BEAT YOUTUBE RESTRICTIONS
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 ( bit.ly/hdyoutube446) 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 .youtube.com/red) 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” ( bit.ly/youtubeterms446).
If you’re willing to take the risk and to only keep downloaded videos for personal use, the best option is 4K Video Downloader ( bit.ly/4kdownload 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.
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 ( bit.ly/ 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