How to subscribe to YouTube RSS Feeds without third-party services
YouTube, at one time, supported RSS feeds. Anyone could subscribe to channel feeds to receive updates in any RSS reader.
Google made it harder over the years to subscribe to channels, likely to push YouTube's own subscriptions feature. Unlike feeds, subscriptions requires that users are signed in to an account to receive updates.
While those options are great, some users prefer to use a dedicated feed reader instead. Ideally, they'd subscribe to all their favorite channels to receive notifications whenever new videos are posted. One extra benefit of that is that there is no artificial limit in place.
How to subscribe to YouTube creator RSS feeds manually
It takes a bit of code digging to reveal the RSS feed of a channel or a playlist without third-party tools.
The core URL that you require is https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=CHANNELID.
You need to replace CHANNELID with the ID of the channel, and that is where it may get tricky for some.
Most YouTube channels use personalized names in the URL and not the channel ID. While you may access a YouTube channel using the personalized name and the channel ID, you can't access the RSS feed using the personalized name.
- Mr. Beast Channel ID URL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX6OQ3DkcsbYNE6H8uQQuVA
- Mr. Beast Personalized URL: https://www.youtube.com/user/MrBeast6000
Reveal the YouTube channel ID
You need to display the source code of the channel on YouTube to reveal the ID. Here is how that is done:
- Open the creator channel on YouTube, e.g., https://www.youtube.com/user/PewDiePie
- Right-click on a blank part of the page and select "view page source". Depending on the browser that you use, it may have a slightly different name. Alternatively, prepend view-source: before the URL and hit the Enter-key.
- Search for browse_id. You may open the search option with Ctrl-F, or from the browser's main menu.
- The browser jumps to the first instance of browse_id in the source code. Copy the string of the value field that is right next to it; this is the channel's ID.
Create the YouTube channel RSS feed URL
Now that you have the channel ID and the default feed address, you can combine the two to create a working feed address:
- Default URL: https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=CHANNELID
- Channel ID: UCX6OQ3DkcsbYNE6H8uQQuVA
- Working Feed URL: https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UCX6OQ3DkcsbYNE6H8uQQuVA
The easiest way to test the feed URL is to load it in the browser. The browser should display the content of the XML file. You may subscribe to the channel using that URL in any feed reader that supports it.
Create a YouTube playlist RSS feed URL
You may create RSS feed URLs of playlists on YouTube as well. Thankfully, this is easier as the IDs of playlists are already visible in playlist URLs.
The default feed address for playlists: https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?playlist_id=PLAYLISTID
Here is how that is done:
- Open the playlist on YouTube, e.g., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktxBUqy6PT4&list=PLYH8WvNV1YEnOwmzyWz4vR0HsX1Qn0PoU
- The ID begins after list=; in the case above, it is PLYH8WvNV1YEnOwmzyWz4vR0HsX1Qn0PoU
- Replace PLAYLISTID of the default feed address with the real ID to create the RSS feed for the playlist. In the example above, you get https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?playlist_id=PLYH8WvNV1YEnOwmzyWz4vR0HsX1Qn0PoU
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