Tired of how YouTube promotes mainstream media? Or how it removes videos without warning and doesn’t let you listen to podcasts in the background? With the right tools, you can fix all of these YouTube failures and limitations.
Just because YouTube is the biggest video sharing platform in the world doesn’t mean it is free of flaws.
If anything, the list of YouTube annoyances lengthens as it tries to be a place for everyone. This often means it has to kowtow to the demands of big advertisers and brands while sacrificing the experience for the user.
But don’t worry, enterprising users and developers are providing solutions to any restrictions YouTube imposes.
1. De-Mainstream YouTube (Chrome, Firefox): Remove Mainstream Media from YouTube
It’s not your imagination, you do tend to see more content from mainstream media on YouTube these days. In fact, YouTube is often criticized for sidelining independent channels (which made the platform so big in the first place) and promoting mainstream media instead.
De-Mainstream YouTube is a browser extension that hides these mainstream channels. There is a long list of channels from different countries, including everything from BBC to Fox News. Apart from traditional media, you can hide new media like Vox as well as talk show channels like The Late Show or The Daily Show.
Through the browser extension, you can choose which ones you want to block or allow, or click the simple Select All button to hide them all. If a channel you don’t want to see isn’t on the list yet, you can request the developers by going to the extension’s GitHub page and submitting suggestions as a new issue.
2. PocketTube (Chrome, Firefox, Android, iOS): Manage YouTube Subscriptions
Once you find trending and awesome YouTube videos , you should subscribe to the channel for more of that. Over time, your subscriptions will pile up. But YouTube offers no easy way to manage and organize subscriptions. So that’s why you need PocketTube.
This is one of those apps that you think YouTube should buy and make it an official part of the interface. With PocketTube, you can create groups in subscriptions and add channels to them. So all your sports subscriptions are in one group, cooking channels in another, and so on. The process of adding channels is as simple as it can be, and makes the app easy to set up and get running.
Once you’ve got your groups, PocketTube makes things even better while browsing YouTube. You can filter these groups, search within them, or switch them on and off so that you get exactly the content you’re browsing for. A tremendously handy switch hides videos you’ve already watched.
The extension offers other ways to make the browsing interface better, like hiding popup windows when hovering on channels. And you can sync your preferences with the PocketTube mobile app for browsing YouTube while on the move.
3. ListenBox (Web): Turn YouTube Into Podcast
The YouTube app won’t let you listen to a video in the background while on your phone unless you have upgraded to YouTube Premium. But with so many podcasts, lectures, audiobooks, and other great audio content on YouTube, this gets really annoying. ListenBox solves this by turning YouTube videos into audio for your podcast feed.
All you have to do is copy-paste the URL of a YouTube video, channel, or playlist into the box provided. Then, copy your unique podcast RSS feed and add it to your favorite podcast app. While you can use the website without an account, it’s best used by registering so that the feed syncs across devices.
ListenBox has a couple of cool integrations for Android and iOS that add your RSS feed to the Share menu. So when you come across a cool video and want to turn it into a podcast, share it to the ListenBox link and it’ll be automatically added to your podcast feed.
ListenBox is free for adding individual videos and fetches up to 50 videos from channels or playlists. If you want it to fetch more than 50 videos, you’ll need to subscribe to a paid account, which also gets updates for new videos.
4. Floating for YouTube (Chrome): Pop-out Panel for YouTube
Sideplayer was one of the best Chrome extensions for YouTube, letting you pop out any video and see it in a floating panel while browsing other tabs. While Sideplayer is no longer available, the Floating for YouTube extension is a worthy replacement.
The Chrome Web Store is filled with several options for this feature but Floating for YouTube does a couple of things really well. Click the icon and the pop-out panel is ready in a jiffy. It stays on top, so when you change tab windows, you don’t have to call it back up. And it’s easy to move around to any part of the screen.
The player also includes basic native controls for YouTube, which several others don’t. You can play/pause, control the volume, enable/disable closed captions, add it to Watch Later, and even share the link. Floating for YouTube doesn’t do anything extraordinary. It delivers the basics perfectly, and that’s what makes it worth using again and again.
Download: Floating for YouTube for Chrome (Free)
5. Deleted Video Finder (Chrome): Find Removed YouTube Videos
Sometimes, you’ll come across a YouTube link while browsing the web. But when you click it, you see only a black screen with a red logo with an emoticon, and a message saying, “This video was removed.” It’s frustrating, right? But well, there’s a way to still view it.
You see, nothing gets deleted on the internet, ever. Websites like Wayback Machine catalog everything ever uploaded online to create a virtual backup of how the internet looked. And one enterprising developer made a neat YouTube extension to find these videos through the Wayback Machine.
After installing the Deleted Video Finder, when you come across any deleted video, right-click it and choose Find Video. It’ll instantly launch a Google search for that URL, as well as another tab with a link to the Wayback Machine archive of the clip. Pretty cool, right?
Download: Deleted Video Finder for YouTube for Chrome (Free)
Now Fix YouTube Recommendations
These apps and tools help to get rid of common YouTube fails, but there’s a bigger problem that needs a deeper fix. If you often find that YouTube doesn’t give good recommendations, you aren’t alone.
YouTube has so much great content but its recommendation algorithm makes some flawed assumptions about you. But you can work to make this algorithm better and get rid of irrelevant YouTube recommendations .
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