Chrome OS includes a basic audio player, yet other options offer many more features to Chromebook podcast listeners.

How to access and listen to podcasts on a Chromebook

Four podcast players on a Chromebook: Google Podcasts (upper left), AntennaPod (upper right), podStation Podcast Player (lower left), Pocket Casts Plus (lower right). 

Photo: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

Podcast player options on mobile devices are fairly obvious. Many people use the podcast player native to their device, which means either the Apple Podcasts app on iOS or the Google Podcasts app on Android. When you have an internet connection, you may choose to stream a podcast audio session or download a file for listening later offline.

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On most Chromebooks, there’s no podcast app pre-installed, although there is a basic audio player app. Unfortunately, not every podcast player option will work on every Chrome OS device. For example, older Chromebooks don’t support Android apps. Additionally, if you use a device provided by your work or school, an administrator might restrict access to some sites, extensions, or apps. In most cases, though, one or more of the following approaches will let you listen to podcasts on a Chromebook.

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Basic built-in audio player

With Google Drive open in Chrome on a Chromebook, double-click on an MP3 file to open and play it with a built-in audio app. This player is quite basic and offers only two simple sliders: One for volume and one for playback position.

If you navigate to an MP3 file using the Chrome OS Files app, then double-click on it, you’ll gain access to a few more playback options (Figure A). As you navigate Google Drive, select a file, then move the slider at the top to Available Offline. This will ensure you can playback and listen to files without an internet connection.

Figure A

Screenshot of Chrome OS Files app, with an MP3 audio file open and playing, with basic controls (volume, forward, back) displayed.

Listen to audio files with the built-in player that appears when you open an audio file with the Chrome OS Files app.

Google Podcasts online

Go to the Google Podcasts page to access the web-based version. From this site, you may access and play podcasts as long as your device remains connected to the internet (Figure B). You may adjust the playback speed from as slow as .5x speed to as fast as 3x speed, as well as tap 10-second replay or 30-second forward button options. If your account has Web & App Activity history tracking turned on, your podcast subscriptions and playback status will sync across systems.

Figure B

Screenshot of podcasts.google.com, with 3 CNET and 1 ZDNet podcast in the top row.

With an internet connection, Google Podcasts on the web works well on a Chromebook.

podStation Podcast Player

The podStation Podcast Player is a Chrome extension that provides a browser-based way to search for and play podcasts, as well as the ability to subscribe to podcasts with a single-click on the extension from sites that support it. As with the Google Podcasts app, you may adjust playback speed. A download arrow saves each podcast episode to your default download folder (Figure C). Use the Chrome OS Files app, as mentioned in the first option above, to select and mark files available for offline use with the Chrome OS built-in audio player.

Figure C

Screenshot of podStation page, with controls and search at the top, and 3 subscribed podcasts below.

Install the podStation Podcast Player Chrome extension to search and playback podcasts, as well as access a podcast file download option.

AntennaPod

If your Chromebook supports Android apps, install the free and open source AntennaPod app for a privacy-respecting podcast player experience (Figure D). AntennaPod includes full-featured podcast search, subscription and playback options, along with support for downloads and offline playback of podcasts.

Figure D

Screenshot of AntennaPod Android app on a Chromebook, with ZDNet Security Update podcast shown.

The AntennaPod Android app delivers a full-featured podcast player that also works offline. Of the apps covered, this free and open source app is the most privacy-respecting.

Pocket Casts

Pocket Casts offers versions that work on Android and iOS, with a paid version, Pocket Casts Plus, available for the web, macOS, and Windows for just under $10 per year. Not only does Pocket Casts support variable playback speeds, it also includes selectable options to trim silence (mild, medium, or mad max), as well as support for downloads (Figure E).

Figure E

Screenshot of suggested Technology podcasts on Pocket Casts Plus on the web.

With a paid Pocket Casts Plus subscription (about $10 per year), you may use Pocket Casts on the web and desktop systems. Pocket Casts is free for Android and iOS devices.

What’s your experience?

Do you listen to podcasts on a Chromebook? If so, what podcast player do you use? If you use a podcast app on a Chromebook that supports offline access, how well does it work? Let me know what podcast player you prefer on your Chromebook–either in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber). 

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