YouTube Playlists

I watch a lot of YouTube videos. In fact, I watch videos there every day, and have been known to go weeks without even turning on my television. We have Cable TV mostly because my wife likes it, and I like her, so we have cable.

Most of the videos I watch are part of ongoing series that are packaged as channels in YouTube. If you subscribe to a channel, and then click on the Bell icon, you will get an e-mail every time a new video is released by that channel. In many cases that is all I want. For example, one of the channels I subscribe to is Computerphile, which interviews professors of computer science on a variety of topics, and I will generally watch whenever a new one comes out.

Lately, however, I have subscribed to a number of channels by people who travel in Recreational Vehicles (RVs), or what in England they call Caravans. My wife and I are planning to get an RV to do some traveling when we retire, which right now is scheduled for 2021, and this is a way to learn more about it. When I find a channel I really like, with people I consider engaging, I often will want to go back to the beginning and watch their series in order. And YouTube does not make it easy to do this. It is, however, possible, and I want to explain how I have done this.

Also, I have done this for a particular reason, but since so much music is now available on YouTube I can see another use case where someone might want a playlist of all of the videos uploaded by an artist they like. And there are probably other use cases I have not considered, but I will wager Ken would love to have a show about them if have your own use for this technique.

Get All the Videos

I wish YouTube made this easier, but the key idea is that since all of these videos are part of a channel, YouTube knows about all of them somewhere in its database. You just need to pull that data out. There are some channels that may have a comprehensive playlist ready for you (it may be a button labelled “Uploads” for instance), but I imagine this is something added by the channel owner since those are not common. This technique works for any channel.

You need to get a code, and to do this, you need to first click on a video from that channel. If you go to the channel home page directly you won’t get it. But on a page for a video, click the name of the channel, and you will get something like this:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw5WYtMXQ799GErKpvR_5Rw

That long code that begins with UC is what you want, and no matter what the channel, it will always start with UC. Copy that code to your clipboard.

Then, go to any one of the videos from this channel, and it will have a URL like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoTaDTLH1Aw

To this URL, you want to add to the end “&list=”, and then paste in the code you copied to the clipboard:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoTaDTLH1Aw&list=UCw5WYtMXQ799GErKpvR_5Rw

Then, in the code pasted in, replace the Capital C in the beginning UC with a capital U, making it UU, and then hit Enter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoTaDTLH1Aw&list=UUw5WYtMXQ799GErKpvR_5Rw

The video will start from the beginning, and on the right you will see a block that says “Uploads from name_of_channel”, and under that, it will say “1/#_of_videos”. You now have a playlist of all of the videos in this channel. Under the numbers there are two buttons, one for Loop, the other for Shuffle. If you are making a playlist of music videos, you are probably done at this point. But the playlist starts with the most recent video, and works backwards from there. For what I want to do, something more is required.

Getting the Order Right

What YouTube does not do is give you a button to reverse the order. For this, I use a Google Chrome Plugin called Iridium, which is available in the Google Chrome Web Store. This is a useful plugin for a number of things, and is really a way to add features to YouTube that Google didn’t think of. Once it is installed, click the icon, and go to the section “Video”, and in the section Playlist make sure it has turned on Enable Reverse Playlist Control. With that done, go back to the page that had the playlist you created, and you will now see a third control added, which lets you reverse the order of the playlist.

Then I found I needed to get it to go back to the beginning.So I scrolled Up as far as I could, and clicked on the top video. A moment later I could scroll up some more, click the top video, and so on. The very first video will have the number equal to the total number of videos in the channel. Once I get there, I can play the first video, and because it is a playlist, it will go automatically to the next video when one video is done.

The Iridium plugin is a Chrome plugin, so once you have installed it you can create additional playlists for other channels without repeating this part of the setup. Just create the playlist using the steps above, and then click the reverse button and you are good to go.

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