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Al­ways stream videos at HD qual­ity

Youtube ad­justs the stream­ing qual­ity of videos from stan­dard def­i­ni­tion (such as 240p or 360p) to high def­i­ni­tion (720p or 1080p), based on the speed of your in­ter­net con­nec­tion. Although you can change this man­u­ally by click­ing the cog icon be­low a video and se­lect­ing an op­tion from the Qual­ity menu, you may pre­fer to al­ways stream at the high­est qual­ity. There are lots of browser ex­ten­sions that let you over­ride Youtube’s set­tings to stream in HD, 4K or even 8K (where avail­able), of which our favourites are HD for Youtube for Chrome (­outube446) and Youtube High Def­i­ni­tion for Fire­fox ( bit .ly/youtube­high446). Just choose your pre­ferred qual­ity in the add-on’s op­tions and it will au­to­mat­i­cally play videos at that res­o­lu­tion. The Fire­fox tool also in­creases the size of the video player for a bet­ter HD ex­pe­ri­ence.

Down­load videos at max­i­mum res­o­lu­tion

Youtube doesn’t of­fi­cially al­low view­ers to down­load videos to their com­put­ers, although the fea­ture is avail­able on smart­phones in many coun­tries, ei­ther via a Youtube Red sub­scrip­tion ( www or through the Youtube app. Google re­cently an­nounced plans to launch Youtube Red in “a hun­dred” more coun­tries later this year, so fin­gers crossed that the UK will (fi­nally) be one of them.

In the mean­time, as we’re sure you’re aware, there are plenty of free tools that let you down­load videos from Youtube, although this con­tra­venes the site’s terms of ser­vice, which state: “you agree not to ac­cess con­tent through any tech­nol­ogy or means other than the video play­back pages of the web­site it­self” (­beterms446).

If you’re will­ing to take the risk and to only keep down­loaded videos for per­sonal use, the best op­tion is 4K Video Down­loader (­load 446), which is avail­able for Win­dows, MACOS and Linux, and is packed with use­ful fea­tures, in­clud­ing sup­port for 3D and 360-de­gree videos, as well as playlists and chan­nels. Un­like sim­i­lar tools, it lets you down­load videos at the high­est qual­ity pos­si­ble – up to 8K where avail­able – and use its Smart Mode fea­ture to down­load mul­ti­ple videos at your pre­ferred set­tings in one click. To use the pro­gram, just copy and paste a URL, choose a qual­ity and for­mat, and click Down­load.

Un­lock Youtube’s new dark mode

When you’re watch­ing Youtube at night, the glare of its white back­ground can take a toll on your eyes and dis­tract you from the video you’re view­ing. To make things eas­ier on your peep­ers and cre­ate a more cin­ema-like ex­pe­ri­ence, you can trans­form all that white glare into black by ap­ply­ing Youtube’s new dark theme. On the web­site, click your pro­file im­age in the top-right cor­ner, se­lect ‘ Dark theme’ and set the slider to ‘on’. The change will take ef­fect im­me­di­ately.

Google has also added the dark theme to its IOS app – just tap your pro­file photo and se­lect it from the menu. It’s com­ing to An­droid very soon.

Print sto­ry­boards and tran­scripts of videos

Rather than down­load­ing a favourite video to keep for pos­ter­ity, why not print a pa­per copy of its con­tent? That’s the con­cept be­hind an in­ge­nious ‘book­marklet’ called Print Youtube Video, which con­verts videos into a sto­ry­board of thumb­nail im­ages that you can print or save.

To get started, visit and drag the Print Youtube Video book­marklet to your book­marks bar. Open a video on Youtube, click the book­marklet and it should in­stantly gen­er­ate a sto­ry­board that vis­ually sum­marises the con­tent. The book­marklet con­verts any length of video, but note that the in­di­vid­ual im­ages it cap­tures are pretty small and you’ll need to en­able Javascript in your browser for it to work.

Al­ter­na­tively, you can print a tran­script of all the spo­ken text in a video, which is gen­er­ated from Youtube’s au­to­matic sub­ti­tles. Click the three-dot but­ton be­low a video and choose ‘Open tran­script’ to dis­play the text on the right of the player. High­light and drag the words with your mouse, then copy and paste them into a doc­u­ment so you can print the tran­script – you can re­move the time­stamps via the set­tings menu in the top-right cor­ner. Just don’t ex­pect the sub­ti­tles to be 100% ac­cu­rate!

Search for spe­cific words in videos

Rather than skim­ming or sit­ting through a long Youtube video just to get to the ‘best bit’ or glean a spe­cific snip­pet of in­for­ma­tion, in­stall the Chrome ex­ten­sion In­video for Youtube ( in­video446). This bril­liant tool adds text-search ca­pa­bil­i­ties to videos so you can quickly find in­di­vid­ual words, phrases and names spo­ken in them.

To use it, click the Open In­video but­ton be­low the bot­tom-right cor­ner of the video player and a panel will open on the right that lets you search for a term that’s spo­ken in the con­tent. Click a re­sult to jump straight to the rel­e­vant mo­ment. You need only enter part of a search term to find match­ing re­sults.

In­video works by us­ing Youtube’s auto-sub­ti­tling tran­scripts (see pre­vi­ous tip), so in some cases (par­tic­u­larly with mu­sic videos), you may get a “can­not tran­scribe this video” mes­sage.

Skip ad­verts with­out cheating cre­ators

Ad­verts that play be­fore Youtube videos are a nec­es­sary evil be­cause with­out them, many cre­ators wouldn’t be able to of­fer their con­tent for free. But if you’re tired of sit­ting through the same loud, an­noy­ing ads while wait­ing for the Skip but­ton to fi­nally ap­pear, there is a solution called Youtube Ad Auto-

Force Youtube to al­ways stream videos at the highest qual­ity pos­si­ble

4K Video Down­loader lets you grab videos at the max­i­mum res­o­lu­tion

Avoid strain­ing your eyes at night by turn­ing on Youtube’s new dark theme

Youtube Red lets you down­load videos to watch off­line on your phone

Youtube gen­er­ates tran­scripts of videos that you can copy elsewhere

Turn your favourite Youtube videos into a printable photo sto­ry­board

Jump to the best bits in Youtube videos by us­ing In­video to find words

Skip ad­verts au­to­mat­i­cally rather than man­u­ally

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