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Do you love YouTube playlists, but wish you could watch them outside your browser? You can use VLC for the job, thanks to a simple extension. Here’s how.

If you want to watch YouTube outside the browser, you’ve got options. There’s Minitube, for example: it’s a native YouTube player for Mac, Windows and Linux MiniTube - An Entirely New Way to Watch YouTube [Mac & Linux] MiniTube - An Entirely New Way to Watch YouTube [Mac & Linux] Read More that lets you search for something and watch a continuous stream of search results. Apps like this are cool, but there are other options.

It’s not commonly known, but VLC can play YouTube videos – all you need to do is click “File”, then “Open Network”. You’ll see a window like this (my screenshots are from a Mac, but I also tested the process in Windows – it works the same):

vlc-youtube-paste-url

Paste the YouTube URL, as seen here, then hit “Enter” or click “Open”. When you do, the video still start playing.

vlc-youtube-playing

So far so good, but what happens if you paste a playlist URL? By default you’ll only get the first video. That’s where the trick comes in.

Download And Install The Extension

First things first: ensure that VLC is up-to-date. Once you’ve done that, download the YouTube Playlist parser from addons.videolan.org. When you click the “download” button, you’ll be taken to a text file. Don’t panic: click “Save As” in your menu. Ensure the file extension (the letters after the final dot in the file’s name) is .lua, then drag the file to the proper folder. Where depends on your system, here’s the list from the site:

  • Windows (all users): %ProgramFiles%\VideoLAN\VLC\lua\playlist\
  • Windows (current user only): %APPDATA%\vlc\lua\playlist\
  • Linux (all users): /usr/lib/vlc/lua/playlist/
  • Linux (current user only): ~/.local/share/vlc/lua/playlist/
  • Mac OS X (all users): /Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/share/lua/playlist/

Windows and Linux users, this shouldn’t be hard. Mac users who aren’t aware: you can add files to the inside of Mac Apps, which is required for finding the directory above. Simply right/Control-click VLC in Applications, then click “Show Package Contents”.

vlc-show-package-contents

Once you’re in, finding the above folder is simple.

Play A Playlist

vlc-youtube-copy-link-address

Ready to watch something? Find a YouTube playlist URL. You can usually find these on the page of your favorite channel under “Playlists”. A proper URL will include “&list”, as seen here:

vlc-youtube-andlist

Paste this URL into the Open Network window, just like we did before. You’ll soon see all the vidoes in the playlist:

vlc-all-videos

The first video will start playing in a couple of seconds. Lean back and enjoy. This is particularly great if you have VLC installed on a device connected to your TV, or a second monitor on which you like to watch things as you work.

More VLC More Tricks

This is far from the only trick you can teach VLC. Tim outlined 6 cool VLC tips and tricks 6 Cool VLC Tips & Tricks You Might Not Know About 6 Cool VLC Tips & Tricks You Might Not Know About VideoLan's VLC media player is a real box of tricks and is just as effective on a Windows operating system as it is on Mac or Linux. Those of you who are already using VLC... Read More , outlining everything from managing podcasts to using video effects. The ASCII art is a highlight:

Saikat went even deeper, showing you 7 top secret VLC features 7 Top Secret Features Of The Free VLC Media Player 7 Top Secret Features Of The Free VLC Media Player That VLC pretty much plays everything that you throw at it is old news. It is also a media genie when it comes to other things apart from playing movies. We looked at some of... Read More . Turns out you can use VLC to record from your webcam, and automatically shutdown your computer when a video is over. Neat.

Know any other great tricks, or a better way to watch YouTube videos outside the browser? Share below.

  1. Jostein
    May 23, 2016 at 12:17 am

    I'd like all youtube videoes to automatically open in VLC without always copying and pasting the video URL. Shouldn't be a huge problem to hack around, but im not a hacker so anyone out there that know of this? Could be kindof neat!

  2. Anthony
    March 20, 2015 at 3:48 am

    Also check out SMPlayer and SMTube ... it's basically VLC and MiniTube rolled into one arrangement. SMPlayer will play your local audio/video files, as well as stream YouTube videos (but not playlists as far as I know) via SMTube. Available for Windows and Linux only.

    SMPlayer: http://smplayer.sourceforge.net/
    SMTube: http://smtube.sourceforge.net/

  3. asfdsfsf
    March 14, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Doesn't work at all. You just get the message that VLC can't find the "file" https://youtube.com... etc.
    Why do people put time into writing idiotic garbage like this? VLC is dead for like 10 years and NEVER did anything good...

    • Nikolai Stemmer
      May 17, 2015 at 10:01 am

      First: no it isn't. 2nd: open an issue and the guys from vlc will try to fix it .....

  4. Corbin D.
    March 29, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Does it allow you to save the playlists for future reference?

    • Justin P
      March 31, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      You could, after loading the playlist, use VLC's "Save Playlist" function. I haven't tested this, but there's no reason it shouldn't work.

  5. Tom
    March 20, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Youtube's new playlist layout makes it so VLC can only load the first 80 videos of a playlist.
    Anyway to work around this do you think?
    It does not get a new link when I expand the playlist and I can't find a fix for this.

    • Justin P
      March 20, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      I don't know yet, but I'll let you know if I figure anything out...

  6. JohnDoe
    December 24, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Doesn't work for https i believe, at least i tried a couple times and taking the s out the URL solved the issue

  7. G
    December 3, 2013 at 7:49 am

    I didn't know you could play Youtube videos directly within VLC. I always used to download the video, then play it in VLC.

  8. Mark Print
    November 28, 2013 at 12:13 am

    Troubleshooting:
    If the playlist appear but the videos don't start, you may have an outdated version of the script getting the video from youtube. You can get the last version of "youtube.lua" from here:
    https://raw.github.com/videolan/vlc/master/share/lua/playlist/youtube.lua
    -> delete the file name "youtube.lua" or "youtube.luac" and replace it with the new one

  9. Fernando B
    November 27, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Works well. But why do some playlists load and others not?

    • Justin P
      November 27, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      I've no idea why some playlists don't work – can you think of an example? I know some videos are protected, were the playlists in question music videos per chance?

  10. Joel L
    November 27, 2013 at 12:50 am

    That's a pretty cool feature but it's not enough to convince me to move back to VLC.

    • Justin P
      November 27, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      What do you use, Joel?

    • Joel L
      November 28, 2013 at 1:07 am

      I've been using Media Player Classic - Home Cinema for a few years now. Every once in a while I'll try some new players, but nothing yet can match MPC-HC's combination of lightweight, speed, and performance.

  11. Ramy Mabrouk
    November 26, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Is it available for Android version?

    • Justin P
      November 26, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      I can't seem to find a way to add these files to the Android version, unfortunately. Would love to be wrong...

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