How to disable YouTube's new Ambient Mode playback feature

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 25, 2022
Updated • Oct 25, 2022

Google announced the rollout of a new design on its YouTube website today. After gathering input from "thousands of viewers around the world", Google decided to give YouTube a "cleaner, more lively design".

youtube glow videos

One of the main changes is a new ambient mode, which displays a glow around the video area that adapts the background color of that area to the main color of the video.  Ambient mode is activated automatically in dark mode. Google notes that it has updated the dark mode design "so that the colors truly pop" on user screens.

The feature, which is rolling out to desktop and mobile versions of YouTube, looks to become a controversial one. Google claims that it received "overwhelmingly positive reactions from users during testing", but first reactions on sites such as Twitter or Reddit paint a different picture. Some like ambient mode, others dislike it. Some find it distracting, others don't want it to change dark mode's color scheme while playing videos.

Good news is that it is easy to turn off the glow of YouTube's new ambient mode. Here is how that is done:

On desktop and mobile devices:

  1. While playing a video, select the Settings button.
  2. Locate the Ambient Mode setting in the list of preferences.
  3. Toggle it to off to disable Ambient Mode for all videos on YouTube (in that browser).

Other options are provided by userscripts. The script YouTube watch page update reverter, for instance, reverts the watch page to the classic one. Note that it has not been updated yet to reflect the changes announced today. Keep an eye on other userscripts as well.

Another alternative is to use third-party apps or services to watch YouTube videos. NewPipe is an excellent YouTube client for Android, but there are other YouTube client alternatives as well. Desktop users may want to check out extensions such as LibRedirect, which redirect YouTube to mirror sites powered by Invidious and others.

Other YouTube design changes

There is more. Playlists show more details now and have received the same color treatment according to Google. To reduce distractions, Google decided to change links in video descriptions to buttons. Frequent actions, such as sharing or downloading, are "formatted to minimize distractions".

There is also a new pinch to zoom feature and precise seeking feature available that is being rolled out to all users on Android or iOS. Pinch to zoom allows users to zoom in and out of videos while they are playing. The zoom level stays once the action is ended on behalf of the user.

Precise seeking is designed to improve going to a specific part of the video. It works by dragging or swiping while seeking. YouTube displays a row of thumbnails of the video in that case that assists users in going to a specific part of the video.

Now You: what is your take on the design changes on YouTube?

How to disable YouTube's new Ambient Mode playback feature
Article Name
How to disable YouTube's new Ambient Mode playback feature
Find out how to turn off the new ambient design mode that YouTube displays in Dark Mode on the Web and on Mobile devices.
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  1. Anonymous said on April 5, 2023 at 6:45 pm

    >> Google claims that it received “overwhelmingly positive reactions from users during testing”

    That’s rich coming from the company that hid dislike count stating bs reasons as a cover-up… :D

  2. Stephen Beets said on November 3, 2022 at 2:36 am

    I DO NOT like the “changes” YouTube have made to the UI! Personally, I wish they’d leave the damn UI alone and focus on actual problems that desperately NEED fixing (i.e. copyright trolls wrongly claiming content that’s public domain and DMCA striking channels that dare to upload ANYTHING that’s PD, the stupid comment scam spammers, things like that)! I have NEVER used dark mode in YouTube and I want a way to disable that when accessing the site on my PC, through my web browser and while NOT logged in! I don’t wanna have to log in to my YouTube account just to watch videos the way I prefer!

  3. kr0tchet said on November 1, 2022 at 4:59 am

    While it’s might looks nicer, its was useless here on YouTube, plus that it’s even slowing down this potato PC i have (Core 2-based Pentium), and slows down Firefox aswell, now 720p is unwatchable even with Ambient Mode disabled, 360p also lags aswell and only F###king 144p is watchable at the moment, and this is the worst quality you can get.

  4. Dave said on October 29, 2022 at 12:55 pm

    Yeah, no such option on desktop. If there is, please provide screen shots.

  5. morpheus said on October 27, 2022 at 3:07 am

    this doesnt work on desktop, there is no “ambient mode” on the settings

  6. Mavoy said on October 26, 2022 at 2:33 pm

    ah, so that’s why Magic Actions don’t work. Hope they’ll fix it soon. Thanks for the script tho.

  7. K said on October 26, 2022 at 1:16 am

    “Locate the Ambient Mode setting in the list of preferences.”
    Wow, that was so much help….. (that’s sarcasm if you can’t tell)

    Can you tell us WHERE such setting asre located? Maybe provide a screenshot or two?

  8. Henk said on October 25, 2022 at 12:20 pm

    If you really need to watch Youtube videos frequently, then don’t keep loading them all in your browser or through Youtube’s own app. Instead, install the easy, free, open-source Freetube app as the player (and buffer) between you and all Youtube material. Much less hassle, much less irrations, more to-the-point search, better adjustable settings, and as a bonus: more privacy. I can really recommend it.

    1. toobplayah said on November 17, 2022 at 4:16 pm

      For mobile have a look at NewPipe…

      and here’s FreeTube while at it.

    2. Anonymous said on October 26, 2022 at 2:54 am

      Firefox Mobile + uBlock and YouTube mobile site. No need to use any YouTube apps.

  9. Anonymous said on October 25, 2022 at 11:46 am

    Thank you! This §$%& has been driving me crazy!!

  10. Anonymous said on October 25, 2022 at 11:06 am

    It looks nice to me, although some features that will be added soon, probably won’t be the same for everyone, like permanently adding a nickname with the prefix “@” to the url of each channel.

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