Monday, July 5, 2010

Faster Youtube on Macs

Don't get me wrong. I like slideshows just as much as the next person. Really, they can be incredibly useful. So when I heard about this new site called "Youtube," I went over and exclaimed, "Aha! A new slideshow website. Very good! Very good!"

Okay, so it turned out to be a video website and my slow processor was deceiving me. For years I've been frustrated by Youtube's stuttering and slideshowesque playback and hoped Adobe would come out with some miracle Flash update* that would magically solve all my problems. Never happened.

But lo and behold I tripped over a couple of solutions recently that bring stutter-free playback to even this old Sawtooth. The first isn't Mac specific. It merely involves adding to the end of the page's URL "&ftm=5". For example, if you want to view the video here:

just add &fmt=5 at the end like this:

So you may notice at this point that the picture quality is somewhat pixilated. There are other options you can play with like &fmt=18 or &fmt=34. Mileage may vary. A fuller list of options can be found here, and there are supposedly Greasemonkey scripts that automate the process.

There's also a Mac specific way to go at this. In fact, it's a separate application called MacTubes. It's a Youtube player with an iTunes-like interface, with a search-results main pane and a sidebar for playlists of your favorites. Download it and select Quicktime Player as the player type in preferences and you can play back stutter-free without the drop in picture quality as the &fmt=5 option. Plus it's also a downloader if you want to save the videos to your hard drive.

Now I can keep up with politicians' latest macaca moments and parents using their small children as Youtube fodder to my heart's delight!

*By the way, for those of you who downgraded to Flash 9 because Flash 10.0 for OS X was such a disaster, Flash 10.1 improves things and returns framerates back to version 9 levels, so it's safe to update.


  1. you should also give the shareware youview a try. Does the same thing as mactubes but you can't download if you don't pay up. It is however fully functional otherwise, and I think does a slightly better job using ffmpeg versus quicktime.

    Long live the PPC bro.

  2. Thanks, I'll check it out.