Privacy friendly youtube workflow

I have a number of youtube channels I like to follow on topics that interest me. I would prefer if google/youtube wasn’t tracking me excessively while this happened.

Previously, I was using a combination of RSS feeds of the channels I was interested in and invidious/piped instances to access the content whenever practical. With youtube’s current war on those applications, it has been less than fun to try to watch videos that way. You basically have to bop around trying to find an instance that is currently working and the ones that do work often have serious bandwidth limitations and are run by a completely unknown party. This has left me looking for a new workflow.

After reading posts from a number of people here I have switched to the following:

  • I use freetube to manage my subscriptions offline
  • If video quality isn’t a huge issue, I use freetube to view the content
  • If quality is an issue, I have a keyboard shortcut to yt-dlp that downloads the content and opens it in haruna(A local media player)
  • I use LibRedirect so youtube links open in freetube

Thanks to @fbodymechanic for pointing out freetube and to @Kresimir for sharing his yt-dlp script and the idea to put it on a keyboard shortcut.

This setup is not perfect but it works.

Here are the positives:

  • freetube gives you access to whatever parts of youtube you choose and limits access to the rest. It is very configurable.
  • Both freetube and yt-dlp support integration with sponsorblock if you prefer that
  • Local subscriptions in freetube means the list of channels you subscribe to is stored locally
  • yt-dlp is incredibly flexible and supports gettings the exact quality and format you desire and many other features
  • LibRedirect is actually quite a nice browser plugin and allows redirecting much more than only youtube links. I wish I had found this earlier

There are some negatives as well:

  • It is less intrusive from a privacy perspective but it isn’t anonymous. You are still downloading content directly from youtube. Freetube/LibRedirect also support invidious instances but those are not ideal right now for the reasons mentioned above.
  • Freetube streaming quality is subpar compared to directly accessing youtube, especially when you switch resolutions
  • The player embedded in freetube doesn’t support resolutions higher than 1080p in some/most videos
  • The workflow from browser->freetube->yt-dlp is not ideal

Other things I looked into:

  • minitube - It has all the same issues as freetube but without all the great features
  • plasmatube - Relies on invidious instances so it is basically broken
  • purism-stream - It was broken for me but even if it wasn’t it looked…flawed
  • smtube - An interesting concept but only supports lower resolution streams

Good solution! But I’m a little more radical: I do not even have an account with Youtube, with which I could sign up. This has the disadvantage that I can not subscribe to channels, but I can live with it well. What I want to see, I can also follow so well.

For Android devices, I personally use LibreTube. It contains sponsorblock and some other small QoL features. Also allows you to track channels, and read comments, without needing an account on either YouTube or a Piped instance.

Not really an alternative nor a solution for pc, but I think it’s worth a try for android devices.

Source code:

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I just use ublock origin and that’s all.


Me too, and like @anon50380917 I never log in.


I also use FreeTube to manage my offline subscriptions (whatever you do, do not search for FreeTube on Duck Duck Go, or if you have to, make sure Safe Search is turned to strict :rofl:). The problem I have with it, however, is the fact I am really annoyed by it’s Electron GUI.

One of these days, I plan to look into the Invidious API (which is also used by FreeTube), to make my own offline YouTube subscription manager, as a CLI application. All I want is a simple TUI program that lists the videos from the channels I picked, sorted by the upload date, and allows me to pick them out and download them with yt-dlp (actually, just copy the URL to clipboard, my script then does the rest). It shouldn’t be too difficult to implement it, but I haven’t yet had the time to dedicate to that goal.


I always have that with me anyway :wink: .

I also find that the whole effort with YouTube is less and less worthwhile. Except music is less and less interesting there. IMHO.

Seems like a lot of extra work when you can get most content on Odysee and download straight from Odysee. All the content creators I view have channels on both and I noticed for a majority of the videos that they are released on Odysee before Youtube.

It depends what your content focus is. Literally nothing I watch on yt is available on Odysee. So, unfortunately, it isn’t really an option for me.

RSS + @Kresimir’s script for the win! :clown_face:
I tend to use youtube itself as source for downloading videos, since it’s not limited by speed / quality at all, at least for now.

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What RSS feeder (aggregator, or whatever one calls such a program) do you use? Being fairly aware of my general preferences (small, fast, minimalist GUI or terminal-based), do you have anything to recommend?

Nothing fancy, just Feedbro browser plugin seen it somewhere here on forum…Haven’t made extensive research on standalone readers so far.



Seems nice! I remember the time when Firefox had an RSS feeder built into it, and I used it quite a lot. When it got removed, I mostly stopped using RSS. I used Newsboat for a while, but I found it rather annoying and cumbersome.

In the ancient times, in a land far away. Through the valley of kings and demons, I used to use FeedDemon. :melting_face:

Aaaah, the famous NewsBLOAT :rofl:

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No problem subscribing to channels anonymously on Freetube.

Freetube is simply fantastic. You can export your subscriptions to an opml list and import it e.g. on NewPipe in Android. you really have a lot of possibilities.

OK, maybe i try it.

Have you tried ytfzf ?

I use this to save links to a playlist.
5 pages means around 100 videolinks, 20 pr page

ytfzf -A -I L --pages=5 AC/DC > playlist_ACDC.txt

Then play them with mpv

mpv --playlist=playlist_ACDC.txt -vf scale=1280:720

Ytfzf supports channels, playlists and subscriptions
More info here

Didn’t properly learn it yet but works for what I need :+1: