I’m going to introduce the top 10 tools that I use frequently. With these Chrome extensions and web apps, you can search for videos easier. The playback experience would also be much improved due to additional features.
The following Chrome extensions help you search for videos faster:
(1) Fast YouTube Search
This is a Chrome extension which helps you to search for videos directly in a pop-up on the address bar. In other words, you don’t have to leave your current page to make a search. Say, when you just received an email from your friend talking about Justin Bieber, you could use this handy tool to find out his latest MTV without leaving GMail.
Install from here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ggkljdkflooidjlkahdnfgodflkelkai
(2) Video History for YouTube
Sometimes you want to enjoy a previously-watched video again but forgot which one it is. This Chrome extension records all the YouTube clips you have watched, including those embedded videos you watched via other web sites. You can enter keywords to search (it comes with an option to erase the history, of course). Besides your history, it can automatically check new updates of your subscriptions and display a list of popular YouTube videos.
No matter which video you chose, it includes a preview function so you can watch a video right in this extension pop-up box.
Install form here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ackeniinoofnemjbpajchaciaomijild
(3) Turn Off the Lights
I like outputting my computer’s screen to the TV when playing YouTube. Watching videos on a large screen is so enjoyable, but sometimes the ads, icons and menus around the video cause distraction. This extension dims all the stuff surrounding the video. You can determine the color and transparency of the “curtain”. If you tried Hulu before, you should be similar with this function.
Install from here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/bfbmjmiodbnnpllbbbfblcplfjjepjdn
(4) YouTube Quality Selector
If you have sufficient bandwidth to enable high definition videos, this Chrome extension would be very helpful. It allows you to set the default resolution to the highest when play videos. On the other hand, if you only have a slow internet, you can force YouTube to play videos in low resolutions all the time.
Install from here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ceabifbfdgibpkmbmlmnckcdlphlbfba
(5) Auto Replay for YouTube
I recently had an experience of soothing a crazily crying baby. Since the baby loved Angry Birds a lot, I found an Angry Birds trailer on YouTube and play it again and again.
With this extension the mission had been so easy. As its name implies, it enables auto replay of the same video on YouTube. Simply click on its icon and it would take care of the rest. It is most suitable for looping a video for presentation/display.
Install from here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/kanbnempkjnhadplbfgdaagijdbdbjeb
Web Apps Building on YouTube Contents
With the above extensions, playing videos in YouTube should be made much easier. The following web apps I’m going to introduce would take you to an even higher level of YouTube enjoyment.
This strange name, Youtify, means YouTube + Spotify. It’s a web service similar to Spotify, with the exception that all music comes from YouTube.
You don’t have to register for an account to use Youtify. Simply go to the web site, enter a search term, all relevant videos are listed out. Or you can choose the Top 100 or Best of YouTube to find our the hottest items. You can drag and drop a video to the sidebar on the left to create a new playlist or add to an existing one. Double-clicking an item would play it in a small window at the bottom left corner. There is no way I could enlarge the video. I guess since this web app is intended to be a music (NOT video) player, you are expected to listen to the music. After all, video is not the main point here.
My first impression about Youtify is that it looks like the iTunes in my Mac. Playlists on the left, music list on the right, image display at bottom left. The only exception is the player control which is at the bottom (the one in iTunes is op the top by default). If you choose the iTheme skin (skin selection is located next to “Youtify”), Youtify looks even more like iTunes. You may treat Youtify as a YouTube music player with an iTunes-like interface.
Unfortunately not all items on YouTube are supported here. When I clicked on some videos, Youtify told me the content owners refused to share them with Youtify.
Official page: http://www.youtify.com
Also available in Chrome Web Store: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ceimdjnelbadcaempefhdpdhdokpnbho
We always go to the cinema with friends. Why can’t we watch videos with friends at the same time? With SynchTube, we can.
SynchTube is a web app where you can create a (virtual) room to watch a video. The most interesting part is other people can come in and watch together. Everybody in the same room is watching the same video at the same time. There is a text chat window on the page so audiences can discuss about the video. A room could be set to public or private, don’t worry if you want to have a private screening of intimate videos.
Each user’s progress is shown at the bottom of the window. There are times when the audiences are not watching the video at the same pace. Each room has a leader who is able to bring everybody together to the same part of the video.
I can think of many uses of this web app. For example, creators of a video could watch the unfinished edit and discuss about it simultaneously. This is particularly useful when people are far apart. Or it could simply let people enjoy the same movie and laugh together.
Official page: http://www.synchtube.com
Lay on bed and enjoy endless YouTube videos in a StumbleUpon style, with Nowmov. Here you can choose any channel you like, which contains a queue of videos in this category. If you don’t like the video, just click “dislike” and the next video would be played automatically. If you enjoy it so much, press “like”. The system would learn from your choices and give you more videos that (it thinks) you like. Pretty StumbleUpon, right?
I like Nowmov because no thinking is needed. Just click to watch or skip, very simple. It is most suitable for enjoying funny videos at a hard day’s night.
Official page: http://nowmov.com
iDesktop.tv is a powerful YouTube replacement. I dare to use the word “replacement” because with iDesktop.tv you don’t actually need to touch YouTube. It has virtually every function of YouTube, plus more.
Say, an interactive user interface. Try typing in your search term, the results are shown in thumbnail view, you can see 10 suggested results on the same page without scrolling. Click on anyone would pop up a window on the same page to view the video. You can also enlarge the window, or even maximize to full screen.
On functionality, iDesktop.tv enables you to download videos in many different formats such as AVI, MOV, 3GP, WMV, MP3 and MP4. If you are sending the video file to your friends, you can choose EXE or ZIP formats instead because a video player is included. Apart from video download, you can find other basic functions like creating playlist by dragging and dropping, sharing the video with friends by mail, etc.
There are certainly other web apps or browser extensions that provide some of these functions. But a single web app with ALL these features? Well, I think iDesktop.tv is the best.
Official page: http://idesktop.tv
(10) YouTube Leanback
Back in my last article about converting a Chromebook into a DIY Google TV
, I have introduced YouTube Leanback. It’s a simplifed version particularly designed for the TV. One thing I forgot to mention, which makes it very attractive, is that it comes with YouTube Remote from Android Market
which turns your Android smartphone into a remote control when using YouTube Leanback.
It has no fancy features, all you get is a user friendly interface. You can navigate around with arrow keys. Texts and icons are large enough. If you don’t want additional features but simply watching videos, you may try YouTube Leanback.
Official page: YouTube - Broadcast Yourself
(This is an excerpt of a post in my blog)