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Watch the MrExcel Video Podcast on a Windows PC

Podcasting is the coolest new trend in computers.

But you don't need to own an iPod nor do you need to own a Macintosh to enjoy podcasts. In fact, the Podcast experience is better on a computer, like the computer that you are reading this on right now. It can seem daunting to dip into the Apple world - it took me weeks before I could figure out how to watch video on iTunes. I am going to get you up and running on your PC in less than 15 minutes. And - once you are set up, you will be able to subscribe to new TV and radio shows that are being produced just for the podcast crowd.

If you are already iTunes savvy, just drag this chicklet to iTunes and you are done. Otherwise, read on.

To reiterate, understand these points:
  • This works fine on a Windows PC
  • It is FREE
  • After you are done, you can get my 2 minute daily video podcast, but also choose from hundreds of other video and audio shows that can be downloaded automatically each week.
  • You don't need an iPod. You don't need a Mac.
  • You do need a PC with audio capabilities. Otherwise, it will be like watching TV with the Mute on.
  • Downloading a show is like downloading a MP3 file from Napster - it is definitely better on a high speed connection.
New! You can search the Audio of my podcast:
Why Podcasting?
My friend Jerry turned me on to podcasting 3-4 months ago. Jerry is from California. He is in to Macs. He loves music. He is hip and always aware of upcoming trends. At that point, podcasts were audio, and I couldn't imagine teaching Excel in a radio format. Then, after the July taping at Call for Help, I was having a sandwich at Fridays in the Toronto airport, and these guys next to me were coming back from an Apple conference in Toronto. We started sharing stories, and I mentioned that I was just on Call for Help. These guys are from California, and they love Leo Laporte, not because of his L.A. radio show, but because his "This Week in Tech" Podcast is the number one podcast in all of iTunes. I was kind of surprised, that someone knew Leo just because of his podcast. Then, Amber and Mikey at Call for Help started to produce a video podcast. Now, for the first couple weeks, I didn't realize that iTunes would show video, so I stupidly just listened to their TV show. Mikey showed me how to get the video (I will show you below) and I was hooked. At night, I turn on the PC, open iTunes, click Update, and iTunes downloads the new episodes to my PC. Later, when I choose to watch them (or listen to them), they are waiting for me. Then, in September, a camera broke at the studio. While they were waiting to fix it, Leo and I went across the street for a sandwich. I asked him about the TWIT podcast. He suggested the idea of an Excel podcast. I bought some equipment, worked on it, ran the results past Leo in October and he refined the idea to a daily 2 minute dose of Excel. As we were just finishing the first podcast last week, Apple announced a new iPod with video capabilities. I think people will flock to the video podcasting market now. Get your iTunes set up, and you will be able to start watching all sorts of free videos.

It is TV, but on your own time I love to watch Call for Help, but it airs during the day while I am at work. So - I have to remember to TiVo it or set the VCR. Sometimes the TiVo whacks out and forgets to record (OK, so it is probably user error...). It is pretty hard to TiVo radio shows. But with PodCasts, you can listen on your own time. The computer will download the shows, then, listen when you want. I download podcasts to my laptop and listen to audio in the car on the way to appointments or watch video when I am out of the office.

Why iTunes? Downloading video to your PC is bandwidth-intensive. Video podcasters have chosen the MP4 format because it is a smaller file size. As far as I can tell, MP4 is an Apple Computer thing - the easiest way to create MP4 with with a program from Apple. The odds are that your computer right now can not play an MP4 stream. I recommend using iTunes because (a) It will support the MP4 format, (2) It is really easy to subscribe, and (3) it is completely free. iTunes only keeps the last 50 episodes in their directory. If you would like to find older episodes, visit the Podcast Blog where all episodes are archived with descriptions.

What will be on the MrExcel Podcasts?
One tip a day, directly from Learn Excel 97-2007 from MrExcel or occassionally a tip from one of my other books. My goal is to take up just two minutes of your time, but some tips might stretch a bit longer or shorter. For a directory of the first 600 episodes of the Learn Excel from MrExcel video podcasts go to http://www.mrexcel.com/excel_video_training.html.

Step 1: Download iTunes for Your PC
Browse to http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/ to download iTunes. Review the system requirements. Give them your e-mail address. Click the Download iTunes - Free button.

If you are asked, choose to Save the file to your desktop.

Get a cup of coffee while iTunes downloads.

Step 2: Install iTunes
Find the iTunes Setup icon on your desktop and double-click to start the installation process.

Choose your Language.

Wait for the InstallShield Wizard to begin. You will eventually get to this screen. Choose Next.

Read the agreement, click Next. Read the message. Click Next. I still want to use Windows Media Player to play my other audio files, so I unchecked the box to have iTunes be the default player.

Click Next to accept the installation location. Then they show you an ad for the iPod. As you click Next, wonder to yourself, "How many times HAVE I had to click Next so far?". Or, ponder if Apple is making fun of how hard everything is in Windows. I am sure Apple people don't even have to click Next once...

Finally, the install starts. iTunes is installed. QuickTime 7.0.3 is installed. Even if you have an older version of Quicktime, you want this new version for the MP4 support. After a few minutes, the install is done. Click Finish.

You will have two new icons on your desktop. Double-click the iTunes icon to start iTunes.

You will have to click to accept the license agreement again. Then click Next here.

The program wants to search for music on your hard drive. Since I am only using iTunes for Podcasts, I unchecked these options and clicked Next.

