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How to set up smart downloads on Netflix, YouTube and podcasts

How to set up smart downloads on Netflix, YouTube and podcasts

Picture of a phone with automatic download settings on

Netflix is ​​an app with an automatic download option.
Photo: David Nield / Gizmodo

Having all the music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies and TV shows stored in the cloud is a good idea – you can get them from any device and it frees up storage space on your gadgets. The only time it’s a problem is when you can not connect to the cloud: your internet goes down, or you do not get a strong mobile signal, or you are traveling.

Almost all streaming apps out there have a safety net, in the form of an offline caching feature that allows you to temporarily store certain parts of the content on your phone, in case you are cut off from the net. What you may not have realized is that a handful of apps can now do this automatically, and store things locally that you are likely to like.

While not exactly the same as selecting movies and playlists yourself, it can be very helpful to enable these automatic offline features when you are caught on short notice – your router may have failed, or you may have to go on an unexpected trip , or whatever It is. How to get these features configured in advance.

We have included three apps that have this type of feature included. The “smart” download option has not yet reached others such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus – they all offer manually triggered downloads, but we hope they can squeeze out smarter downloads in the not-too-distant future, to make listening and viewing offline even easier.

Enables smart downloads on Netflix

Credit to Netflix, which not only lets you cache movies and shows manually – just tap download button on any listing page – but also has a smart download feature that stores movies and TV shows in the background so they are ready to be launched from your phone when needed.

Press Downloads button at the bottom of the mobile interface app, then select Smart Downloads. There are two rocker switches you can turnn on: Activate Download the next episode and the app will do just that by caching the next episode for programs you are currently watching. Enable Downloads for youand Netflix will download a selection of things it thinks you will like based on the recommendation algorithm.

screenshot of Netflix's smart download section

Screenshot: Netflix

The settings below allow you to decide how much of your phone’s storage space should be given over to smart Netflix downloads, and you can even split this up by profile. Further down you can see how much space is left on the phone and how much Netflix takes up.

All your downloads, whether triggered manually or smartly, can be found at Downloads tab inside the app. If there is something Netflix has stored that you are not interested in, you can get rid of it by either tapping the pencil icon (top right) and choosing what you want to delete, or by tapping the downloaded icons to the right of each item .

How to leave YouTube downloads automatically Recommended Videos

To download YouTube videos to your phone, You must be a paid member of the YouTube Premium Club, which will cost you $ 12 a month. Once you have handed over your money, you will see download buttons next to videos in the app.

If you do not have the time or determination to download videos manually, YouTube will do it for you. Tap your profile picture (top right), then select Settingsthen Wallpaper and downloadsand then activate Smart downloads. You can also choose Download quality to set a default video quality level (which of course affects the storage required for your clips).

screenshot of YouTube's download section

Screenshot: YouTube

All YouTube says about the videos it chooses to download is that they are “recommended” videos – so they will be the same ones that are pushed against you while you browse around the app. The list is updated every seven days.

To find your downloaded videos in the YouTube app, tap Library and so Downloads. You can watch (and if necessary delete) videos from here, but there is no option to specify the amount of storage space to be allocated to the feature. When we tested it, 10 videos were saved locally.

Smart downloads on YouTube Music

In order not to be surpassed by YouTube, YouTube Music can also set up some offline content for you, without you having to pick and choose what you want. YouTube Music has a free level, but you must have the paid plan ($ 10 per month) to download music to your phone to listen offline.

You can find small download buttons (arrows pointing down) in different places in the YouTube Music mobile interface, and you can tap one of them to save playlists, albums and songs to your device. Press Library and so Downloads to see all this stored music in one place.

screenshot of the YouTube Music Downloads section

Screenshot: YouTube Music

Maybe you do not want to go to the trouble of picking out music manually, in which case the app will do it for you. From Downloads screen, tap the gear icon (top right) and turn on Smart downloads (Android) or Download an offline mixtape (iOS) toggle switch. By using the sliders below, you can choose how many songs and how much storage is used for the function.

This different approach is a bit strange: The offline mixtape appears as a playlist on Android and iOS, but its maximum song limit (up to 100 tracks) can only be set on iOS. On Android, you can store up to 500 songs (including offline mixtape) through the smart downloads feature. Not all of these albums and tracks will be in the offline mix, but they can all be found on Downloads screen below Library.


Most podcast players worthy of the name will automatically download new episodes of podcasts that you subscribe to, if you wish. In the Pocket Casts app, for example, you can tap the settings wheel icon on a podcast page, then turn on Automatic download switch to get new episodes downloaded as they appear.

In the meantime, if you’re in the popular Overcast podcast player for iOS, you can find the appropriate option by going to a podcast listing page and then tapping Settings, Downloadingand Download automatically. It will save you from saving and saving new episodes automatically, and you can even send them to custom playlists in Overcast.

screenshot of Pocket Casts

Screenshot: Pocket Cast

Maybe you use the standard Apple Podcasts app that comes with the iPhone, in which case you can find the option you need by opening a podcast, tapping the three dots at the top right and then selecting Settings and Download automatically: You can select all new episodes, no episodes at all, or somewhere in between based on a specific number of episodes or when they were released.

Whichever podcast player you prefer, you should find a similar option somewhere, which means you will never stay caught looking for something to listen to when you do not have an internet connection. It is a good idea to have several podcasts set to download automatically, just for the sake of variety.

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