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Enjoy a streamlined version of YouTube that’s usable from your couch and lets you follow the channels you love, easily. YouTube’s TV version just might be the best way to use the web’s best video site, and most people aren’t aware it even exists.
Longtime YouTube users might remember YouTube XL, Google’s first attempt at bringing YouTube to the big screen. It worked well enough, but the current incarnation – called YouTube TV – is a vast improvement. It’s controllable with just a few buttons, visible far from the TV screen and generally much cleaner than the standard site. And you don’t need to be using a TV to use it – YouTube TV works great in your HTML5 compliant browser of choice.
Google seems to relish messing with the way YouTube works, replacing the frontpage subscriptions with…something. I’m still not really sure what that computer-generated list of “suggested videos” is supposed to be, but I know this: I’m not interested in it. Which is why I was thrilled to find this alternative version of YouTube. It’s designed to be used with a TV remote, but is also perfect in many ways for keyboard-loving desktop users. With a simple way to watch all of your subscribed channels, without even the need to click over to the next video, YouTube’s TV version just might fit your YouTube habits perfectly.
How This Works
To get started simply head to YouTube.com/TV. You’ll see the TV version of YouTube, start with videos trending on YouTube:
Keep in mind that this isn’t really meant for mouse usage, so use the keyboard to browse if you’re on your desktop computer. The arrows and the backspace key are really all you need – arrows to navigate, backspace to go back to the previous screen. Want to search for videos — use the “S” key to open the search box.
Head to your subscriptions and you can watch only the latest videos from the channels you like:
If you’re an active user of the subscriptions function, this is a dream. You can also explore your subscriptions by channel, if you’re so inclined:
Playback takes up the entire screen, meaning you won’t see comments or suggested videos.
It’s an easy way to catch up on your subscriptions, or a channel you’ve fallen behind on – especially given the auto-play feature. When a video is done playing the next video will start playing 5 seconds later, meaning you can catch up on a channel while doing something in another window or away from your computer.
It’s a TV-friendly feature, sure, but I also find it useful on the desktop – my videos can play in the background without the need for me to intervene, and without the possibility of getting lost in the comments.
Your favorites, videos you’ve saved for later and other YouTube features can all also be found here – explore and you’ll find them.
You’ll notice I’m assuming you’ve signed in to your account above. It’s not necessary – you can use the service without doing so, but to get the most out of the system you really should sign in. Doing so is a little weird:
Just open your browser on any device and head to YouTube.com/activate. When there, sign in to your YouTube account (assuming you haven’t already) and enter the code. It’s annoying on the desktop, but a godsend on a TV.
Turn Into A YouTube App
Since discovering YouTube TV, however, I’ve had no interest in them. I’ve made a “YouTube App” using YouTube TV and a SSB. Chrome users in Windows need only create an Application Shortcut, easily found in the settings. Mac users don’t have access to that feature, and as such should check out Fluid instead.
I find YouTube TV running in its own window to be better than any YouTube app I’ve found, but I want to know what you think. Leave your suggestions below.
YouTube is a weirdly wonderful place, but for many what really makes the service great are the subscriptions. For me YouTube is about people I’ve been watching for years, like Vlogbrothers, ZeFrank and CGP Grey. I find channels I love and follow them fiercely – something YouTube’s recent layout changes make annoying. Instead of simply showing me the latest videos from my subscriptions, YouTube’s recent changes mean I see a gobbly-gook confection of “Stuff To Watch Next”. Some of this is from my subscriptions, but a lot more of it is related to videos I’ve watched in the past.
There are fixes for this, including bookmarking “youtube.com/feed/subscriptions” and using that in place of YouTube’s home page. But to me, YouTube’s TV version is the perfect fix. With it I can watch the latest videos from my subscription – they’ll all playback automatically in order. It’s also the perfect way to binge on a newly discovered channel.
If you want something like this on your TV but don’t have a computer hooked up, check out YouTube for Wii. Know of any other alternative ways to watch YouTube? Leave them below so everyone can benefit.