What's a podcast, and how does it differ from mp3 downloads and streaming audio?
A podcast is a series of downloadable audio or video programs delivered to your computer or mobile device via podcasting software. iTunes is originally the most popular software for PCs and Macs; on an iPhone or iPad just use the Podcasts app that's already on your device. For Android we recommend the Podcast Addict app (downloadable from the Google Play store). By "subscribing" to a podcast, you're set up to automatically download each new episode as it's available. Rick Steves offers a variety of podcasts.
Mp3 files are audio files that you can download, save to any folder on your computer as you would any other kind of file, and listen to whenever you like, without needing to be online. (Mp3 files can't, however, be downloaded to Apple iOS devices through its native apps.) Rick offers mp3 downloads for his audio tours (but not other kinds of podcasts).
Streaming audio allows you to play audio content directly from another website, rather than having to first download an audio file to your device. Rick's archived radio shows and Audio Europe are both available for streaming. You can't stream audio without being online.
What kinds of podcasts does Rick Steves offer?
Rick offers several podcasts:
- Travel with Rick Steves: Weekly hour-long installments of his radio show
- Video podcast: Select clips from his public-television show, Rick Steves' Europe (new clip every week)
- Travel Talks series: Audio versions of Rick's travel-skills talks
How can I download Rick's podcasts?
If you'd like to get regular installments of any of Rick's podcasts as soon as they're available, simply subscribe (see below).
If you'd rather just download a specific episode, search on "Rick Steves" within your podcasting software/app (described below). Instead of hitting the "subscribe" button, just browse to the title of the episode you're interested in and hit the download icon that appears next to it.
How can I subscribe to a podcast?
On an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, use the Podcasts app, which is built into your device (no need to download it; it's already there). Open the app, search for "Rick Steves," select the podcast(s) you'd like to subscribe to, and tap the "Subscribe" button. (This won't work with iPod Nano, iPod Mini, iPod Shuffle, or iPod Classic, as they lack the Podcasts app.)
On an Android device, you'll first need to download a podcasting app (we recommend the Podcast Addict app, though many other podcasting apps work fine, too). In the Google Play store on your device, search for the name of the app you want (e.g."Podcast Addict"), then download it to your device. Once it's installed, open the app, tap the "+" icon (skip this step if not using Podcast Addict), search for "Rick Steves," select the podcast(s) you'd like to subscribe to, and tap the "Subscribe" button.
On a personal computer iTunes is the most popular program for accessing podcasts (either to listen directly from your computer or in order to upload podcasts onto an iPod Nano, iPod Mini, iPod Shuffle, iPod Classic, or other mp3 player). If iTunes isn't already installed on your PC you can download iTunes for Windows for free). If your Mac has Apple Podcasts instead of iTunes, see the "iPhone" directions above for using the Podcasts app.
If you don't find any Rick Steves podcasts in your chosen podcasting app, try downloading another app, or enter the specific podcasting URL for your desired podcast into your app. We make these URLs available for our most popular subscriptions:
Rick Steves' Travel Talks
Travel with Rick Steves
Rick Steves' Europe Video
How do I use iTunes once I have it installed?
Note: If you're looking to access podcasts on your smartphone or tablet, you don't need to use iTunes — just head straight to your podcasting app (described above).
Through the iTunes Store you can download music and podcasts into your iTunes Library. From your iTunes Library, you can listen to your audio (or watch video) by selecting the file and clicking the triangular Play button. You can also upload audio from your iTunes Library to your iPod or mp3 player (see below).
Songs and podcasts that you see in the iTunes Library are stored on your computer's hard drive — you can listen to them whether you're online or not — whereas songs and podcasts you see in the iTunes Store are not on your computer per se, but available for you to download. To switch between viewing music and podcasts in your library and in the store, look for the Store/Library buttons at the top or along the side of your iTunes window.
To download Rick's free podcasts from the iTunes Store:
- Open the iTunes program on your computer.
- Switch your view in iTunes to the iTunes Store (rather than the iTunes Library).
- Use the Search bar at the top of iTunes to search for "Rick Steves."
- Select the podcast(s) you're interested in. You can then either subscribe to that podcast by selecting the "Subscribe" button, or download individual episodes by browsing to the ones you're interested in and clicking the download button that appears next to each episode.
How do I transfer files from my computer into iTunes?
It's much easier to download audio files directly from the iTunes Store into your iTunes Library than it is to download files to your computer's hard drive and then transfer them into iTunes. However, if the files are already on your computer, here's how to transfer them into your iTunes Library:
- Open iTunes.
