The amount of quality content you can enjoy on YouTube for free is pretty astounding. Of course nothing is ever truly without some cost, and usually this takes the form of adverts. Most of these can be skipped after five seconds, which is a small price to pay for the content you receive, but increasingly there are longer ads that you have to watch in full.
While we understand the economics involved, there really is no point in spending thirty seconds being shown a car you have no intention of buying, especially when all you want to see is a two minute lesson on making a Lancashire hot pot. Below we explain how you can remove ads on YouTube.
Be warned, though, while these tips might work for now YouTube does have freeloaders in its sights. YouTube’s global head of music Lyor Cohen told Bloomberg that it will “frustrate and seduce” free users into paying for the content, disrupting the experience where one track flows into the next. Which seems a bit mean, given that YouTube Red STILL isn't available in the UK, so we couldn't pay if we wanted to.
Is blocking ads legal?
There’s nothing illegal about blocking ads. In fact the popular app Adblock Plus went through a lengthy court case in 2015 where a group of German publishers claimed it was illegal for the app to block advertisements on sites that they owned. The judge in the case eventually sided with Adblock Plus, which seems to have set a precedent for these types of cases.
Of course there is a stronger argument on the morality of blocking ads. After all you are consuming a product or service for which the only cost to you is enduring watching ads to pay for the costs of production and distribution. This is a constant battle, as ads can prove intrusive when done badly, making visiting a site unpleasant. On the other hand someone has to pay the bills or the content won’t be created in the first place, and if you like the content, you should support the creator. Like all moral quandaries the final choice rest with your own value judgements.
Can you pay to have ads removed from YouTube?
At the moment there is a subscription service called YouTube Red, but it’s not yet available in the UK. This premium version of YouTube features original content from some of the biggest stars on the platform and no ads at all. In the US it costs $10, but Google has yet to make any firm statements about when we could see the service in Britain.
The search giant did announce recently that it would be getting rid of its unskippable 30 second ads by 2018, but will persist with 6 and 20 second varieties. So...swings and roundabouts.
Use an ad blocker in your web browser
The most obvious way to rid yourself of the unwanted ads is to use a dedicated ad blocker. Most browsers have a number of these available, often for free or at the very least a nominal amount.
If you’re a Chrome user then the way to find and install your ad blocker is to open a new tab then click on the colourful square grid in the upper left corner of the screen. On the following page double click the Web Store option then search for ‘ad blocker’. You’ll see a number of options in the Extensions section. Click More Extension Results to open up the full breadth of the content on offer.
One that we know to be very effective is the aforementioned Adblock Plus. Click on the listing of the one you want to use, then click the Add to Chrome button.
Now you should see an icon appear to the right of your Chrome search bar. Clicking this will drop down the various settings you can use with the software. Just remember, if you use a site regularly then maybe add it to the app's whitelist so that it will serve some ads and pay the creators of the content you enjoy.
If Firefox is your browser of choice then it’s pretty much the same method. Open a new tab. Click on the three lines in the top right corner then select Add-ons from the dropdown menu. Type ‘ad blocker’ into the search box in the upper right corner, select the app you want to use from the list that appears, then click Install.
In much the same was as on the above browsers ad blockers are available for Edge. To install them open a new tab then click on the three dots in the upper right corner. From the drop down menu select Extensions and then click on the Get extensions from the Store option.
Now search for ‘adblock’, click on the Adblock Plus icon and click Get. Adblock Plus will install and when it’s finished you should see it appear in the Extensions section in Edge. Click 'Turn it on' and you can start your uninterrupted YouTube viewing.
IE has adblockers too. To find them click on the gear symbol in the top right corner just below the X button. From the drop down menu select Manage add-ons then go down to the bottom of the box that appears and click Find more toolbars and extensions…
Search again for adblock, choose the one you want, click 'Get the App' and it should automatically install.
Use an ad blocker on iPhone or iPad
The YouTube app is easily the best way to consume content on the video platform, but there’s no way to block the ads. This is hardly surprising as it would mean Google empowering you to take its revenue stream away. If you want to minimise the ads you see on your iPhone or iPad then you can download an app like Adblock Plus or Crystal from the App store, both of which can be used in the Safari browser.
Download the blocker you prefer then open the iOS Setting app and navigate to Safari>Content Blockers, and enable the app. Now when you use Safari you should see the ads have disappeared or are at least in reduced quantities.
Use an ad blocker on Android
While Android is a typically more open platform than iOS it seems that there has been something of a battle going on, with Google often finding ways to circumvent ad blockers. At the moment it’s unclear which is the best route to an ad-free YouTube, but one option worth exploring is installing a dedicated browser that has a blocker built-in. At the moment our favourite is Adblock Browser for Android, which is free and can be found on the Google Play Store. Install the app, navigate your way to YouTube, and keep your fingers crossed.
So there are a variety of ways to prevent ads from spoiling your YouTube viewing. Once again take a little time to consider the implication of using ad blockers, as they directly affect content creators. The very site on which you’re reading these words is heavily reliant on advertising to pay its writers and editors. So if you want quality content to remain, think of how you’re willing to financially support it.