How to Record Any Audio File on iPhone without Mac

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Have you ever downloaded an audio file to your iPhone and then wondered how you are supposed to listen to it? Maybe you have a few recorded lectures that you want to listen to on an airplane, or you have audiobooks that you want to listen to on the beach. The bad news is that you can’t add music or any other sound to your Music app library without a Mac or PC.

Since iOS 11, you can download and save audio files in the Files app, but good luck listening to them. It’s like listening to audio in the Finder on your Mac, with no way to save your place or really control playback.

But there is a better way. The Overcast podcast app, which is pretty great in general, also lets you upload your own audio files and then treat them like regular podcast episodes. We also have a more complex method that requires a bit of setup, but can be used with any podcast app, including Apple’s. Here is how to use them.

How to upload your own files to Overcast

Overcast is a fantastic podcast player, not least because it removes pauses in people’s speech, which makes podcasts a lot less frustrating to listen to. The app is free to download, but if you want to download your own audio files, you’ll need to pay a $ 10 per year subscription (this unlocks several other features as well).

Once you’ve done that, you can upload your own files to Overcast, through its website. It’s easy.

Step 1. Activate the paid subscription in the Overcast app on your iPhone or iPad.

Activate your premium Overcast subscription in the iOS app.
Photo: Mac Cult

2nd step. Create an Overcast account.

You will need to create an Overcast account to log into the Overcast web application. This is also found in the Overcast settings, as shown in this screenshot:

Overcast does not have an account by default, so create one here. Overcast does not have an account by default, so create one here.

Give it a username and password, and off you go! You are now ready to download a file.

Step 3. Download any audio file.

Once you have an active subscription and logged into your account on Overcast.fm, simply go to overcast.fm/uploads, and you’ll see a familiar web form for uploading files. You will actually need to have files to download, which is outside the scope of this manual. It’s easy, however – when you download an audio file from Mobile Safari, you simply save it to a folder somewhere in your Files app and go from there. And you can, of course, download files from your Mac.

Step 4. Listen and enjoy!

Your uploaded files appear in a special section of Overcast, ready to download or stream like any other podcast. It is a great way to add the weird file to your iPhone for listening.

Start your own podcast with Zapier

Longtime readers will be familiar with If This Then That, or IFTT, a great service that connects other web services to each other, enabling automation. Zapier is like a pro version of IFTTT, with a lot more control, better features, and a lot less home automation bullshit.

For today’s manual, we’ll be using Zapier to turn a folder of audio files in your Dropbox into a podcast RSS feed. It’s super simple, because Zapier already has an action configured to do it. All you have to do is create an account (it’s free, with limitations) and point it to your own Dropbox.

zap dropbox rss
Point the Zapier action to the correct folder on your Dropbox and make sure it’s set to “include file contents”.
Photo: Mac Cult

First, sign up on Zapier, if you haven’t already. Then create a new folder in your Dropbox. Let’s call it Podcasts. Then head to Zapier and add this action: Get an RSS feed of all new files in your Dropbox. If you haven’t connected your Dropbox to Zapier yet, you’ll be prompted to do so.

Then you just need to go through the setup process step by step. It sounds complicated, but you don’t really need to do much for the default settings. You will need to choose the Podcasts folder in your Dropbox, and then tap To continue.

Start your own podcast feed

You will see this screen, which looks like a nightmare, but you don’t need to do much. Almost everything is already filled. Just make sure you copy feed url at the top of the page (you’ll add it to your podcast app later), and

Do not panic.
Do not panic.
Photo: Mac Cult

The only change I made was in the Media URL section, where you can “Specify a raw download URL for your podcast, image, or other media file”. I clicked the drop-down arrow next to the box and chose the Direct Media Link, as seen here:

This parameter can be optional.
This parameter can be optional.
Photo: Mac Cult

This ensures (I think) that the RSS feed contains the raw audio file, so Overcast (or any other podcast app) can use it. Then click on Done and Finish, and make sure to activate your “Zap”.

Dropbox isn’t really designed for hosting podcasts, and if you host a popular public podcast this way, you’ll soon be shut down or cut. But for personal use it is ideal. And if you are a teacher, say, you can also use this method to share files with your class.

Add your new feed to your podcast app

Paste your RSS link to subscribe to your personal podcast.
Paste your RSS link to subscribe to your personal podcast.
Photo: Mac Cult

Remember the RSS feed address you copied at the start of the last section? Just open your favorite podcast listening app and add a podcast in the usual way. There will be an option somewhere to add a new podcast by URL. Tap on it, paste your link, and hit save, or add, or whatever it tells you to do.

Now, whenever you add an audio file to the Podcasts folder in your Dropbox, it will appear as a podcast and automatically download to your iPhone. Pretty cool, isn’t it? All you need to do is copy these audio files to your Dropbox.

The Third Way – HufferDuffer

HufferDuffer is much like Instapaper for audio files found on the web. All you do is create a free account and then drag a bookmark to Safari’s bookmarks bar. You will receive a podcast feed, which you can add to the player of your choice with one click.

Then whenever you find any audio on the web that you want to record, just tap the bookmark and the audio will be added to your podcast feed and end up in your podcast listening app.

This is clearly the easiest way to backup audio files that you already find on the internet, but it does not allow you to add an old audio file that you like. I opted for a double team effort, together using the HufferDuffer and Zapier-Dropbox methods. And because they’re all podcasts at the end, everything shows up in one app so I can listen to them.


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