Realized I should probably just do more short-form stream of consciousness posts and things I’m tinkering with. This will be my first ox-hugo post of essentially tossing them into one giant .org file. Going to try use this method from now on unless it’s like some sort of mega-article.

TODO Background

Okay, I’m sure y’all have notice Google/YouTube going full-on war on adblockers recently and while there’s options such as simply using another browser (I’ve noticed Firefox doesn’t get hit as often) I’ve decided to use this as an excuse to cut down on video consumption.


yt-dlp is a neat fork of youtube-dlp which lets you download directly from youtube (and many other sites). Normally you could use it like thus:

yt-dlp -f mp4\?v\=jNQXAC9IVRw

to simply download the file.


If you’re familiar with emacs, you’re probably familiar with elfeed. The most popular (I think) feed reader for it. For example, I export my blog roll and use that as a compendium of things to read.

Combining Elfeed + yt-dlp

Okay, so the fun thing is in bash you could proceed to pipe yt-dlp to mpv and essentially just watch youtube in your video player. You can then chain this with elfeed because every youtube channel has an RSS feed behind it.

For example this is Xah Lee’s feed.

Getting your feed list

You can export your youtube data by following the instructions here. This gives you what is essentially a dump of all the channel ids, etc. that you’re subscribed to. Then you can bash script / python script, etc. to make it into a list.

import pandas as pd

# Load the CSV file
file_path = '/mnt/data/subscriptions.csv'
subscriptions = pd.read_csv(file_path)

# Check the first few rows to understand the structure of the file

# Generating RSS links for each channel
rss_links = subscriptions['Channel Id'].apply(lambda id: f"{id}")

# Adding the RSS links as a new column to the dataframe
subscriptions['RSS Link'] = rss_links

Importing into emacs

You can then use something like org-elfeed to add all your items into a list (using the aforementioned link as an example) or simply ask GPT or another LLM to format it in such a way as needed (you could even use a web-based RSS reader if you don’t want to use emacs for some reason):

Video :video:noexport:
YouTube :youtube:

This allows you to have all your subscriptions into your RSS reader. You can then add a command / shortcut into your config that pipes it into mpv as such (for example, in my case the b key would normally open it in a browser but now uses mpv). And adding a tag allows you to search only for videos.

(defun mpv-play-url (url &rest args)
  "Play the given URL in MPV."
  (start-process "my-process" nil "mpv"
                        "demuxer-max-back-bytes=3000M" url))

(setq browse-url-handlers
      '(("youtu\\.?be.*\\.xml" . browse-url-default-browser)  ; Open YouTube RSS feeds in the browser
        ("youtu\\.?be" . mpv-play-url)))                      ; Use mpv-play-url for other YouTube URLs


And that’s essentially it. The only annoyances are that if you’re constantly subscribing to new things or watching from the algorithm this isn’t a good workflow. I’m also sure pinging the RSS constantly isn’t great efficiency-wise (the feeds only have the last 15 items although). I, however, only try to check once a day and I tend to watch the same people so I don’t waste time. If nothing else this has lessened me mindlessly refreshing by adding a bit of friction.