If you feel nostalgic for the way YouTube used to be, or at least how it used to look, it’s possible to go back. An extension called “YouTube Classic” for Firefox and Chrome allows you to de-age the web video hub with a retro skin that reverts the site to how it looked once upon a time.
The content-serving algorithms will not change, so you’re still getting the 2019 YouTube experience, but the “Classic” extension makes some noticeable style shifts in the YouTube home page, as well as pages for individual videos. On the home page, each recommendation carousel shows fewer videos, and trades header ads for “trending” and “subscriptions” tabs.
This is how the YouTube home page normally looks.
This is how it looks with the Classic mode extension.
On the specific video page, the standard viewing window is smaller and more square than the modern version — 640 x 360 pixels in Classic, versus 780 x 440 normally. You may also notice that some of key text below video has been moved around: In the classic mode, the channel name and subscribe button are right below the window and the view count has been pushed over to the side. Across the board, thumbnails and text are generally smaller in Classic mode, and the web apps menu that helps you find sites like YouTube TV and YouTube Music has been removed.
Screenshot: Mike Epstein, YouTube
Here’s how it looks in Classic Mode.
If that looks and sounds like something you might be into, give it a shot. On Firefox, you can download the extension from Mozilla’s Add-On store. On Chrome, things get a little trickier: Google delisted the extension, so you have to download it from GitHub, then load it into Chrome in developer mode. It’s a lot easier than it sounds.
First, go to the YouTube Classic extension GitHub page and download the files by tapping “Clone or Download,” then “Download ZIP.” Now that you have the file, activate developer mode in Chrome’s settings, go to the Customise menu, then “More Tools,” then “Extensions,” and toggle the “Developer Mode” switch on. Once you turn on Developer Mode, a new set of buttons will drop down from the top menu bar: To upload YouTube Classic, press “Load Unpacked” and select the folder you downloaded on Github. (It’s called “youtube-classic-extension-master”). Once you do that, YouTube Classic will appear at the top of your extensions list just like any other.
Once you’ve downloaded it, you can switch between modern and “Classic” YouTube on the fly by toggling the icon next to the search bar and reloading the page. According to GHacks.Net, running the classic mode extension should make YouTube run faster, especially in Firefox. I didn’t notice a significant change, myself, but I only did a couple of superficial tests so it may do more on some systems than others.