Hack YouTube: Kill the Annoyances, Improve Your Viewing

Joel Lee 29-05-2013

hack youtubeYouTube is a revolutionary service, but that doesn’t mean that it’s without its flaws. There are many features on the site that are designed for convenience, other features that are meant to satiate legal requirements, and then there are features that are plain missing. Here are some ways to easily spruce up your YouTube experience.

Despite the Hack YouTube title, there’s nothing illegal going on here. Most of these changes are done through plugins/addons/extensions and one of them is even right there on the site. So have no fear, you can have a more user-friendly YouTube in a matter of minutes – legally!

Disable Annotations

Perhaps the largest annoyance in YouTube – other than those pesky ads – is the proliferation of annotations. You know the text boxes that pop up at random points in videos, often coercing you to subscribe or comment or give the clip a thumbs up? Yeah, those things. It seems like most videos are flooded with annotations, enough so that the original video can barely be seen under it all.

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One way to deal with this is to disable annotations on a video-to-video basis, but if you want a more global fix, YouTube actually has an account feature that lets you disable annotations by default. Just go to your Account Playback settings and uncheck the “Show Annotations on Videos” option.

Note: This feature requires you to have a YouTube account, which is essentially a Google account. If you’re one who wants to avoid Google at all costs How To Quit Using Google So what can you do when Google encompasses a ton of products and services all around the world and you want to escape their control? When complaints and protests don’t work, the best way to... Read More , then this solution may be out of your reach.

ProxMate [Chrome, Firefox] [No Longer Available]

ProxMate isn’t actually a YouTube-specific addon, but it will most certainly alleviate a lot of frustration on your end if you experience regionally blocked videos. Videos can be blocked for many reasons and there are many methods of unblocking regional videos 2 Effective Ways to Access Region-Blocked Videos Without a VPN Internet users outside of the United States are blocked from accessing the wealth of streaming video and music content available to Americans. Even Americans are deprived of international services like BBC iPlayer. Faced with this,... Read More , but ProxMate handles all of it out of the box through proxies.

how to hack youtube

This is just a great plugin in general. Its efficacy doesn’t stop at YouTube; it can also unblock content on Grooveshark, Pandora, MTV, Turntable.FM, Hulu, and Google Play. If ProxMate ever gives you any trouble, you can manually set a different proxy to use.

YouTube Options [Chrome, Safari, Opera]

Hack YouTube: Kill the Annoyances, Improve Your Viewing youtube hacks youtubeoptions

YouTube Options is an all-in-one plugin that can utterly transform your YouTube experience if you allow it. In fact, it’s one of the extensions on our Best Chrome Extensions The Best Chrome Extensions A list of only the best extensions for Google Chrome, including suggestions from our readers. Read More page. With it, you can:

  • Disable ads, annotations, and auto-play.
  • Set default video quality and size.
  • Pre-buffer videos with Flash.
  • Automatic looping of video playback.
  • Easy video controls using the mouse scrollwheel.
  • And much more.

The author of this plugin comes right out and says that these “features” are actually just workarounds based on YouTube’s architecture, so when YouTube updates their pages, some features are bound to break. Thankfully, the author is quick with his updates as long as you let him know when something stops working.

Note: For some reason YouTube Options does not offer a Firefox alternative and I’m not sure why that is. For now, if you want to use this plugin, you’ll need to use a different browser.

SmartVideo For YouTube [Firefox] [No Longer Available]

For those of you with subpar and shoddy Internet connections, buffering can be a real issue. The worst part of it all – at least if you live in the US – is that most of the time you can’t even upgrade to another ISP. A better Internet connection would result in faster and cleaner YouTube video playback, but alas, that’s often not a viable option.

how to hack youtube

SmartVideo is a Firefox addon that not only improves buffer quality and video playback, but offers a few other options to maximize your video quality. It’s not as comprehensive as YouTube Options above, but it’s still something:

  • Set when videos should play: on page load, at a specific buffer percentage, or just let SmartVideo automatically decide when it would be best.
  • An option to not load any video data until you click on it.
  • Sound notifications when the buffer has reached a specified loading percentage.
  • Set a default video quality and size for all YouTube videos.
  • Loop video playback without having to refresh the page.

