Play audio only on YouTube to save bandwidth

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 12, 2018
Updated • Feb 12, 2018
Music and Video, Youtube

Audio Only YouTube is a browser extension for Google Chrome to play the audio stream of YouTube videos only.

The video hosting site YouTube offers no option to play only the audio track of videos. While that is probably not desirable in many cases, it is beneficial in a few cases.

Playback of the audio stream of a video on YouTube uses less bandwidth than playback of the entire video. This may improve the stream quality, especially on low-end devices or devices with limited Internet bandwidth, for instance, when videos buffer all the time or don't play fluently. Another benefit of it is that audio-only streams require less power than video streams; useful if you connect to YouTube on mobile devices.

Audio-only playback is useful when you play certain types of videos on YouTube such as music videos, presentations, talkshows, podcasts, or discussions.

Audio Only YouTube

audio only youtube

Audio Only YouTube is active right after you install it. It is a bit worrying that the extension requires access to all sites and not only YouTube though. Is that because of embedded YouTube videos on third-party sites? You can check out the code on GitHub, and it appeared clean on quick inspection.

When you play a video on YouTube after installation, only the audio stream is transferred to your computer and played. This is faster as it uses less bandwidth and beneficial to power consumption if your machine is on battery.

The extension shows a message where the video would play stating that the extension is enabled. Users can click on the extension icon in Chrome's main toolbar to toggle it.

A click toggles the functionality of the extension so that you can switch between audio-only and video playback on YouTube with just a click. The status is remembered so that you don't need to do so each time you want to watch a video on the site.

Switching restarts the video however as the last position is not remembered.

Closing Words

Audio Only YouTube is an excellent extension for Google Chrome. It should work in other Chromium-based browsers like Vivaldi or Opera as well, and may even work in Firefox if you use Chrome Store Foxified.

It is ideal for users who listen to audio only or predominantly at times especially since it saves bandwidth and power.

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Author Rating
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Software Name
Audio Only YouTube
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  1. DemoTiger said on May 18, 2021 at 7:02 am

    None of the plugins are working. Does anyone know an alternative option?

    I do not want to use YouTube Music.

    1. Anmos said on January 10, 2022 at 10:08 pm

      I don’t think so. I use everyday Music Mode for YouTube™ ( and it works fine. It blocks the video properly and saves a lot of data.

  2. Henry said on February 28, 2020 at 3:51 am

    Another method is to copy and paste the video or music url to Allavsoft and click Download button. If you do not prefer the original format, you may check before Automatically Convert to and select your desired on from General Video or General Audio category.

  3. Henry Maclin said on February 10, 2020 at 2:35 am

    Will this work with YouTube TV also?

  4. Adel said on December 19, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    Listenbox does this very well too

  5. Anmos said on October 29, 2019 at 11:20 am

    There is a new Chrome extension which blocks the video downloading so saves more bandwidth.

  6. Gimi said on June 29, 2018 at 9:57 am

    CONSIDER THIS ::: this addons will only hide your video, not save your bandwidth !
    Check out the source code if you don´t believe and consider that a video from youtube has no separate audio, they are in the same file!

    1. Anonymous said on July 31, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      This is factually incorrect.

      Youtube delivers an audio file (usually .AAC) video file and image file.
      The video you recieve is interlaced.

      Run Jdownloader or any download helper that can pull a youtube video and feed it a youtube link, you can elect to just grab audio.

  7. NickParker said on April 1, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    Thanks a lot for writing this, I was looking for something that does just that.

  8. TimH said on February 12, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    I’m curious how this works, since audio and video data are interleaved. Does setting ” videoRect.width === 0 && videoRect.height === 0″ per the JS tell youtube to send only the audio? Because if that’s the case, probably the URL could embed a command to do that.

    To put it another way, not having the video displayed in the client browser isn’t the same as the video data being demuxed and not being sent at the server end.

    1. Paul's Dad. said on February 12, 2018 at 4:33 pm

      Audio and video are independent in 1080p and up. The audio is the same as the one served with 480p and up.

  9. Jeff said on February 12, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Always have a hard time on ghacks finding a simple hyperlinked to the covered product. I found it eventually by Googling.

    1. Rush said on February 12, 2018 at 8:33 pm


      I too always have had trouble problem solving the cloning or downloading files on github. It is most certainly a lack of knowledge on my own end, and I am too lazy to do the research.

      Doing a browser search, 9 times out of 10, fixes my quandary.

    2. MarkCB said on February 12, 2018 at 4:27 pm

      The Summary box at the end of each article usually has a landing page. In this case it goes to the Github page that has a link to the chrome store app.

  10. ubhakduf said on February 12, 2018 at 10:53 am
    1. Cigologic said on February 13, 2018 at 10:16 pm

      >> ubhakduf: “For firefox

      “Youtube audio_only” by craftwar (below) is a fork of Animesh Kundu’s “Youtube Audio” (link as supplied above by ubhakduf). The latter’s most recent release dates back to 18 Sep 2017 (v0.0.2.2).

      “Youtube audio_only” — Latest release: v0.3.2 (31 Jan 2018)

      Changes made by developer:
      * Improved performance (less CPU & RAM usage)
      * Removed side effort on non-Youtube related pages
      * Added embedded video support (eg. NightBot autodj)
      * Disabling addon reloads active tab only (for pages containing Youtube)

      For Chrome:

    2. Jason said on February 13, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      That’s another addon that wants access to all website data and all browser tabs. Like Martin, I always have to wonder why.

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