People are spending more time than ever watching online video content. Many of us are beginning to feel like YouTube is taking over our lives—it’s where we go when we have questions like how to change the showerhead when we need to be cheered up when we want to understand what’s going on in the world. Believe it or not, when polled, the number one job kids want to have when they grow up is professional YouTuber—yeah, this website has made its way into our culture in a dramatic way.
If we’re spending this much time on YouTube, we might as well learn a few hacks that can significantly improve our experience, right? The following will explore some nifty tricks that can drastically improve your viewing experience.
Install an Adblocker
If this sounds like futuristic, hacker-type work and scares you, take a deep breath. Installing an adblocker takes only a few minutes. Once you see what Youtube is like without all those pesky ads, you’ll never go back. It’s also completely free (so don’t pay for one, the ones that ask you to pay are taking your money for nothing).
Never again will you have to wait five seconds to click “skip ad” or listen to some guy tell you how he’s made several million dollars selling stuff on amazon or whatever. As a bonus, you might find your mental health improving. Studies have shown that ads are bad for our brains. None of us has enough time here on Earth that we should be watching advertisements.
Convert Videos to Audio Files
Have you ever found that one fantastic live performance of a song that you love far more than the version played on the radio? Or maybe there’s a speech you love listening to on your run, but you lose connection in a particular part of town. Perhaps there’s a video your kids love and won’t stop asking to listen to, but you want to give their eyes a break from the screen. It turns out that you can take a YouTube link and convert to MP3, which is basically a godsend many times. You can then save the audio file on your phone or computer and listen without internet access.
Get Rid of Those Comments and YouTube Spirals
While there’s a lot that we love about the internet, one of the things we abhor is the comment section. It’s all too easy to get sucked into reading foolish debates about who is more of a nazi. We don’t need to get involved. We don’t need to use our precious mental energy on reading someone else’s angry comment from six years ago.
Likewise, the Youtube algorithm is designed to keep you watching videos for as long as possible. If you let it, it will video-recommend you down a rabbit hole that you can get out of. It turns out there’s an extension for that.
A completely free extension called Unhook exists and is just as easy to install as adblocker. What this extension does is block the comment section from your view (just a long white space beneath any video) and prevent YouTube from telling you what to watch next. This can also protect you from spending hours watching things you aren’t actually interested in but are designed to hold your attention. When you go to YouTube, you’ll see a search bar, and that’s it. You can scroll through what your searches produce, but YouTube won’t then tell you to watch this semi-unrelated video designed to spark anger in you and keep you watching and sharing. This extension also works wonders for those of us who need a little break from world news and politics. Again, your mental health will thank you.
Remove Certain Recommendations
Maybe you don’t want to be complete without recommendations, but there are certain things you’re tired of seeing or aren’t interested in. Personally, we like to avoid things designed to kindle anger (studies have shown content that makes people angry gets shared the most, so companies, algorithms, and individuals tend to push infuriating content on us to encourage virality). Maybe you want to avoid those lifestyle blogs that do nothing other than make you feel inadequate.
When you’re scrolling through the homepage on YouTube, you can click the three tiny dots in the top right corner of any video and then click: Don’t recommend this channel or Not interested. With this nifty trick, you can avoid all the discussions of flat Earth and vaccines you want and get back to those cute puppy videos or video game guides or whatever it is that you like.
The above hacks should help improve your Youtube viewing experience. If you ever find yourself accepting something you dislike on any social media platform as just part of the experience—take a moment to research things. You might not have to put up with the annoying stuff after all.