The end of the week is approaching, and with it comes a certain sense of taking it easier, relaxing a bit at the office—you know, caching up on all that YouTube browsing you skip when there's real work to be done. The popular video sharing site is a great resource (and source of entertainment) that gets better with the right add-ons, plug-ins, third-party tools, and clever usage. Let's take a look at the best ways to get better video, download clips, and just find the video you're looking for at YouTube, so you can get more from your guilty pleasure.
10. Paste together YouTube clips, no editor necessary.
Even without iMovie or another paid-for editor, you can use the ridiculously vast realm of YouTube videos to patch together funny/poignant/clever projects. Free tools like Yahoo's JumpCut can take in the FLV and other format video clips you downloaded using the other tools in this list. Want to patch together your own clip-sing-along in the style of BarackRoll? Creator Hugh Atkin says he used Google's political video search tool to find all the relevant words and copy them. Now it's just a matter of finding the time to pull it off...
9. Sort all your YouTube links in Gmail with Xoopit.
If your inbox is anything like ours, you get a regular stream of YouTube links from friends, relatives, friends-of-friends, friends-of-relatives-of-friends ... and you only occasionally click through. Gmail add-on Xoopit lets you sort and run through all those links, playing them right from within Gmail. It's an easy way to avoid hurting that avid linker's feelings the next time they ask you if you saw that hilarious Amy Winehouse parody.
8. Get baked-in improvements with Better YouTube.
7. Download audio from videos.
There are a lot of great live performances lurking around YouTube, many of which have never seen the light of day in the recorded audio realm. To jump those jams into your playlist, use a web-based converter like VidToMP3, or follow one intrepid LH reader's guide to recording and converting YouTube vids into MP3. It may take a few more steps, but Matt's guide will still work, while many web-based hacks end up on the pile of dead-end links.
6. Get around international video restrictions.
This summer's Olympics has been a good lesson in the necessity of working around networks' and video providers' often ridiculous restrictions based on location and timing. On YouTube, there's often a simple work-around, as explained by the Google Operating System blog. Most YouTube links look like this:
You'll find a string of characters where
VIDEOID is. Copy that string, and paste it like so:
You'll get a copy of the video meant for embedding, one that doesn't care as much about where you're watching from.
5. Search YouTube videos on a timeline.
Free video timeline creator TimeTube is one of those tools that you should never head to while on deadline. Those without willpower issues, however, can find fascinating looks at the evolution of trends, organise TV and news clips for a wider view, and even get a little research done on current or net-related topics. It also definitely helps narrow down your searching when the results list is enormously unmanageable.
4. Get videos delivered TiVo-style with Miro.
You could, if you wanted, keep track of all your favourite net-based video shows in a feed reader or just wait to hear about them a week after they're released. Or you could use the free, cross-platform Miro player to turn your computer into a TiVo for net video. As Gina detailed in her look at Miro, the software keeps track of what you've watched, auto-recycles stuff you probably won't get to, and otherwise does a smart job of handling video streams. And if you want to hook Miro up to your real TV, it's got the chops to go full-screen with any format.
3. Turn YouTube searches into vidcast feeds.
YouTube offers up a few RSS feeds of videos—"Recently Featured," "Top Favourites Today," and the like—but not for individual searches, the kind you'd make if you were keeping up with The Guild or keeping on top of the latest Xbox 360 hacks. YouTube Podcaster, a free service from vixy.net (who also provide a nifty converter you'll see below), makes YouTube videos as easy to grab and watch as podcasts. Enter in your search URL, copy the iTunes link, and you'll get an on-demand feed of videos that meet your criteria. You'll want to be specific, but skipping the comments and stream loading time are your rewards.
2. Watch YouTube on TV.
Many web videos are perfect for quick desktop scanning, but YouTube also contains entire series and longer clips—especially those with higher resolutions available—that make for great couch fare. If you've got a classic Xbox or a Windows Media Centre hooked up to the tube, you can flip your Xbox into a YouTube-friendly media center, or add YouTube capabilities to that Microsoft-built box with free plug-in Yougle. Now you can force your already-sitting friends to catch up on Chad Vader and all your other I-swear-it's-funny-just-watch memes.
1. Make videos easy to download.
If you want to stash a YouTube clip away for editing or watching without the net, you've definitely got options. Internet Explorer users might appreciate YouTube File Hack, which grabs FLV files for you. The Better YouTube Firefox extension, crafted by our own site editor, adds a simple "Download this video" link to any YouTube page, and the All-In-One Video Bookmarklet is a nice cross-browser conversion tool. If you're away from your own setup, Vixy.net and Viddownloader are your go-to sites for downloading clips. As for watching FLV files, we like and use the cross-platform VLC player.
What are your favourite tricks for getting the most out of YouTube? Post 'em up in the comments.