YouTube’s subscription feature is a prime example of a feature that has been cut down to its very core to make it as simple as possible and at the same time almost entirely useless.
The Google-owned property removed the option to manage subscriptions in collections in 2015 and with it came the removal of nearly any subscription-related option such as sorting. It is nearly impossible to keep an eye on subscriptions if the count reaches two or even three digits using native functionality especially since subscriptions are barely highlighted anymore on YouTube’s homepage.
Extensions provide the only recourse to the dumbing down; we reviewed YouTube Subscription Manager for Chrome back in 2015 which restored management functionality.
PocketTube offers similar but more advanced functionality. The subscription manager is available for Chrome and Firefox, Apple iOS and Android, and as a web service.
Among the many features that it offers is native integration on YouTube, options to create groups and add subscriptions to groups, sort subscriptions or show last YouTube videos by group.
I looked at the browser extensions for this review.
The extension adds a new entry to YouTube’s sidebar that is called Subscription Groups. The widget lists all available groups and may display the channels added to these groups. One of your first tasks is to create at least one group as you will notice otherwise that the “add to group” dialog displays nothing. The develop should consider adding info to the dialog if no group has been created to assist first-time users.
Once you have created your first group you may add channels to it. Just open any channel page on YouTube and click on the new “plus” icon next to the subscribe(d) and notifications options.
PocketTube displays all available groups and the selection of any adds the channel to that group. Groups can be sorted by date published, A-Z, subscriber count or custom sort order; the latter supports dragging and dropping channels to new positions.
The settings that PocketTube provides list an option to hide channels that you have added to groups from the general subscriptions listing. It is disabled by default though.
One of the best features of PocketTube is the ability to display all recent videos of a group on a new page on YouTube. Instead of having to go through all subscriptions on YouTube, as the site offers no grouping option anymore, you can open videos from a specific group only; very useful. Videos are listed in order of publication starting with the most recent additions. A play all button is provided on the page to play all videos one after the other.
There is more on offer here though. You can add custom icons to collections to make them stand out more if you use multiple groups. Settings may be exported and imported for manual syncing but there is also an option to sync automatically using Google Drive.
PocketTube restores a much needed feature on YouTube and improves it significantly. It is ideal for users of the site who have a medium to large number of subscriptions and want better manageability of these channels. While it takes a moment to set everything up, it is relatively easy to do.
Now You: do you use Youtube’s subscription service?
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