I like to imagine an average meeting at the headquarters of YouTube going something like this: “What little change can we make today to annoy our user base even more?”. Or “How far can we take it before people actually stop using our website?”.

Today I’m going to discuss a few ways you can take control over YouTube again.

1. How to disable automatic playback (autoplay) of your favorites list

Since a few years ago, automatic playback of our playlists, or more specifically, our list of favorite videos has been forced upon us. There is no way to turn it off now. At least not through YouTube itself anyway. Sure, this isn’t all too bad if you just have a list of music to play back at a party, but I personally just have one list of all my favorite video’s, and I like to interact with the comments as well. If you forget to pause the video it just goes to the next video in the playlist at the end, even while typing a comment. No mercy!

Luckily, there is a cure, in the form of the “NextVid Stopper for YouTube” plugin, available for both Firefox and Google Chrome.

All it takes is installing the plugin, which is effective immediately! Nice!

2. Change default video quality

I live on the countryside in the middle of nowhere and have to do with an 8mbit internet connection. This is sufficient for most tasks, and even playing back YouTube videos at 1080P30fps is not a problem. At 60fps it is becoming tricky however. YouTube automatically chooses the highest playback quality, and when it finds out the connection isn’t sufficient, it switches to 144p about 5 seconds into the video buffering (while if you let it buffer for a few seconds it will do 1080p60fps just fine).

I personally like it to load at 480p by default unless I choose otherwise. Your scenario might be different, but the Firefox plugin YouTube High Definition can take care of it all.

Simply install the plugin and choose the default video quality. You can also set the default size of the player in the box below.

Set default youtube playback quality

This plugin has a few more neat functions which we will discuss further on.

3. Disable all annotations, always

Nothing is more annoying than annotations that block the view of the entire video. Simply tick the box “Disable annotations” in the YouTube High Definition plugin for Firefox. The plugin will show you a warning that will work on your conscience:

Disable YouTube Annotations

Don’t feel too bad.

Click OK, et voila, all annotations are gone.

Take a look at the other options of the YouTube High Definition plugin, there may be some that you may find useful as well.

4. Remove advertisements

In case you haven’t installed it already, Adblock Plus nicely gets rid of all the advertisements on YouTube, and 99% of other websites. Surely there is a true war going on against ad blockers. But why see ads that you aren’t going to click anyway. It will only lower the CTR for the advertisers and publishers. If you like the content someone makes, support them in any way you can, but plain old ads are not the way in my opinion.

BONUS: How to play YouTube videos directly in VLC

Lately it seems to have become a bit better, but more than 10 years into their existence, YouTube still hasn’t managed to make a flawless video player. I bet everyone is familiar with things like the “An error occurred, please try again later.” error and other bugs.

If you Ctrl+C Ctrl+V a YouTube URL into VLC, it will start playing the video without any issues. You can skip anywhere into the video without it having to buffer all over again. It also seems to perform a lot better than the YouTube player on older computers.

Only downside, it doesn’t play most music videos.

To make this even easier, consider installing the Firefox plugin VLC YouTube Shortcut.

Vlc youtube shortcut settings

I have set it to open the video in VLC if I CTRL+click the YouTube link.