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How to Use YouTube Feather beta for low-bandwidth connections

Is YouTube loading slow because of your less-than-awesome Internet connection? Try this alternative method of viewing the Web site.

When you load a video on YouTube, you’re getting a lot more than just something to watch. There’s an information panel that goes along with the video mentioning credits, keywords, and other interesting tidbits. Below the video and top comments, you’ll find video responses to the one you’re watching. On the right-hand side of the page, you’ll see a long list of suggested videos that might be related to the one you’re watching. All of these things, along with less obvious ones like buttons that interact with each comment for thumbs up/down, are slowing you down.

YouTube Feather removes the information panel, share button, most of the related videos, video responses, vote counts on each comment, the medium-size player option, like and dislike counts for the video, and the capability to add the video to a list. Sounds pretty stripped down, right? That’s kind of the idea: get the video to play without worrying about all the other stuff around it. You’ll definitely still see some ads (unless you have them blocked), but that’s how they make money! And if you’re wondering why you think you’ve heard of YouTube Feather on CNET before… it’s because you probably read Josh Lowensohn’s coverage on it in 2009. Yep, that’s right, it’s still in beta — though a few tweaks have been made since then.

Ready to test it out? Head over to the YouTube Feather beta page. Once there, just click on “Join the ‘Feather’ Beta” and you’ll see the changes on the next video you open. Please note: videos will load in their standard quality with YouTube Feather activated on your account.

If you start viewing a video and feel the removal of the extra bells and whistles has left a void in your YouTube experience, you can easily switch back. And the greatest feature is that it allows you to toggle it off just for the current video, or permanently if you’re just not feeling the minimal interface. These options are located in the floating blue box on the right-hand side of the video pages.

I am not a low-bandwidth user myself, but I actually prefer YouTube Feather to the regular version. I’ve always found that the many videos and buttons draw my eyes away from what I’m trying to watch. For me, all that’s missing is the capability to hide all comments and also dim everything but the video you’re watching. What would you change about YouTube?

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