YouTube Ratings Preview [Chrome, Firefox, Safari]

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve loaded up a YouTube video only to be disappointed. Maybe it wasn’t the kind of video that I was expecting. Maybe it’s a video of such low quality that I’d be better off not seeing it. Maybe there’s even a screamer (or worse, Rick Astley) at the end of the clip.

For the most part, YouTube video ratings are a good indicator of a video’s quality level. I’m sure we could all point out circumstances where a great video didn’t receive the reception it deserved and crappy videos that have over 90% likes. But with YouTube Ratings Preview, you can see a video’s rating even before you view it.

hack youtube

If you have this plugin installed, you’ll see a video’s rating overlaid on top of any thumbnail you see of that video (as long as you’re on the YouTube site, of course). It may seem like a trivial improvement, but trust me, it’s one of those things where you don’t know how useful it is until it’s gone.


YouTube has had nearly a decade to perfect its user interface, but it’s still not there yet and it probably won’t be there for many years yet. Until that day arrives, you can use the options and plugins above to tailor your YouTube experience to your own preferences. Get rid of the annoying features that bother you and go back to enjoying videos once again.

Related topics: Online Video, YouTube.

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  1. Joel Lee
    September 29, 2016 at 1:10 am

    Hey Abram, thank you for the heads up! I've fixed the link. :)

  2. Scott M
    May 30, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I use Holablocker and I'm very happy with the way in which I use and view Youtube.

  3. null
    May 30, 2013 at 7:36 am

    Thanks for the article! (:

  4. aa284b69ed7928bd0b9e8542a3ad4419
    May 30, 2013 at 6:51 am

    Really nice plugins!
    Adblock Plus is my favorite plugin when on YouTube. Removes all those annoying ads

  5. Amir Meta
    May 30, 2013 at 6:47 am

    Great article, thanks Joel i used Hola Unblocker for few sites but with ProxMate i must say that i am thrilled as i really hated the regional sanction on youtube.

    • Joel Lee
      June 1, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      Awesome! Glad you could benefit. :)

  6. Rahul Ganju
    May 30, 2013 at 4:52 am

    good one :)

  7. Esaure
    May 30, 2013 at 3:01 am

    I think that "hacking youtube" is not as good as blocking those annoying ads or video ads preloaded before the video that you want to watch, we have to open our minds and include this guide for those people who can't afford high speeds, makeuseof is being seen all around the world (as proof is my poor english).

    I have installed in firefox the proxytube addon (it is 100% legal).

    How to (get ride of those annoying ads in youtube, legally):

    Content to ad in the hosts files:

  8. Ter
    May 30, 2013 at 1:19 am

    Thank you. Nice information, very useful.

  9. Austin Beatty
    May 30, 2013 at 1:12 am

    Youtube Center is my personal favorite, pretty much all I need.

    • Joel Lee
      June 1, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      Looks great, but too bad it only comes in a userscript variety and not an actual plugin/extension (as far as I know). That would be much more convenient. Thanks for the heads up anyway!

  10. John Parks
    May 29, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Seriously hate the new "only show the first 5 lines" in the RSS feed. Made me unsubscribe from Lifehacker and now you have it also. :(

    • Tina Sieber
      May 30, 2013 at 8:17 am

      Sorry John. We know it's an inconvenience and it's not our intend to annoy readers who read the site via RSS.

      We did this to learn which articles people are actually reading. Unfortunately, it's not possible to get accurate view reports with the feeds served in full format.

      However, we are increasing the excerpt to at least two paragraphs, so you get a better idea what to expect from the article before deciding whether or not to click through.