How to bring back old YouTube
YouTube ain’t great anymore. It used to be THE way to watch online video. It had lots of features that I loved, recommended me a lot of videos that I enjoyed, and was generally pleasant to use.
That has changed in the past few years. The front page, which used to be to show you your subscriptions, now serves to show you TikTok re-uploads. Tries to get you on the infinite scrolling hamster wheel. Wants to steal hours of your day away from you while taking away meaningful features. In this article, I seek to show you some browser extensions that “bring back the old YouTube”
Now, this is a bit of a misnomer. You can’t really “bring back the old YouTube.” Some parts of YouTube, such as the recommendation algorithm, have changed too far for a simple add-on to fix. However, these addons will be able to assist you in giving it the old “feeling” and return some of the functionality that Google has removed. I will be providing the Chrome links to these extensions, but not the FireFox ones. The reasoning behind this is that most browsers(sadly) are Chrome-based, so the chrome versions will be more useful to more people. Most if not all of these addons exist in Firefox, so searching them up in the Mozilla addon repository will yield results.
This one is the most obvious one. In 2021, YouTube removed the ability to see dislikes. Chances are, you probably already have this extension. However, for the three people that do not have it, here ya go.
Once upon a time, short form silly vids were not called memes, or TikToks, or anything else like that. They were just “videos” or if they got a lot of views, “Viral videos.” You didn’t get an infinite scroll filled with teenagers describing a scene as it plays out, providing no additional information. You didn’t have people dancing while singing about depressing news that you have already heard a million times, or those brainless “is it cake” videos. I am only 27, but I feel like an old man the way my hatred for those types of videos runs deep. They hijack your brain for maximum interaction and to get you to scroll as long as possible viewing the most milquetoast content possible. YouTube shorts blocks that by making them regular videos. Accidentally click on one? You won’t get caught in the endless scroll on accident anymore. No more brain hijacking.
The point of this extension is similar to the previous. Clickbait has been strong on YouTube since its inception. Remember when every thumbnail had a picture of a woman in a bikini? However, with popular YouTubers such as Game Theory, Mr. Beast, the Paul Brothers, they make that bikini-laden clickbait era look tame in comparison. This extension picks a random point in the video, changes the thumbnail to that, and gives the title reasonable punctuation and capitalization. This one is less to make it more like old-youtube and more to make YouTube less irritating to use. I thought I would include it, because when looking at YouTube in the Wayback Machine, clickbait was still there but way less prevalent than it is now.
Once upon a time, YouTube.com would present you with your subscriptions. Somewhere along the way, they changed things to serve you recommendations, and hid away your subscriptions in a tab on the top left section of your screen. This addon redirects all requests to youtube.com to go to youtube.com/feed/subscriptions. Simple, yet effective.
This extension is delightful to me! A few years ago YouTube redesigned their entire website to look more “modern.” That is, to make it use way more empty space, make YouTube as bloated as humanly possible, etc. This extension makes YouTube look like it did in 2014 and 2015, back when it still had a simple look to it.
With these addons, you get minimized clickbait, just your subscriptions, a lightweight look, no crazy thumbnails with that annoying youtuber face, etc. It ain’t perfect, but its better than vanilla YouTube.
As I was writing this article, it occurred to me how silly it is that we need this many extensions to give us a decent experience on the platform. YouTube used to be a great place, but every change seems to be designed to make it less and less reasonable. There are alternative video sites that have many of the old features, such as Rumble and BitChute, but these platforms are riddled with borderline nazis and antisemitic conspiracy theories. Until we can get a video sharing site that isn’t considered a place for “those who got banned from YouTube,” we will pretty much be stuck with modding plain-jane YouTube.