In this guide I will list all major desktop YouTube players available today for Linux users. While many popular apps like youtube-dl are available for downloading YouTube videos on Linux, this article will mainly focus on those apps that allows you to search and stream videos on a Desktop Linux PC without having to open a browser. In many cases, these apps will provide advanced functionality than official YouTube website where most of the options are hidden behind a login.
So let’s get started.
Pros: Lightweight, easy to use clutter free interface
Minitube is a desktop YouTube application that aims to deliver a TV like experience on the Linux desktop. While being light on resources, it supports lots of YouTube features like a powerful search engine, filters for inappropriate content and channel subscriptions that too without any need to login. Minitube doesn’t require a browser to search and stream videos, thus it preserves battery life. You will also get regular notifications about new video uploads in any of the channels you have to subscribed to in the minitube.
Downloadable packages for minitube can be found here.
Pros: A command line interface is also available, provides the ability to download videos
Cons: User interface is not intuitive
Youtube-viewer / Gtk-youtube-viewer is a lightweight application for searching and streaming videos from YouTube. Written in Perl, this app supports playing videos in a player of your choice and allows you to fine tune search results using all the typical filters available in the official YouTube website. It can display video metadata like video length, number of views, likes and dislikes and comments. It also allows you to log in to your YouTube account enabling two way sync.
Youtube-viewer packages can be downloaded from here.
Pros: Can open multiple videos in tabs
MotionBox is a free, open source and ad-free desktop app that allows you to browse and stream Torrents, YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo and SoundCloud videos using DuckDuckGo search API. It features a dark mode, audio only mode and the ability to stream videos upto 4K.
MotionBox for Ubuntu can be downloaded from here.
Pros: Cross platform tool really useful for those looking for terminal based apps
Cons: Customization and setup takes a few commands, not beginner friendly
Mps-youtube is a command line utility to search and play audio and video from YouTube. It can also import YouTube playlists, create and save local playlists, download audio or video, show video comments, convert video to mp3 and other formats etc. Installation instructions for various Linux distributions can be found here.
To run mps-youtube, use the command below:
Search example: To search for “Linux”, you have to use a command like this inside mps-youtube terminal:
Note that by default, mps-youtube plays audio only. To enable video playback, you have to run the command below while mps-youtube is running in a terminal.
You can know more about all the features and customization options by typing “help” inside mps-youtube console.
Pros: Privacy oriented
Cons: Feels more like a website than a native app
FreeTube desktop app is available for Windows, Mac and Linux and it can be downloaded from here.
Pros: Also supports streaming services other than YouTube
Cons: Linux app looks and behaves like a macOS app, no native theming
Kaku is a free and open source music and video player that supports different online platforms like YouTube, SoundCloud, Vimeo etc. Built in Electron, it is available for Windows, Linux and macOS. Some of the Kaku features include DJ mode, local watch history, play queue, ability to import YouTube playlists, desktop notifications and region selection.
Linux packages for Kaku can be downloaded from here.
This marks the end of this article. Even though the options are very limited for Linux YouTube apps, these apps bake in a lot of additional features over the official YouTube website like audio only music player mode, ability to download videos and dark mode. My personal favorite of all these apps is Minitube, a simple, elegant and fully functional app that is a pleasure to use.