Google has made it harder to use YouTube as a music player over the last few years, and it’s easy to see why. A number of the extensions and apps that allowed you to stream music from YouTube without watching videos slowly went away into the ether. At the same time, Google started pushing its YouTube Music service ” similar functionality, just not free.
However, you still have a few alternatives that offer a lot more functionality than simply loading up YouTube Music in your web browser. Here’s a quick look at our three favourite apps and extensions for YouTube Music.
VOX Music Player (macOS)
Vox is a premium music player for Mac that’s designed for those who want to blast lossless music instead of compressed MP3s. We’ll be using it for its secret weapon: its ability to play music from any given link including, you guessed it, YouTube.
To use this feature, you don't need to log into Vox Cloud or pay for the app's premium offering. After opening the Vox app, use the keyboard shortcut Command + U to bring up a text box. Simply paste in the YouTube link for the video whose music you want to hear, and press Enter.
Vox will instantly start streaming the audio from the YouTube link. You can repeat this process to add more YouTube tracks to your queue, but that might get tedious. Instead, drop all the videos you want to listen to in a YouTube playlist, and copy that link into Vox to add the whole thing to your queue.
Once your queue is built up, select all the tracks and right-click to open the context menu. Now, go to the "Copy to Collection" section, and choose the "Create New Collection" option.
You can think of Vox Collections as playlists. Once created, they'll show up in the Collections tab. Now that you've created a collection out of your current queue, you can come back to Vox and just navigate to the Collections menu to start playing music or audio from YouTube without ever opening the YouTube website or the YouTube Music app. You can repeat this process to create multiple collections.
As a music player goes, Vox is pretty feature-rich. You'll find menu bar shortcuts, equaliser, standard playback controls, and more. However, to gain support for media control keys, you'll have to install the VOX media control extension. This will hard-link VOX with the media keys on your keyboard and headphones. Even if you're using other media apps (like iTunes), the media keys will always work for VOX.
YT Music App (macOS)
The free and open-source YT Music app is as close as you can get to a Spotify-like experience on the Mac. Yes, it's still a web-wrapper for YouTube Music, but it does a much better job than YouTube Music's PWA app for Chrome.
First of all, you can use the app independently from Chrome, and it supports media keys, keyboard shortcuts, Touch Bar controls, and notifications for new tracks. Additionally, all the regular features for YouTube Music are present and available.
Personally, I'm a fan of the YT Music app's Dock icon options. When you right-click on the app's Dock icon, you can quickly play/pause the music or skip to the next track. When you have your media keys mapped to another app like Vox (or when a video in Chrome takes it over), this little feature comes in handy.
YT Music Mini (Chrome)
If you use Chrome to listen to YouTube Music, consider grabbing the YT Music Mini extension to make your experience a bit better. Instead of using the YouTube Music website to control your playback, you'll be able to use this extension to Play/Pause, jump to previous and next tracks, and adjust your volume. You can also view your queue and switch to another track, and even read the lyrics to your favourite songs while they play.