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How to make YouTube five times faster if you don’t use Chrome

How to make YouTube five times faster if you don’t use Chrome

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Google launched a new YouTube design nearly a year ago, but if you’ve been using Edge, Safari, or Firefox then you’ve probably wondered why YouTube is loading so slowly. Mozilla program manager Chris Peterson has highlighted the issue this week, and it’s not your alternative browser that’s to blame. Google’s redesign still relies on a deprecated shadow DOM API that’s only implemented in Chrome, making other browsers render YouTube five times slower.

It’s the latest case of Google building and tuning its web services so they work better or only work in the company’s Chrome browser. Google Meet, Allo, YouTube TV, Google Earth, and YouTube Studio Beta have all blocked Microsoft Edge in the past, and Google Meet, Google Earth, and YouTube TV have all also been blocked if you use Firefox. Google even blocked its Google Maps service on Windows Phone years ago in a passive-aggressive move that it eventually reversed. It’s an ongoing problem that means Chrome is slowly turning into the next Internet Explorer 6.

Microsoft Edge (left) loads YouTube far slower than Chrome (right)
Microsoft Edge (left) loads YouTube far slower than Chrome (right)

Google could fix the YouTube loading issues

While YouTube still works on non-Chrome browsers, it often loads far slower while you wait for the page elements to fill. It’s a daily problem that makes you think your internet connection is slow or your browser is broken. YouTube also encourages users to download and install Chrome with various pop-up notifications, and if you do then you’ll notice YouTube will load instantly. Google could update YouTube to use Polymer 2.0 or even 3.0 which both support the deprecated API, but the company has decided to stick to using Polymer 1.0 that was originally released in 2015. It’s an odd decision, especially when you consider that Polymer is an open-source JavaScript library that is developed by Google Chrome engineers.

Thankfully, there’s a way to force YouTube back to the old redesign and avoid the slow loading issues on non-Chrome browsers. Reverting back will mean you’ll lose the updated design and the dark mode feature in YouTube, though. Firefox users can download a YouTube classic extension to force the site to load properly, while Safari and Edge users will need to use a custom Tampermonkey user script to get the classic design.

Edge users:

  1. Download Tampermonkey for Edge from the Microsoft Store
  2. Enable Tampermonkey in settings > extensions within Edge
  3. Download this user script to force YouTube to the classic mode

Safari users:

  1. Download Tampermonkey for Safari
  2. Safari will prompt you to Trust or Cancel the installation to enable Tampermonkey
  3. Download this user script to force YouTube to the classic mode