YouTube was redesigned, updated, and upgraded many times throughout the years. And yet, it still offers a subpar experience if viewed as “a source for media consumption,” compared to, say, a media player. The site’s interface is designed to increase views and keep the visitor on its pages, not to offer the best media playback functionality. Thankfully, you can use some of the following smartly crafted addons to improve your YouTube watching experience.
1. Enhancer for YouTube
If you like keeping your browser installation clean, lean and mean, with only a minimal selection of addons, and don’t want to install more than one for tweaking YouTube, Enhancer for YouTube (Chrome, Firefox) should be the one to use.
In its Settings page you will find plenty of customization options. For example, in the Toolbar group of options, you can tweak the buttons that appear in a new toolbar Enhancer will add over each YouTube video. Enable the buttons you want available in every video’s overlay.
If you don’t like how every element in YouTube’s pages fights for your attention, improve the “visual priority” of the video with the options in the “Cinema mode” group of options.
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I find Enhancer for YouTube’s support of using an increased playback speed, located in the “Video player” group of options, a lifesaver.
The rest of the settings allow you to tweak how much the active video’s pace will change when rotating the mouse wheel, the default volume for all videos, the automatic removal of ads, etc.
Apart from those, we suggest you also enable:
- Pinning the video player.
- Automatically pausing playback of videos opened in background tabs
- Pausing videos playing in background tabs when a video starts playing in the foreground tab
2. Better Subscriptions for Youtube
Unlike Enhancer for YouTube, which crams a lot of different functions in a single package, Better Subscriptions for YouTube (Chrome, Firefox) specializes in one thing only: improving the “subscriptions” page of YouTube by hiding all watched videos.
Although the add-on doesn’t apply a lot of tweaks to YouTube, the simple changes it makes lead to using the site in a very different way than without it.
After it’s installed and activated, Better Subscriptions for YouTube adds to the popular streaming site a switch that can toggle the display of watched videos. One click on it, and every video you have already watched that keeps showing up in your feed will magically disappear.
Better Subscriptions for YouTube uses YouTube’s data about the videos you’ve watched, so you don’t need to set up anything to start using it. Just install and enjoy the update.
Apart from this toggle, the add-on will allow you to mark some (or all) videos as watched manually and also marks as hidden any video you’re watching. As a bonus, it hides and collapses empty sections in YouTube’s pages (like “Today, Yesterday,” etc.) to offer a cleaner experience while using the site.
3. YouTube Timestamps
YouTube TimeStamps (Chrome, Firefox) is more of a funny little experiment than a handy extension since its only purpose is to display comments that have a timestamp about the active video in an overlay over it.
Theoretically, it can make watching videos on YouTube feel like a more communal experience. Practically, not many people use timestamps in their comments, so it doesn’t make much of a difference for the majority of the videos on the popular streaming platform.
4. AdBlocker for YouTube™
If all you want out of Enhancer for YouTube is the ad-blocking capability without the extra fat, look into AdBlocker for YouTube (Chrome, Firefox) instead. It is simpler to use and does what it promises without altering the “pure” YouTube experience in any way.
5. Turn Off the Lights for YouTube™
Although this functionality, too, is included in Enhancer for YouTube, if you don’t care for the extra features, you might like how Turn off the Lights for YouTube (Chrome, Firefox) turns watching videos on the popular streaming site into a more “cinematic” experience, by merely “dimming” everything around them. This is not the same as enabling dark mode on YouTube, though the implementation is similar.
Lastly, if all you want is to watch your videos in peace, you can simply watch YouTube video playlists in VLC and skip all the advertisements and distraction.