There are a lot of quirks in YouTube, but we have plenty of workarounds for most issues. Most of these are possible thanks to add-ons.
Today, we take a look at Enhancer for YouTube. It is an add-on for Firefox and Chrome, that can change the way you experience the streaming service.
The extension adds a ton of features including better playback controls, removal of advertisement, and an option to detach and pin the player.
Tip: Check out our guide on fixing choppy video playback on YouTube.
When you install the add-on, a settings page (and a help page?) should open. You can always access the settings from the toolbar icon. It has a ton of options and we'll discuss the most important ones here.
Enhancer for YouTube displays a toolbar on every YouTube page, and it has some buttons which let you control the video player. You can use the add-on's settings page to enable/disable the buttons which appear on the toolbar.
The Remove ads button disables advertisements from the videos.
If you're using Ublock Origin or another content blocker, just ignore this setting as ads are taken care of already.
If you wish to support your favorite channel you can whitelist them so that ads are displayed if the channel uses YouTube's monetization options.
The film reel icon is for enabling the cinema mode while the arrows icon is for resizing the video player.
This is one of the best features in Enhancer. The "detach video player" option (icon with the 2 squares) opens the video player in a separate window. You can scroll pages while watching the video in the pop-up player, but, if you click inside any window, the pop-up player shifts to the background.
If you want to pin it, i.e. stay on top on other Windows (including another Firefox Window), you will need to use a third-party app, AutoHotKey, to execute a script. This is not the add-on's fault, but because of limitations for extensions. The pinned player's size and position can be customized as well.
(Firefox users, refer to the closing words section for a better option.)
This option is disabled by default because using this disables another feature (controlling the playback speed). But the volume booster can be priceless when you're watching a video that has low audio levels or when you are used to changing the volume using the mouse wheel.
Enhancer has many built-in themes to choose from which changes the appearance of the YouTube website. You can also use custom CSS themes: just paste the script in the add-on.
The video player can also be themed but it only works in Cinema mode. To do so just pick a color from the palette and set the opacity.
You can set the default playback, volume and resolution that videos should play on YouTube. In fact, you can even set your second, third and fourth choice of resolution and the extension picks the first that is available based on your priority.
The add-on can optionally remove all annotations from a video. You can set the add-on to enable Theater mode, expand video descriptions, and sort comments from recent ones from the settings page.
These settings are all automated once set; there is nothing that you need to do after you enable them in the settings of the extension.
Loop mode can be enabled to replay the same video endlessly. Useful, if you have an ear worm (the musical kind, obviously). You can use Enhancer for YouTube to set the following filters: Gaussian blur, Brightness, Blur, Contrast, Grayscale, Hue rotation, Color inversion, Saturation and Sepia.
Tip: To access the filters, you need to right-click on the filters button.
You can hit Space to Play/Pause the video while the tab / video player is active. Use the Up/Down arrow keys to increase/decrease the volume, and the left/right arrow keys or "J" and "I" to rewind/fast-forward. The official support portal lists all the shortcuts (there are far too many to list here) that work with Enhancer.
To change a video's speed, hold the control key while using the mouse wheel. You can play it at 0.1x speed and over 100x. The audio controls aren't enabled be default. So, you need to check the "Control the volume level with the mouse wheel......" option to change the volume quickly using the mouse wheel.
Enhancer is really good, and feels like it has the features that YouTube should've had by default.
Mozilla is working on a built-in option for Picture-in-Picture support for videos. It was originally planned to be included in Firefox 68, but a Mozilla engineer has confirmed that it will remain in Beta/Developer Editions and Nightly for the foreseeable future. You can manually enable it from about:config.
If you're on Firefox 68 or above, you can search for the following keys and set them to true:
Firefox's PiP mode works on other sites too, like Twitch for example.
Tip: you can check out other YouTube add-ons that enhance your experience. Check out the review of Iridium as a start.
Now you: which YouTube add-ons do you use, if any?
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.