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Five ways to make YouTube less annoying: Block ads, solve stutter and watch offline

Annoying ads, lag and stutter and comments: we show you how to make YouTube a better place

While YouTube is an incredible tool and a website that can genuinely replace your Netflix subscription, it’s not perfect. From unskippable adverts to requiring a persistent internet connection, I’ve come up with five fixes to the website’s most irritating niggles, organised neatly into category. Following my advice will make YouTube a much more pleasant experience.

1.) Watch YouTube Offline and convert to MP3

Having to be constantly connected to the internet to watch YouTube videos can be a pain, especially if you want to binge on a certain channel’s content when you’re on a long trip, for example. There are a couple of ways to do this, but both have their limitations.

First, the less dodgy-sounding one. If you subscribe to Google Play Music, you also get access to a YouTube feature called Music Key. This lets you, among other things, download music videos for offline playback if you have an Android phone. Only music videos are available and you can only keep them for 30 days.

Everything you need to know about YouTube Red

Now, the catch-all, dubious method: to download any video for offline playback, simply copy the URL of the video you want and go to Paste the URL into the box at the top of the page and click Download.

You’ll be presented with a list of download options, although most of them limit you to audio or video only. The top two options are generally the best bet, providing you with 480p or 720p-quality .mp4 files that have both audio and video. Or simply select one of the .MP3 links instead. Avoid any other download buttons littered around the page: these are ads that’ll try and make you download software. You need no extra software to download a KeepVid video.

2.) Remove YouTube Comments

YouTube comments can really spoil your enjoyment of a video, either with biting criticism, arguments or plain-old spoilers that give away the punch line. Luckily, there are extensions available that simply remove the module where comments are normally found: download Hide YouTube Comments for Google Chrome or No YouTube Comments for Mozilla Firefox.

3. Block ads (or view better ones)

In order to fund creator’s content, YouTube has to show ads, known as ‘pre-rolls’ to users when they come to a video. Some of them can be more than five minutes long, although these truly epic ads usually give you the option to skip after five seconds. These ads are also starting to show up in longer with ads being shown every 10 minutes. While I don’t recommend using the various methods to block advertising on the web, there are some ways to at least change the ads you see.

If you get given an ad you can’t skip and you don’t like it, simply hit refresh and you’ll be given another, different ad. You might even get one you can skip sooner. If you keep getting the same ad repeatedly and you find it annoying, you can block it so you never see it again. To do this, click the small ‘i’ button at the bottom-left of the video and click ‘Stop seeing this ad’. Handily, this will also skip the current ad and take you straight to the video. It’s not clear how often you can get away with doing this.

If you want to stop seeing personalised ads based on the information Google has about you, click on Ad Settings instead. From there you can switch off personalised ads, although the ads you see will still be based on your location, just not any other information Google has about you such as your viewing history, age, gender and browsing habits.

Fix YouTube stutter and lag in Google Chrome

Viewers with slower computers often malign the fact that YouTube videos that are streamed at 60fps instead of 30fps, and others have problems playing HD video without stuttering. A simple fix that many users have found works effectively is to disable hardware acceleration in Google Chrome. To do this, go to Settings and search for ‘hardware acceleration’. Untick the box and you should see improved performance. Chrome users can download the h264ify extension, which forces YouTube to serve video using the H.264 codec instead of VP8/VP9, improving performance in some cases.

Preview video ratings:

YouTube isn’t in the habit of serving up videos it thinks you’ll hate, but sometimes it’s nice to know that you’re about to watch a video that you’ll probably enjoy. The YouTube Ratings Preview extension, is a handy extension for Google Chrome that adds the blue/white bar to the thumbnail of every video link on every page on YouTube.

The extension has lots of customisation options including colour, size and an option to highlight the best-rated videos on any given page. A must-have for any avid YouTuber. 

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