How to customize YouTube in 3 easy steps

Tired of all the YouTube ads, annotations, comments and pop-ups? We show you how to fix them completely and permanently in less than two minutes

There’re a lot of things to love about YouTube, but an equal lot to hate as well. Thankfully, you can fix them all with a few tips, tweaks & tricks and go back to watching your video without any distractions. Here’s how:

1. Use Google Chrome
If you haven’t still switched to Chrome like the majority of the world has done, better YouTubing would be a good incentive to make your shift now. Not only is Chrome the fastest, lightest, and least memory intensive web browser out there but also the other two tips mentioned below works best with Chrome.
I use Safari on my iPhone and iPad for the simple reason that Apple uses the nitro JavaScript engine for Safari on iOS while the other browsers (including the breathtakingly beautiful Coast by Opera) are shackled with the stock – and older – Apple-provided WebKit with a conventional JavaScript engine. It isn’t fair but what can you do? But for my MacBook Air and Windows PC, I use Google Chrome and will be sticking with it for the foreseeable future.
Already got Chrome? Great, let’s get cracking then!
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2. Install Adblock Plus
Adblock Plus is a Google Chrome extension that blocks all (and I really mean ALL) annoying banners, pop-ups and video ads on websites, including Facebook and YouTube. So just installing it is half the work done. It is hugely powerful, even blocking browser-tracking software and disabling social media buttons. No wonder it is the world’s most popular browser extension with over 50 million users.
Keep in mind though, that many sites run on legitimate advertising so you’re essentially blocking their source of income when you install Adblock Plus. Recognizing this, the developers has come up with a list of websites that adhere to their “Acceptable Ads” criteria by serving unobtrusive ads. After installing it, you will occasionally stumble upon a site that asks you to “whitelist” or disable Adblock Plus for their site. You can still block all of them too, but I would strongly recommend that you don’t do so. Please remember, these sites depend on our clicks and page views to serve us the information that we went there to get in the first place.

3. Install YouTube Options extension for Chrome
With Adblock Plus taking care of the pesky ads, it is now time for the final step: fixing YouTube itself. Go back to the Chrome Web Store and install yet another extension, the aptly named YouTube Options, or YTO. Once you install it, you can go to Settings>Extensions>YouTube Options and tweak it further, or you can just let it be.
One of my biggest pet peeves against YouTube – and the one that led me to search for an answer, and then share this post with you – is the way it keeps changing the resolution midway through a video. I have a 4Mbps Reliance Broadband connection that’s adequate for watching 480p videos in large mode, but it is more temperamental than Alec Baldwin, were he to travel on Kingfisher Airlines. And YouTube can’t remember my settings. Upgrading the video quality automatically is all right if the bandwidth is there, but don’t you just hate it when it is downgraded for no reason at all? It also keeps changing the volume levels, which is hugely annoying when you’re using a MacBook Air with tinny speakers and want to hear every word Zach Galifianakis is mumbling to his confused talk show guests. Even if you’re signed in with the newfangled Google+ integration, there’s no way you can keep your video player settings intact.
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With YouTube Options, you can now choose your preferred player size and resolution and save it for posterity. You can also hide all annotations and closed captions, keep the volume constant, and hide all “First, your a homo” comments with YTO. Or add a frame or dark background to the video, hide branding, and suggested videos based on browsing history, loop a particularly nice song; the possibilities are endless. The most common options can be accessed directly from beside the address bar so keep experimenting and find the option that suits you best. It also works with Vimeo, Dailymotion, Hulu, Funny or Die, and many other video sharing sites. There’s also an option to download videos directly but Google doesn’t support it so you’ll have to download this from YTO’s official website.

I discovered YouTube Options just a few hours ago and it has given a whole new perspective to viewing online videos. Since then I’ve spent my time, just tweaking it further and also kicking myself for not having discovered it before. Incidentally I did that the first time I discovered Adblock Plus too. Let me know how it works out for you, and leave me a comment if you find these three easy tips helpful. Happy viewing!

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