From the top menu bar, select "File,"* then select "Add Folder to Library."
* If you don't see the File menu at the top of your screen when you're in iTunes, hit the Alt key on your keyboard to make it appear. On a Mac, the Edit menu will disappear if you're viewing iTunes in full-screen mode — to make it reappear, move your cursor arrow to the top of the screen.
- Within your "Add Folder to Library" window, browse to the folder containing the audio files that you'd like to have in your iTunes library, select those files, and click "OK."
Any files you've imported into iTunes this way will appear in your iTunes Library under "Music."
How do I transfer podcast files onto my iPod?
If you're using an iPod Nano, iPod Mini, iPod Shuffle, or iPod Classic:
If your Mac came with Apple Podcasts instead of iTunes, see Apple's iPod support.
If you have iTunes, follow the instructions below.
- Open iTunes.
- Create a new playlist.
- Drag and drop the audio files from either the "Podcasts" or "Music" tab (on the left side of your iTunes window) into that playlist.
- Plug your iPod into your computer.
- Transfer the new playlist to your iPod. If you opt to sync your device to iTunes, this new playlist will be automatically transferred to your iPod. To transfer the playlist manually, find the icon for your iPod within the iTunes window, than drag and drop the playlist from the Library into the iPod.
If the above steps don't quite work, try checking Apple's iPod Support for the latest specifics on navigating iTunes.
If you're looking to access podcasts on your iPod Touch, you don't need to use your computer or iTunes — just head straight to your podcasting app (described above in "How can I subscribe to a podcast?").
How do I transfer podcast files onto my mp3 player?
(If you have an iPod or smartphone, save yourself some hassle by following the more straightforward steps outlined above under "How do I transfer podcast files from iTunes to my iPod?" or, for smartphone users, "How can I subscribe to a podcast feed?")
If you're using a non-iPod, non-phone mp3 player (such as Sony Walkman, SanDisk Sansa, Pyle, or Zune), you'll first need to download the audio files to your computer. You do that in one of two ways:
- from iTunes
- from our website
How to find podcast files you downloaded to your computer via iTunes*
- Open the iTunes program on your computer.
From the top menu bar, select "Edit," then select "Preferences."
* If you don't see the Edit menu at the top of iTunes, tap the "Alt" key on your keyboard to make it appear. On a Mac, the Edit menu will disappear if you're viewing iTunes in full-screen mode — to make the menu reappear, move your cursor arrow to the top of the screen.
- Under "Preferences," select the "Advanced" tab. The location of your podcast files is listed in the box immediately below where it says "iTunes Media folder location."
- Browse to that folder location on your computer (via Windows Explorer or your Mac's Finder) to find your podcasts; note that these files may be contained within a "Music" or "Podcasts" sub-folder.
*Since podcasts from iTunes are formatted as "m4a" files, not mp3 files, not all mp3 players can play podcasts downloaded from iTunes. However, many mp3 players do support the m4a format (and often a few other file types as well). If you're having a hard time uploading audio files to your mp3 player, first check the manufacturer's description of your device to see if it supports m4a files. Note that mp3 players may not support images or other non-audio podcast features, such as the option to skip between "chapters."
How to transfer podcast files from your computer to your mp3 player
While each kind of mp3 device uses specific software to upload audio, these general steps apply to all players:
- Open your player's audio-uploading software. (If you can't locate this software, you'll need to install it first.)
- Plug your mp3 player into your computer.
- On your computer, select the audio you want to upload.
- On your computer, sync your device to start the upload.
- Wait for the upload to complete before detaching your device from your computer.
For specific advice on what software you need, how to use it to find your audio files, or how to upload audio files to your device, see the manufacturer's instructions for your player (or find them online ― e.g. for help with a Sansa mp3 player, search Google for "how to upload audio files to my Sansa mp3 player"). Rick Steves' Europe and its employees cannot assist you with these specifics.
How do I play the podcast on my device?
Whether you're using an iPod, the iOS Podcasts app, any other podcasting app, or an mp3 player, the instructions for playback are generally the same:
- Go to the "Music" section of your iPod, app, or mp3 player (if "Music" isn't an option, look for "My Podcasts" or "Playlist").
- Select the podcast and episode you'd like to listen to.
- Most devices will automatically begin playing the audio you've selected. You can use the Play/Pause button to start and stop playback. If chapter-selector buttons appear, you can use these to skip ahead (or back) as you like.