YouTube in recent years has been increasing the number of ads that viewers see in and between videos, all in an attempt to get more people to subscribe to its YouTube Premium plan, which removes all ads for a monthly fee, amongst other benefits.
If you're a regular user of YouTube, paying a few dollars a month to enjoy an ad-free experience is probably worth the outlay, especially if you use the native YouTube app. Otherwise, you might be wondering if there's another way to reduce the deluge of ads you see that avoids you having to sign up to another subscription service.
The most popular way to achieve this is by installing adblocking software and watching YouTube through a browser. There are several free adblocking extensions available for popular web browsers that claim to be able to strip YouTube videos of ads, but not all of them work consistently, and some can even prevent YouTube videos from playing altogether.
If you use Safari on a Mac or iPhone/iPad, however, there's an extension you can install that does a lot more than just remove unwanted ads from YouTube. Developed by Zhenyi Tan, Vinegar is a Safari extension that replaces the entire native YouTube player with a minimalist HTML playback interface, similar to the now defunct YouTube5 Safari extension when Flash was still a thing.
Vinegar brings with it several associated benefits, not least of which is the removal of in-video ads. It also prevents YouTube from tracking your playback activity, restores picture-in-picture functionality, and offers an audio-only stream to keep YouTube sound playing when Safari is in the background.
In addition, the latest version of Vinegar supports 4K video, provides a toggle for Theater mode, and resolves timestamped URLs. Vinegar is a one-off $1.99 purchase on the App Store, and it's a universal extension, which means the same version works on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It also works on both YouTube's website and on videos embedded on third-party websites.