Adblock Plus does a great job of blocking ads on desktops and laptops, but on “app” devices like phones and TVs, ad blocking simply isn’t available. This isn’t a solution for blocking ads during casual browsing of YouTube on mobile and TV apps, but it’s a great way to get videos you know you’ll want to watch later and watch them on “app” devices with no more ad breaks ruining everything. You need two things: Sebaro’s SaveTube (and a browser extension like Greasemonkey to enable running user scripts if your browser doesn’t have native user script support) and a Plex Media Server setup. I can’t explain in this post how to install browser extensions like Greasemonkey or Tampermonkey and add SaveTube to it, nor can I explain how to install and set up Plex, but your favorite search engine and the Plex website can tell you everything you need to know.
- Install SaveTube.
- Have Plex installed, set up, and working. You’ll need Plex Media Server on your computer and the Plex app on your phone, tablet, TV, Chromecast, Roku, or whatever you happen to own.
- Create a new folder for your YouTube videos and add it to your Plex Media Server. Call it “YouTube videos” or whatever you like and classify the folder in Plex as “other videos.”
- Open a video you’d like to watch without ads. SaveTube should appear at the bottom right corner of the screen if you have it installed properly.
- Click “Get” in SaveTube to save a copy of the video to your computer. This defaults to the highest resolution MP4 that contains both audio and video in a single file. In general, you can’t download 1080p or 4K content already in this “muxed” file format, so it’s best not to mess with the default choice. SaveTube’s red-orange options are called “DASH streams” and contain ONLY audio or ONLY video, meaning you’ll have to remux the separate streams if you want the options that aren’t available in blue. As you can tell by now, it’s easiest to just hit “Get” and leave the other SaveTube options alone.
- Repeast steps 4 and 5 for every video you want.
- Move the YouTube video(s) you downloaded to the folder you made and added to Plex.
- Open the Plex Media Server web portal, click “…” to the right of your YouTube video library, and have it “scan library files.” This will refresh the list of available videos with your new additions.
- Open Plex on your device of choice and enjoy the videos you fetched 100% ad-free!
Legal disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, but for a layperson I have a fairly strong understanding of copyright law. It is my non-professional opinion that the actions taken here do not constitute copyright infringement or a violation of the non-circumvention provisions of the DMCA. YouTube’s page code has a block of text called “var ytplayer” that contains unencrypted URLencoded URLs to these video streams and there are no access controls on the server that restrict you from accessing videos through the links in that block of code. As long as you follow standard copyright law restrictions for the content (no redistribution, no public exhibition, etc.) this should be 100% legal. If you’re asking why this would be legal when “YouTube-to-MP3 sites” aren’t, it’s because those sites engage in redistribution of content which is an action protected by copyright. In fact, you can do the MP3 conversion yourself if you use SaveTube to download a “medium bitrate audio MP4” and use a free conversion tool like ffmpeg, Audacity, or Format Factory to convert the .m4a file to .mp3 format instead.
If you’re an attorney (a real attorney, not a person like me that simply thinks they’re smart and probably isn’t) and you believe that this procedure is not legal, please feel free to contact me and explain.