If you watch YouTube videos often, you may have developed some pretty strong preferences regarding how you like YouTube to be. Being a huge Google service, YouTube is not exactly a flexible, customizable service, but with some work and some handy add-ons, you can get rid of some YouTube annoyances, and get a YouTube experience that better matches the way you use it.
In the past, we’ve told you about ways to achieve a more cinematic YouTube experience, and we’ve listed some handy Firefox add-ons that enhance your YouTube experience. Today’s it’s Chrome’s turn. Do you use YouTube mainly to listen to music? Do you like browsing around for interesting videos? Or maybe you have a favorite list of subscriptions you stick to? No matter how you use YouTube, there are ways to make it even better than it is with useful YouTube Chrome extensions.
YouTube is a great music source, and while it’s pretty easy to find or create music playlists to listen to, the task becomes even easier with this simple extension. ChromeTunes turns YouTube into a bona fide music player, taking away the videos, the comments, the suggestions, and even the need to load youtube.com. After installing ChromeTunes, click on the red play button to start listening to YouTube music.
The ChromeTunes player has two parts: the player itself, which you can see above, and the settings layer, where you can add or remove playlists, search YouTube, and more. The player itself comes loaded with two sample playlists which you can easily move between using the bottom playlist switcher. The player comes complete with all the usual options such as repeat, shuffle, reload and share. You can also view more video information such as views count, likes, and more.
To add new playlists, either click the search and play button on the bottom right, or click the cogwheel button on the top right. From here, you can search YouTube for more playlists and add them to ChromeTunes.
Hovering over the extension’s button will reveal the name of the song currently playing, the artist, and the song’s length.
So you’re watching your daily dose of YouTube videos, going from one video to the next using the ever-present right sidebar. YouTube’s sidebar is a pretty good source of related and recommended videos, but as good as it is, you often find yourself clicking on videos that look promising, only to find out they’re not really what you were looking for. Sounds familiar? YouTube Preview is a handy little add-on that can help you find out more about a video just from looking at the thumbnail.
The first thing you’ll notice are the colorful green and red bars under each thumbnail. These are indicators of how popular a video is, and represent how many people liked this video out of all the users who’ve rated it. If you hover over the thumbnail, the thumbnail itself will start playing, and you’ll see a small walkthrough of the video. While it’s not like watching the full video, it’s much more informative than just seeing a static thumbnail.
Want to create your very own new and improved YouTube? YouTube Options has everything you need to upgrade and personalize your YouTube experience. With a few checkmarks in the right boxes, watching a video can turn from the regular page you’re used to, to something like this:
That’s right, no comments, so suggestions, to counters – not even a white background. With YouTube Options, you can control every aspect of YouTube you can possibly think of, from ads, annotations and comments to playback, background and layout. To start playing around, access the add-on’s options through Chrome’s Extensions menu.
And best of all, YouTube options doesn’t work solely with YouTube – you can apply your favorite settings to other video websites such as Vimeo, Dailymotion, Metacafe and others.
Are you a subscription fiend? If you have many subscriptions on YouTube, keeping track of them all can become somewhat tiresome. YouTube Video Deck is a Chrome app that brings all your YouTube subscriptions under one roof – sort of like Google Reader for YouTube subscriptions. After logging in, you can add all or only some of your subscriptions, and receive notifications when a new video is uploaded.
You can set up the layout to your liking, and check the app every time you’re bored for the newest fixes from your favorite YouTube accounts.
The app is ad-supported, and you can choose to see ads either at the bottom or on the left. If you want to get rid of the ads, you can buy the Pro version for 1.89€ (approximately $2.50).
If you’re not using Chrome, Video Deck is also available as a Web app.
YouTube being as popular as it is, there are endless ways to customize it, upgrade it and generally make it better. Have a favorite way to enhance your YouTube experience? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!
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