YouTube is great for business, social media marketing, creating tutorials, and entertainment but it does lack some features that would take it from ordinary to extraordinary. There are a few settings for quality and playback but if you watch a lot of content on YouTube and prefer specific resolutions, screen size, and viewing options, Google Chrome has some great extensions that will enhance your viewing experience making YouTube all you ever wanted it to be!
FancyTube converts the Youtube simple player into an advanced player, giving you a dashboard of customization tools. Once installed, the default options may be enough to get you started but if you want to dive into the dashboard and make a totally custom player, start by going to the wrench in the top right corner and select Settings. Next, click the Extensions tab and then click Options to open your FancyTube settings.
I prefer a large screen view to watch video but many times when you change to the full screen version, the pixels aren’t clear and it makes you feel like you’re sitting too close to the movie screen in the theater. Manually changing the settings is a hassle and even then, the resolution may not be clear. I like the idea of a window pane somewhere in between and FancyTube has answered that! In the Player Settings, you can set the Auto HD so your screen resolution is always at the proper resolution for your PC and adjust the Auto Size to Big so the viewing pane opens in a large (but not full screen) window for easier viewing.
The Playback section gives you some much needed controls for the player such as an Auto Replay button for those great videos you just love to watch again and again. Scroll To Video brings up your selected video front and center without all the clutter so you’re only viewing what you select. You might also notice there aren’t any ads in, on, or near my video thanks to the Adblock feature. Stop Auto Play allows you to start the video when you’re ready, not upon opening the page. Space To Pause allows you to hit the space bar to stop the video and White Player gives you the option to view the video with the white background or default to the black background.
Update: FancyTube is no longer available in the Chrome store
2. Magic Actions For YouTube
Magic Actions for YouTube has the common basic elements but gives a lot more custom features than FancyTube. If you want full control over your video experience, this extension is for you!
One cool feature is the ability to adjust the volume using the mouse wheel. The settings allow you to choose the way the volume is displayed, the color it’s displayed in, and the step of the volume adjustment. When you hover your mouse over the video, it will display the volume bar as you’ve set it. Scroll the mouse wheel up to increase volume and down to decrease it.
I liked the medium size display window in FancyTube but Magic Actions blows it out of the water with a large size screen that is perfect for viewing any video. You can select the small or medium size if you prefer or check the box to open your video in full screen every time. Check the box to switch to cinema mode automatically when video playback starts, I promise you will love it! The awesome backlight of the cinema view combined with the HD large screen mode transform your browser into a standalone custom movie viewer.
To change the backlight color, click the half moon icon in the top right of your screen. A drop down menu of color options will open. Select a color from the menu or choose the Custom Scheme to create your own backlight color.
When you select the Stop Autoplay, you’ll not only have control over when the video starts, you’ll also be able to allow it to preload and have continuous play when it’s part of a playlist.
When using YouTube, you may not care to see all the comments and icons from other users. Easily turn those off by unchecking the boxes under the Comments Features so all you see is the video.
3. Picture In Picture For YouTube
For times when you want to have a video playing in the foreground while working on other applications, Picture In Picture For YouTube is your answer. By docking the YouTube videos to the corner of your screen, you can browse between tabs and applications seamlessly. This is especially useful when watching tutorials so you can follow along in the application without having to pause and toggle screens.
Once you add the extension to Chrome, you’ll see the icon added to your YouTube menu below the video.
The first time you use the extension, you’ll be prompted to grant permission to launch. Once you agree, you’ll need to click on the PIP tab again to open your settings. This is a one time setup so future uses of the Picture In Picture will auto-launch the preview window. To customize your settings, simply check or uncheck any of the options shown.
Once you’ve configured your settings, you’re ready to start using the PIP option. By default, the window will be shown in the bottom right corner. If you want to change the position, click on the wrench icon in the top right of the PIP window and select the position from the list.
You can stack PIP windows on top of one another as well to have a library of material to watch as a playlist.
Using these Chrome extensions can give you a whole new YouTube experience that is not only entertaining but also useful. Have you tried these extensions? Tell us what you think and let us know if you have a favorite YouTube extension not listed here.