How to Listen to Lots of Lectures and Sermons and YouTube Videos

I see many interesting lectures and interviews on YouTube that I know I will never, ever have time for. I simply cannot sit in front of a computer and watch a video. Email beckons too hard. But I can listen to these videos on the bus, while doing yard work, and at many other odd times that add up fast. I listened to about five 30-minute textual criticism lectures (on more than double speed) from Dan Wallace last night while cleaning out our family car.

I listen to lots and lots of sermons and lectures and interviews and podcasts. However, I subscribe to only two podcasts: Lexicon Valley (with the inimitable John McWhorter) and Thinking in Public (Al Mohler). (I am testing out the History of English podcast right now, too.) Everything else I listen to is some kind of one-off instance.

I’ve refined my system to make it maximally easy to take any YouTube video or MP3 and get it into my podcast app. So though I’ve posted on this before, I have now reached MP3 nirvana and I have to share it with you.

I actually have two systems, one for MP3s I download directly, and another for YouTube videos. The two systems converge, as you’ll see.

Each will take some setting up, and my instructions are geared for Mac, but here’s what I do.

Preliminary Steps for Each System

  1. Sign up for Justcast, a rock-solid app which creates a podcast feed from a Dropbox folder you choose. A little bird told me that they might give you their service for $1/mo. if you tell them you’re only making your own personal podcast. But the free service may be sufficient for you.
  2. Subscribe to your own personal podcast, generated by Justcast, within (iOS), Pocket Cast (Android) or whatever podcast app you prefer. I listen to most things at least double speed.

Now let’s get some MP3s into that folder so you can listen to them in Justcast.

System 1: Downloaded MP3s

  1. Set up a Folder Action in Automator that will automatically move audio files to that Justcast folder. Here are the instructions I mostly followed, but here’s what my workflow ended up looking like after I modified it for my needs. (Don’t forget to turn on Folder Actions.)
  2. Anytime you download an MP3 into your Downloads folder, it will be automatically moved into your Justcast folder and show up in your personal podcast feed.

Now let’s get a lecture off of YouTube:

System 2: YouTube Lectures

  1. Copy the URL for a YouTube video you want to listen to.
  2. Paste the link into the free app 4KYouTube to MP3 (I have the app set to produce low-quality audio, because I don’t want huge files).
  3. Set 4KYouTube to MP3 to automatically send the resulting audio file to Dropbox/Apps/Justcast.


Postliminary Steps

Every so often I move all the MP3s out of my Justcast folder and into an archive location so I can find them again if I need to—and sometime I do, like if I want to cite an illustration from one of them or transcribe a portion of it for use in an article or sermon or lecture of my own.

I got an older iPhone but spent a little extra to get 64GB of space so that I could fit as many files in feed as I needed to (plus audio books, for which I use Audible). The main thing I use my phone for is listening to stuff. I highly recommend Bluetooth headphones, and Sony has some nice ones on sale today only for Prime day.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

1 thought on “How to Listen to Lots of Lectures and Sermons and YouTube Videos”

  1. While I am quite late in this reply, I just want to thank you for the link to the program that converts a You Tube video into MP3 audio. I have used it with great delight and success. To quote a blogger we all know and love, “this is gold.” I have been able to put the audio from the Asia Center for Advanced Christian Studies on my phone and listen to it in the morning as I take my morning exercise walk. What a great blessing. I actually purposefully walked a little more this AM so I could keep listening to Dr. Collins. I greatly appreciate that you put up the link for this site.

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