Saving Podcast Files to Evernote

I’m a bit of a weirdo, but I can’t be the only one. Sometimes I want to save the audio file for a podcast I’m listening to into Evernote. There are several reasons for this: sometimes they’re just entertaining, sometimes they’re instructional on some topic, and sometimes I just want to refer to them later without having to remember how to find them.

Because I alternate between iOS podcast apps, this process varies from automagic to requiring a little work on my part. I hate work on my part; not only is it time consuming, it feels like one of those issues that shouldn’t require lots of manual labor in 2015.

First, the automagic. If you are a person who likes to save podcast audio files into Evernote, as opposed to just a link to the file on the Internet, Pocket Casts by Shifty Jelly is your huckleberry. These guys have thought of almost everything, and you can directly export the media file from Pocket Casts to open in whatever app you wish. Just tap the Share Sheet icon at the top of the episode details view, and then choose “Downloaded File” from the two options. You’ll then be shown a list of programs to open the podcast media file in.

It’s brilliant, and it’s perfect, and I love those guys for it.

Pocket Casts Share SheetPocket Casts Share Sheet

Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I tend to alternate podcast apps. Pocket Casts is one of the two I use; the other one is Overcast. And Overcast doesn’t allow exporting the audio file to other apps the way Pocket Casts does. I guess a lot of people only listen to tech podcasts of the variety where it’s a group of people repeating the same things as every other tech podcast, and therefore there’s no need or desire to save the file. That gets into a whole other topic about listening for a reason versus momentary entertainment before racing on to the next one, but I’m not going there. Instead, I’m going to be productive and offer a solution for those who do need it.

Using a brilliant iOS app called Workflow, after a little tinkering with other example workflows, I created a Workflow for saving podcast audio files from Overcast to Evernote.

Actually, that’s not technically true. Technically, it parses the web page associated with the URL provided by Overcast’s share link to find the URL to the audio file and download it. Then it takes the downloaded file and creates a new note in Evernote for it. The result is you’re re-downloading a file that Overcast has already downloaded – sorry about that. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s anything I can do about it since Overcast isn’t making the file available to me.

It works by tapping the Share icon in the episode details of a podcast in Overcast, then tapping the Run Workflow icon, and then choosing the Overcast to Evernote workflow, and off it goes. Please note that you do need the Workflow app installed on your iOS device, and you have to have already downloaded my workflow.

Overcast Share Sheet     Workflow List     Workflow Running

Another horrific failure of my workflow besides having to re-download the media file is that larger podcasts, specifically anything above around 52 MB, will immediately crash the Evernote extension and fail to upload the file to Evernote. Rest assured that this isn’t a failure of my workflow: it also happens when I try to save the media file from Pocket Casts to Evernote, and indeed when I save a file of that size or larger to Evernote on iOS through whatever means.

I tweeted the Evernote guys and asked if this was a limitation of their extension or of iOS extensions in general, but they didn’t understand what I was asking and started referring me to their upload limits for standard VS. premium Evernote accounts.1 So I don’t know if the fault lies with Evernote or with iOS extensions.

Obviously, then, video files are out of the question, but fortunately that’s not an issue because Overcast doesn’t do video podcasts anyway. But episodes of audio podcasts that encode in stereo and ramble on for 2 – 3 hours are going to impossible to upload to Evernote using this workflow too.

If you’re using the workflow and a podcast fails to save to Evernote due to file size, there is a backup plan available: this workflow for Overcast to Dropbox has never failed me. You can use this to save the file to Dropbox and then later save it from there to Evernote on your computer. Yes, it’s annoying and full of homework, but unless Evernote can and/or chooses to fix their iOS extension file size limitation, it’s better than nothing.

Please feel free to contact me on Twitter with any suggestions, comments, or ideas for improvements.

  1.  I already know what the limits are, and I am indeed a premium member, but those limits have nothing to do with this issue at all.