Again, I am not using iTunes for music, so I chose No here.

And, I don't want to go to the music store, so I chose to go to the Library.

iTunes will open to a blank Library window. Along the left hand side, choose Podcasts.

The first time that you choose Podcasts, this message will display. We will get to the Podcast Directory in a few steps, but for now, check the box and choose OK.

Step 3: (old Way) Manually subscribe to the MrExcel Podcast
When the MrExcel podcast was brand new new, I had not been added to the directory yet. At the time, you could have subscribed manually. From the iTunes menu, select Advanced - Subscribe to Podcast....

In the URL window, copy and paste this URL:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/LearnExcelFromMrexcelPodcast

Click the OK button.

iTunes will get the podcast information.

It will then automatically start downloading the most recent episode.

OR - Step 3 (New Way) Browse the Podcast Directory to subscribe
In the Podcast directory, look along the left navigation, all the way at the bottom for the Search All Podcasts search box. Type Excel and click the purple magnifying glass.

Select the icon for Learn Excel from MrExcel.

From the next screen, you can either opt to subscribe or get certain episodes. If you subscribe, the most recent episode and all future episodes will be downloaded. If you use the Get Episode button, you can download old episodes. Here is the subscribe button:

Here is the Get Episode button. It is way out on the right. You might have to scroll right to see it.

Step 4: Quick tips to understand the iTunes Interface. How to see past shows. How to watch video. How to watch Video in full screen mode.
This is the collapsed view of the Podcast. In the collapsed view, you see the name of the podcast, the runtime of the most recent episode, and a description of the Podcast in general. This is not the description of the various episodes.

Notice the arrow pointing to the right next to the word Learn in the Podcast column.

It is not intuitive, but click that arrow to open the episode guide for the Podcast. Now, you will see individual episodes. You will see which ones are on your computer. You can read the descriptions and get the ones that are of interest to you.

To play an episode, click the episode and press the Play icon.

You will hear audio. The theme song starts to play. The video appears in a tiny window in the lower left. The video controls are just below the video. This button hides the video. Generally, you don't want to press this button.

If your video is hidden, press this button to get it back.

Once you have the video playing, press the full screen button to enlarge it to fill your screen.

Since the video is designed for quicker downloading and the resolution of the iPod, it is at low resolution and looks a little wobbly at full screen. To go back to the iTunes screen with the video in small format, press the Esc Key.

You can also drag the small version of the screen and drag it into the center of iTunes. This will display the podcast at 640x480, which is the size that the podcast was originally generated.

Step 5: Browse the iTunes Podcast Store for other Free Podcasts
Next - you will want to find other podcasts. Near the bottom of the screen is a link to a Podcast Directory. Click this arrow to go to the podcast store.

You are taken to the front of the Podcast store. On the right side are the top 10 podcasts. It was just a week ago that NPR started posting a number of podcasts, and they have already taken over the top slot. Still, you should be able to find This Week in Tech in the top 10.

You will see a list of recent TWIT episodes. There is a logo for the show, title, episode count, category, language, and the all important Subscribe button. Since this show is free, you can subscribe without have an Apple Store account. Just choose the Subscribe button.

Click Subscribe to acknowledge that you want the most recent episode.

You are taken back to your podcast library and TWIT starts to download.

Go back to the Podcast Directory by clicking the arrow at the bottom of the screen again. On the right side of the screen, there is a navigation bar with the top 20 podcasts. At the bottom of this is a link to the top 100 podcasts. Click the link. As of today - October 16 - there are four podcasts by Call for Help personalities in the top 100. NPR has 15 podcasts in the top 100 just a week after their launch.

Press the Back button to go back to the Podcast Store.

In a couple minutes of browsing, I found podcasts for Curling, Skydiving, Climbers, Biking.

My Favorite Podcasts - CommandN and 2 Minute PhotoShop Tricks
To find more podcasts, follow these steps. First, click the Browse button for Inside the Music Store.

Make sure that the Genre points to Podcasts on the left. Then, choose a category such as Technology in the middle.

There will be a pause while you wait for the list to populate. The list is generally alphabetic, but some smart people started their podcast with a dash, so these show first. CommandN is a weekly 30 minute video podcast hosted by Amber MacArthur from Call for Help. Scroll down to the CommandN episodes. They have two feeds - a MP4 feed and a higher resolution feed. Subscribe to either one. Look, right below there is the awesome Computer American radio show - wow - there is so much available here.

Back in the Podcast library, Command N will show up as one line. Click on the arrow pointing to the right near the word Command in the library. The entry will expand to give you a history of their episodes. You can read the episode descriptions and decide if you want to download any of the past episodes.

Another great podcast (just audio for now) is 2 Minute Photoshop Tricks by Kent Conklin. In 2-5 minutes, Kent will teach you cool things about Photoshop.

Step 6 - Getting New Episodes
If you are going to be away from your computer for a few minutes, open iTunes and choose the Update button to check for new episodes of your subscribed podcasts.

There you have it - a very long introduction to the world of iTunes and Podcasts. Have fun!

This tip was originally published on October 16, 2005. It was updated on September 25, 2009 to link to the Learn Excel podcast blog and directory of MrExcel podcast videos. The permanent URL for this page is http://www.mrexcel.com/tip106.shtml.

MrExcel.com Consulting can be hired to implement this concept, or many other cool applications, with your data.

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