Do you sometimes get tired of YouTube? No, I don’t mean of YouTube’s content – it’s so diverse you can always find something new and exciting to watch – I’m talking about YouTube’s interface, with its suggestions, comments, and clutter. For me, YouTube’s interface is sometimes a reason all by itself to not watch YouTube videos at all – it’s just too messy.
In the past, we’ve covered many browser extensions for a better YouTube experience, extensions that dim the light for better YouTube watching, and others that simply get rid of annoyances and make YouTube better. These are all browser extensions that take the existing interface and tweak it around to it’s not as annoying, but did you know YouTube’s interface is not a must to enjoy YouTube videos? Heck, even a browser is not always a must. Wondering how? Check out this list of alternative interfaces and ways to watch YouTube. Happy watching!
Desktube [No Longer Available]
Desktube is a YouTube viewer for desktop, iOS, and Web, and provides an alternative experience to the one you get on YouTube. You can use Desktube anonymously, or log in with your Google account to like, comment, etc. Desktube comes with its own built-in search, so you don’t have to go through YouTube at all – you can simply launch Desktube and find your daily dose of videos. It also supports playlists, subscriptions and favorites (requires a log in), and group viewing for when you want to watch YouTube videos with friends. If you opt for the iOS or desktop version (requires Adobe AIR), you don’t even need a browser to enjoy your YouTube videos.
Toogles is a super-fast and minimalist alternative interface for YouTube, with a touch of Modern (Metro) UI feeling. When I say it’s super-fast, I really mean it. This is probably the fastest way to watch YouTube I’ve seen to date, with a beautiful and useful interface to boot. The main page offers trending videos in various categories, but you can also search for specific videos, which load instantly. The viewing interface for individual videos is, you guessed it, fast. There are no comments, but you can choose to view related videos (or hide them), and view the video’s information (which you can also hide). If you’re often running out of patience waiting for YouTube to load, this is a must-try. There’s also a Chrome extension.
On paper, ViewPure is a YouTube viewer that offers some interesting options on top of simple YouTube viewing. In reality, none of ViewPure’s extra options actually work, but it managed to squeeze through on this list because its main function does work: minimalistic YouTube viewing. Copy and paste any URL or video ID from YouTube into ViewPure, and watch it on a white screen with no comments, suggestions, or other distractions. You can try playing with the extra options such as custom URL, password protection, and background color, but for me these didn’t work at all. The provided bookmarklet also returned a warning instead of a video. You can, however, toggle between a white and black background while already watching the video on ViewPure.
YTInstant is a great place to search for videos if you’re looking for a quick fix and not something specific. It excels in taking your query and instantly getting search results that match it, before you even finish typing. Start typing a word, and see YouTube results change and form as you type. When you finish typing, YTInstant will immediately start playing the first result for this query on YouTube, and display the next ones on the sidebar. There are no comments, and the interface is pretty minimalistic compared to YouTube. You can easily share a link to your search, embed the video, or share it on social networks.
This is a really neat way to watch YouTube videos without using a browser. Many don’t know this, but you can actually watch almost any YouTube video on VLC player – a free cross-platform player. In order to use VLC to watch YouTube videos, all you need is the video URL without all the junk appended at the end (like www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ak4950FQX8, for example). Now open VLC, and go to Media –> Open Network Stream, paste the URL and click Play. Your video should start playing in VLC.
Make sure your URL is http and not https, otherwise this trick will not work.
XMBC is another way you can watch YouTube videos outside your browser, and even on your TV. XBMC is a free media player, or media center if you wish, that comes with plenty of cool add-ons you can try. One of these add-ons is for YouTube, and enables you to watch any YouTube video in your XBMC media center. Installing the add-on is simple, and there’s not much to setting it up. Read this simple guide on how to set up XBMC to play your YouTube videos, and you’re all set.
Looking for more alternative ways to watch YouTube videos? These are not the only ones. Here are 10 different ways to browse, watch and enjoy YouTube videos.
Know of some more we’ve missed? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!