Managing YouTube Subscriptions

How do you manage your YouTube subscriptions?

Unless I’m missing something, it seems there is no good way to natively manage them. For example, subscriptions cannot be placed in folders, tagged, or even sorted.

To partially mitigate these shortcomings, under my YouTube account, I’ve created several channels, one for each of my major topics of interest (i.e., Tech, News, etc.).

Although it simple to switch channels on the YouTube mobile app, it’s tedious to switch channels using a computer browser with the method designed by Google. Alternatively, I’ve found a way to switch channels quickly using a properly constructed URL. Although it takes a few minutes to create each URL, it’s well-worth the effort. Here are the steps.

Each YouTube channel has a pageid. This 21-digit integer can be found as follows:

  1. Using Safari navigate to your main YouTube page.
  2. Click account icon in the upper-right, select Switch Account, the select the desired account channel.
  3. The home page for the channel will be displayed. After it fully renders, select Develop > Show Page Source.
  4. In the page source search for the following text: “DELEGATED_SESSION_ID”:
  5. A 21-digit integer will follow the found string. In the URL below, replace XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX with the 21-digit integer.
https://www.youtube.com/signin?action_handle_signin=true&authuser=0&feature=channel_switcher&next=%2F&skip_identity_prompt=False&pageid=XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

You can repeat this process for each YouTube channel and save these URL’s to a bookmark folder.


Switching Channels Using Keyboard Shortcuts

As a user of Keyboard Maestro, I’ve created a macro for each channel. Each macro is triggered using using Shft+Cntrl+Opt+Cmd+Y (otherwise known as Hyper+Y) so that a Keyboard Maestro Conflict Palette is rendered when pressing Hyper+Y.

3 Likes

I like your method.

These aren’t technically subscriptions, but I just throw channels into RSS and save individual videos in my reading list from there. Paging through unread items (new videos) using keyboard navigation is fast, and on mobile doesn’t take much scrolling or tapping. Most RSS services autodetect the YouTube RSS format, but you can manually search source of any channel for channelid and then use it in this format to get the feed, e.g. https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UCupvZG-5ko_eiXAupbDfxWw for CNN.

2 Likes

@cornchip, I do that two for a few of my favorite sites.

+1 for using RSS feeds for YouTube rather than - or alongside - native subscriptions. Allows sorting in to folders and, crucially, avoiding YouTube’s algorithm trying to decide what I want to see from my subscriptions.

I’m not sure how it scales to many subscriptions as I only subscribe to about ten channels this way, but it works so much better for me than the website or app.

2 Likes

I found that most YouTubers are just catering to the weekly release cycle so that their channel stay relevant for the the algorithm. By far not every video is worth watching so I treat my subscription page as a first level inbox, which I browse through once in a while. I open videos that interest me in new tabs then use the browser extension “TabCopy” to get the URLs of multiple selected tabs and add them to the app “Play” via Shortcuts. Play then acts as my second level inbox, which I purge from time to time. By not watching videos directly and using the app as a buffer I significantly cut down on being trapped into watching filler or redundant content.

3 Likes

I subscribe to many channels. I mostly watch YouTube on Apple TV. I use a group of folders in my Chrome browser on a Mac to organize the channels by subject. The channel/folder organization is for reference, not something I use while watching.

1 Like

You could try PocketTube. It is a browser extension. It works well on Chrome/Chromium (I use it on Brave) but is a bit flakey for me on safari.

It handles well over 200 channels for me.
More here

1 Like

I appreciate all of the information shared above.

Like others, I also use RSS (for me, in Reeder with folders that have a YT- prefix).

Also, I recently discovered Play and am using it as a repository for YouTube information that I want to retain long-term. For more information, see: Play: A Fantastic Utility for Saving and Organizing YouTube Videos for Later - MacStories

I really like Play!
Only I watch YouTube also on my AppleTV and mine Windows PC, so that doesn’t work for me.

But if you’re only watching YT on your Mac, Play is the way to go