and iPad.

How to turn off automatic downloads for the Podcasts app

  1. Launch Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Podcasts.
  3. Scroll down a bit and tap the toggle for Enable When Following to OFF (gray).

Turn off automatic downloads for the Podcasts app: Launch Settings, tap Podcasts, tap toggle for Enable While Following to OFF (gray) (Image credit: iMore)

Optionally, if you decide to allow automatic downloads, there is a new option right above Enable When Following to Allow Over Cellular. If you go this route, make sure that you have enough data on your cellular plan to do so, because those overage charges can add up!

What happened to subscriptions?

Iphone Podcasts Subscriptions Hero

Iphone Podcasts Subscriptions Hero (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

If you've been using the Podcasts app for a while, you may have noticed that you no longer "subscribe" to a podcast, but instead you "follow" it. That's because Apple introduced Podcast Subscriptions, which launched in 2021 in over 170 countries from the start.

Now, when you "subscribe" to a podcast, you'll get exclusive bonus content, and the cost of the subscription is up to the content producers. With the Podcast Subscriptions feature, content creators can offer sponsor-free versions, exclusive episodes, and even early access to content for subscribers.

Don't worry though — Podcast Subscriptions are optional, so you don't have to worry about having to pay for all of your current favorites. You'll be able to pick-and-choose what podcasts you want to subscribe to for bonus content. And if you end up subscribing to a podcast, Podcast Subscriptions supports Family Sharing, so you can share that single subscription with up to six other people.

For those who are wondering how much a Podcast Subscription costs, well, that's entirely up to the creators. If the creators already have some kind of membership program for listeners, then it may be similar, though Apple will be taking a 30% cut from these subscriptions, and creators have to pay $20 a year to get access to Podcast Subscription features. The result may end up being slightly more than if you were to pay the content creators directly, since they have to make up for those Apple fees somehow.

Download your podcasts when you want to

Podcasts are great, but it's better to just download what you need on your own time, rather than have automatic downloads on and eat up your cellular data and your device space. After all, unless you have the 1TB iPhone 13 Pro, then space is a precious commodity and shouldn't be wasted on something you didn't want!

Updated May 2022: Updated for iOS 15.

Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed. When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.