How to Set Up Smart Downloads on Netflix, YouTube, and Podcasts

Photo of a phone with automatic download settings enabled

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

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

Almost all streaming apps have a safety net, in the form of an offline caching feature that allows you to temporarily store certain pieces of content on your phone, just in case you get cut off from the web. . What you might not realize is that a handful of apps can now do this automatically, locally saving stuff you’re likely to like.

While it’s not quite the same as picking movies and playlists yourself, turning on these automatic offline features can be really useful when you’re caught off guard in the short term – can -maybe your router broke down, or you unexpectedly have to go on a trip, or whatever it is. Here’s how to configure these features in advance.

We’ve included three apps that include this kind of functionality. The option for ‘smart’ downloads has yet to come to others like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus – they all offer manually triggered downloads, but hopefully they can push downloads smarter in the not-too-distant future, to make offline listening and viewing even easier.

Enabling Smart Downloads on Netflix

Credit to Netflix, which not only lets you cache movies and shows manually, all you have to do is press the To download on any listing page, but also has a smart downloads feature that saves movies and TV shows in the background, so they’re ready to play from your phone whenever you have them need.

Press the Downloads button at the bottom of the mobile interface application, then choose Clever Downloads. There are two toggle switches that you can turnn on: Enable Download next episode and the app will do just that, caching the next episode for the shows you’re currently watching. Enable Downloads for youand Netflix will download a selection of content it thinks you’ll like based on its recommendation algorithm.

screenshot of netflix smart downloads section

Screenshot: netflix

The settings below let you decide how much of your phone’s storage is reserved for smart downloads in Netflix, and you can even divide it by profile. Further down, you can see how much space is left on your phone and how much Netflix is ​​taking up.

All your downloads, whether manually or smartly triggered, are on the Downloads tab inside the app. If there’s something Netflix recorded that you don’t like, you can get rid of it by tapping the pencil icon (top right) and choosing what to delete, or by tapping the downloaded icons to the right of each item.

how to leave Automatic download from YouTube Recommended Videos

To be able to download YouTube videos to your phone, you must be a paying member of the YouTube Premium club, which will cost you $12 per month. Once you have handed over your money, youee To download buttons next to videos in the app.

If you don’t have the time or the decision to upload videos manually, YouTube will do it for you. Tap your profile picture (top right), then choose Settingsthen Background and downloadsthen 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 downloads section

Screenshot: Youtube

All YouTube says about the videos it chooses to upload is that they’re ‘recommended’ videos – so they’ll be the same ones pushed to you as you navigate through the app. . The list is refreshed every seven days.

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

Smart YouTube Music Downloads

Not to be outdone by YouTube, YouTube Music can also queue offline content for you, without you having to choose what you want. YouTube Music has a free tier, but you need to be on the paid plan ($10 per month) to download music to your phone for offline listening.

You’ll find little download buttons (the arrows pointing down) in various places on the YouTube Music interface on mobile, and you can tap any of them to save playlists, albums, and songs on your device. Faucet Library so what Downloads to see all that music stored in one place.

screenshot of Youtube Music download section

Screenshot: youtube music

Maybe you don’t want to bother selecting the music manually, in which case the app will do it for you. From Downloads screen, tap the cog icon (top right), and turn on the Smart Downloads (Android) or Download mixtape offline (iOS) toggle switch. Using the sliders below, you can choose the number of songs and the amount of storage used for the feature.

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 save up to 500 songs (including the offline mixtape) with the smart download feature. Not all of these albums and tracks will be in the offline mixtape, but they can all be found on the Downloads screen under Library.


Most podcast players worth their salt will automatically download new episodes of the podcasts you subscribe to, if you choose. In the Pocket Casts app, for example, you can tap the settings cog icon on a podcast page, then turn it on Automatic download flip the switch to have new episodes downloaded as they appear.

If you’re using the popular Overcast podcast player for iOS, you can find the appropriate option by going to a podcast listing page, then tapping Settings, Downloadand Download automatically. This will save you from having to automatically record and store new episodes, and you can even send them to custom playlists in Overcast.

Pocket Casts screenshot

Screenshot: Pocket casts

Perhaps you’re using the default Apple Podcasts app that came with your iPhone, in which case the option you need can be found by opening a podcast, tapping the three dots in the top-right corner, then choosing Settings and Download automatically: You can choose all new episodes, no episodes at all, or somewhere in between based on a specific number of episodes or their release date.

Whichever podcast player you prefer, you should find a similar option somewhere, which means you never be caught looking for something to listen to when you don’t have an internet connection. It’s a good idea to have multiple podcasts set to download automatically, just for variety.


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