The so-called Classic design was YouTube’s signature look until 2019 and early 2020 when they made a comprehensive overhaul. The rarity of such major undertakings is due to work hours required for their creating, testing, and deploying, but also people who dislike novelty. And, even though both processes can take years, some people never adjust. It’s easy to see why; some features are inevitably lost, and the aesthetics of the new UI may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Luckily, other like-minded folks with development experience usually come to the rescue. It is exactly those individuals that make learning how to restore YouTube Classic possible. Let’s get into it.
Don’t edit the preference cookie in Chromium browsers
If you’ve researched this topic before coming here, you noticed the majority of guides mention that external tools are unnecessary. Instead, they instruct you to open a Chromium-based browser and do this:
- Open Chrome Developer Mode by pressing Ctrl + Shift + I.
- Switch to the Applications tab.
- Click on Cookies under “Storage”.
- Click on “https://youtube.com”, then edit the text next to PREF with, for example, “f6=8”.
Note. Although the instructions haven’t changed, nothing will happen and you’d waste time. These guides date to the years 2019 and 2020, when the old YouTube design was on its way out.
How did the method work?
The method relies on editing YouTube’s PREF cookie to change the page configuration preferences. For this to happen, the cookie that retains the YouTube Classic design must exist on at least one Google server, hence why the instructions on what to enter varied. The authors of these guides simply kept updating the text (to reflect server changes) as Google slowly rolled out the new layout worldwide. When the last region or country transitioned to the new layout, there was no need to store the old YouTube layout settings any further. That’s why editing the cookie nowadays makes no difference.
1. Restore YouTube Classic using a browser extension
Now you know that third-party solutions are a way to go. It is, then, time to choose the one that fits your needs best, or, at the very least, works. YouTube often makes changes that make the extensions stop working. As the userbase dwindles, the developers may stop making updates, and a lot of projects get abandoned. With that acknowledged, let’s cover the instructions for adding extensions, then specify a few examples.
Installing the browser extension
There isn’t a lot to master, since the choice is limited to the browsers we mentioned in method 3 of restoring YouTube annotations. Here’s where this method differs:
- Disregard the extension we mentioned, since it was specific to that guide.
- Don’t visit the Releases section unless you find an extension with a GitHub page. The procedure of installing from a .zip file applies as described.
- Although we didn’t mention it, the Chromium guide will also work with the newer Microsoft Edge browser.
Choosing which browser extension to install
Before we list a few representatives, know that we aren’t affiliated with any of them. We simply observed they still seem to work, but we can’t know for how long. They may stop getting updated, only to be resurrected by another developer. Or, more likely, removed from the Chrome Web Store. After all, it’s in Google’s best interest to enforce the new design. That’s why we gave multiple examples and didn’t provide links, and we trust you to vet the website before downloading. With that said, here are 4 browser extensions that can restore YouTube Classic design:
1. Good Old YouTube
Good Old YouTube was removed from the Chrome Web Store in 2021 but remains available through direct downloads. It’s still on the Mozilla Add-Ons page, but the creator paused the updates. All it does is revert to old YouTube design – nothing less, nothing more. Therefore, it’s the best choice for low-spec computers or low-speed/metered Internet connections.
2. Restore Classic for YouTube
Restore Classic for YouTube is no longer available on the Chrome Web Store as of late 2020, yet remains available for download on other websites. Like Good Old YouTube, it only does what it says, converts YouTube to retro appearance and design, without any bells and whistles.
3. YouTube Redux
YouTube Redux is a step-up compared to the ones above. It’s also still available on both Chrome Web Store and the Mozilla Add-On store. Besides restoring the YouTube Classic video layout, it also brings a host of quality of life improvements to it. For example, it makes the layout drastically more compact and allows enabling of Dark Theme. Also, you can get rid of infinite comment scrolling, set the number of videos per row, view accurate like/dislike numbers, set it to unpause videos automatically, etc.
4. Improve YouTube (Last resort)
This is a lightweight Chrome-only extension that doesn’t help retrieve YouTube Classic design specifically. However, it can get you pretty close to it, since you can simplify and reorganize the UI (User Interface) to your liking. Like YouTube Redux, it also comes with a wide array of functional improvements, many of which YouTube removed or never added.
2. Revert to YouTube Classic via a script
This method also requires a browser extension, although one may already have – we’re referring to a user script manager. Unfortunately, YouTube patched the script in step 5, so it no longer works. However, it tells you precisely what to do as soon as someone fixes it or comes up with a new one. When that happens, follow these steps to recover YouTube Classic design:
- Install a user script manager browser extension using instructions in method 1.
- We’ll use TamperMonkey for the demonstration. It’s available in Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Safari.
- Click the TamperMonkey icon in the extension bar in the top right corner.
- From the drop-down menu, click on Create a new script…
- Paste your YouTube user script. Here’s an example.
- Give it a name, then click on File > Save from the top menu.
- Click on Installed Userscripts in the top right corner.
- Toggle the switch to on.