My internet connection is quite slow (128 kbps while browsing) and I want to know if I can disable video streaming on YouTube and listen only to the audio portion.

There are many songs on YouTube that I want to listen to with no need to watch the video. Will the streaming rate increase?

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  • I do not believe the audio and video are on different files at youtube so streaming then separately or ony 1 of them seems very hard. – Mythje May 23 '11 at 13:41
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    yes that is the whole point...... any workarounds – t0mkaka May 23 '11 at 13:44
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    It is now possible to download the audio and video parts of a youtube video separately, directly from youtube. The command-line tool youtube-dl can do this. Use the -F option to list available formats, and the -f option to select an audio-only format (e.g. 140 or 141). I'm not aware of any webapp which assists with this, or any way to get the youtube site to play audio-only. – Sam Watkins Oct 27 '15 at 9:56
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    @Minimihi, no, that is not correct. We can download the AAC audio part separately using youtube-dl, and even play it while it's downloading. I have done this dozens of times. For most HD videos, the command to download the best audio stream is youtube-dl -f 141 $URL. I would post this as an answer, but I can't do that because certain other muffin-heads posted bad answers so the question is locked down a bit. I'll go seek some reputation and come back later! – Sam Watkins Jan 24 '16 at 23:15
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    I know this is an old question but I found extension for Chrome called "Audio Only Youtube" that does just that. Hope that helps. – Vladimir Oselsky Mar 1 '17 at 14:38
up vote 18 down vote accepted

A service like FetchMP3 creates an MP3 version of the audio in the YouTube video. Other services which can do this include Listen To YouTube and Save YouTube

  • Here's another one: offliberty.com, can also download video, works with multiple sites, has a bookmarklet, etc. I think it's the original / classic among such sites. – Sam Watkins Jan 25 '16 at 0:50
  • These tools allow you to download the audio file, but what about streaming audio? – chharvey Feb 27 at 20:37

There's an extension for Chrome, called "Audio Only Youtube" that does just that: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/audio-only-youtube/pkocpiliahoaohbolmkelakpiphnllog

Audio only youtube enabled] (NB: this also allows you to scrobble the tracks to Last.fm, eg: with this extension: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/lastfm-scrobbler/hhinaapppaileiechjoiifaancjggfjm )

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    There is a same extension for Firefox: addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/youtube-audio. – Danijel Aug 30 '17 at 7:31
  • does this Chrome extension actually block from downloading the video, or does it just hide the video from the user? The whole point of streaming audio is to disable video to save bandwidth/data. Asking because I read the extension reviews. – chharvey Feb 27 at 20:36

Try http://navarr.me/ytaudio/

You usually need to check the "Allow YouTube to collect cookies" option for it to work. I've been using it with my slow DSL service and for things you want to hear and don't care about video, it works great.

  • looks interesting. are you sure it is only streaming audio part of video, even in background? – Kostanos Apr 28 '14 at 15:57
  • Works great! Yes cookies have to allowed for it to work. – tutak May 30 '14 at 20:11
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    I think you're misinformed, this simply generates an embeded YouTube player, if you set the video to none it simply hides the playback. See the render code for the app here: github.com/navarr/ytaudio/blob/master/src/AudioPlayer.php#L842 – Aren Jul 10 '15 at 22:04
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    ..or see the description: "YTAudio does not extract the audio from YouTube videos, nor does it eliminate the overhead of processing YouTube videos when playing the files." – Greg Dubicki Oct 23 '15 at 11:59

There are a lot of solutions in Linux, under this U&L question. See details there, where also some solutions mentioned are cross-platform.

The general idea is that a YouTube track can be played as audio-only if:

  • it is played in a video player with some 'no video' argument or
  • only the audio stream is sent to an external player

To send the YouTube track stream to the player the simplest way is probably SMTube - more here.

Open SMTube, search your title, right click on it, and select Open audio with:

enter image description here

Another cross-platform solution is to use Firefox with some add-ons: FlashGot or OpenWith.

See here how to use Firefox with FlashGot add-on or with OpenWith add-on in order to start YouTube (and other) videos in external players.

In FlashGot options the arguments can be added like here:

FlashGot Options

In OpenWith addon options, select Edit>Arguments, like here:

OpenWith settings

FlashGot add-on for Firefox can also select just the audio stream of the YouTube video as seen under the link above.

Selections look like so, after right-clicking the FlashGot icon that appears when playing the YouTube video in Firefox, and selecting 'Available formats'

FlashGot available formats

then 'DASH (separate audio and video tracks)' after selecting 'DASH'

In this case, audio-only players can be used - some work and some don't (as far as I can tell testing in Linux, Audacious works). I will update this after testing more.

One of the best players to be used in this way is mpv as video player. The command mpv --no-video will start it without video, but also without any GUI or window: to enable window/GUI in all cases, add profile=pseudo-gui in its config file, as indicated here; in Linux it's ~/.mpv/config, for Windows look here, or, just use another argument:

Example for Linux:

mpv --no-video --profile=pseudo-gui

To start VLC without video the commands are :

cvlc --vout none <URL>
cvlc --no-video <URL>

But from my experience mpv works better that VLC for this purpose.

If you just want to listen to a song then use Pandora or Last.FM. Other web services out there just like these two.

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    Pandora is not available outside US. Last.fm is paid-only outside US & UK – Sathya May 25 '11 at 4:35
  • @Sathya Media Hint may help. I'm in Spain and listening to Pandora. – Jake Berger May 23 '14 at 19:41

I'd suggest loading the video(s) in separate tabs. Pause them as soon as they start, come back and listen to them once they have fully loaded. This should give you adequate time to compensate for your internet connection.

  • this doesn't work anymore. youtube only streams on demand as you need the content. – anon58192932 Apr 6 '15 at 19:52

I 'listen' to YouTube videos all the time while I am working on my laptop.

...I minimize the video and voila I only get audio.

Hope this helps.

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    I think this would not help, because @t0mkaka looks for a solution that does not transfer the video at all, since his internet connection is quite slow. Secondly, it would save traffic. – Tim Büthe Aug 16 '13 at 15:05
  • This answer made my day... – Kyslik Sep 1 '16 at 19:29

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