Minitube – A Standalone YouTube Video Player

August 20, 2013
mt02Linux is replete with useful but obscure programs. One such program is Minitube, which allows you to watch YouTube videos without navigating the YouTube web site.

Minitube presents videos–and videos only–in an easy-to-use interface that resembles a standard media player. The simple design is clean, and video playback is as good as the YouTube web site.

While the concept has been around for while, the execution is well done. After using Minitube on Linux Mint 15, I find it more enjoyable than the YouTube web site itself.


Minitube is available in the repository, so go to Administration > Software Manager to install it.



“Welcome to Minitube” will appear when you start the program.


Minitube welcomes you! Start searching to watch.

You can search for videos by keyword or channel, or you can browse through video categories.


Browse videos by category. The thumbnails update to reflect video changes on the YouTube site.

If you have watched any previous videos, their keywords will appear because Minitube remembers a list of recent searches. The search history can be cleared anytime with CTRL + Shift + Delete.


Click on any of the recent keywords to perform a quick search. Minitube maintains a search history.

Suppose we search for videos by keyword. In the screenshot below, a playlist of related videos appears in the left panel while the current video is shown on the right. Some of the video will buffer before playback commences.


The buffering screen. The white, horizontal bar shows the video buffering progress. Playback begins as soon as possible. There is usually little waiting, depending upon the video.

Above is the result of searching by keyword. Double click on a video in the playlist to play it in the video window if autoplay mode is off.

Displaying Channel Videos

If searching by keyword, the playlist will contain a list of random but (hopefully) related videos. Clicking on the video uploader/channel located under a video’s title in the playlist will display a playlist of all videos from that channel–ten at a time.

In the example screenshot above, we clicked “CRussman” to produce the playlist shown in the screenshot below.


The playlist shows all videos from one channel and lists them by date with the newest at the top.

This makes it very easy to sort and play programming tutorials. Yes, you can do this on YouTube also, but this is a standalone program. It might not seem like much, but this is incredibly convenient. However, you might need to click “Show 10 More” repeatedly to find the first video in a tutorial series since the most recent video is listed first.

In some listings, the latest videos are not always displayed at the top. Even when listing all videos from a channel, you might still need to click on the channel name again in order to organize them by date.

Other Features

Find a video you like? Download it by clicking the download button. The playlist pane shows 10 videos at a time. To view more, scroll to the bottom of the playlist and click “Show 10 More.”

You can advance to the next video in the playlist by clicking the Skip button.

Fullscreen mode is supported, and moving the mouse to the left edge of the screen while in full-screen mode makes the playlist appear. No need to exit full-screen mode to switch videos.

If you find a video you like, you can open its associated YouTube page to view its complete information. The associated browser opens and shows the page, not Minitube.

Keep in mind that there are no advanced video modifications, such as aspect correction and filter effects similar to those found in VLC. This is meant to be a simple player, and it performs its intended purpose well.

Switching Resolutions

The button in the lower right cycles through available resolutions (240/360/480/720/1080…it depends upon what the video supports). However, the resolution does not change while the video is playing like it does on the YouTube site. You must switch to a different video and then restart the video you wish to view. The video will reload and play in the new resolution.

Advancing Through a Video

A progress slider  allows you to jump to different parts of the video to fast-forward or rewind. However, the video must sufficiently buffer enough data before this is possible, so immediate skipping is not possible. In some videos, I had to wait for 50% buffering before the slider would work.

One Issue

Minitube locked up. Quite a few times, in fact. When dragging the progress slider to advance to different parts of a video, too much sliding caused Minitube to lock up for about five minutes and then display a “Minitube is not responding” dialog.


Too much fast-forwarding and reversing through a video resulted in a frozen Minitube and this dialog.

I chose “Force Quit” and then restarted Minitube. Videos played again.

Minitube would also lockup during some videos even though the same videos play fine from the YouTube web site. Any kind of lockup would require waiting for the “not responding” dialog or performing a process kill using the Minitube PID.

Clutter-free Interface

The clean, clutter-free interface is the number one reason why I find Minitube appealing.


Just a playlist, a few controls, and the video. No comments. No visually distraction elements. Plain and simple.

Less visual clutter leads to less mental clutter and distractions. It is easy to focus only on the videos I intend to watch without being overwhelmed by the other content that appears on a typical YouTube page.

Gone are the inane comments. Farewell to the Likes, the cluttered icons, and the visually distracting text. Goodbye to the unrelated video suggestions (most of the time). Minitube frees the mind from those things and focuses solely on what counts: The videos.

This is valuable when viewing a series of related videos, such as programming tutorials. One tutorial plays after the other without annoying distractions vying for attention. The videos. Focus on the videos.

“I can do all of this with X player. Why bother with Minitube?”

This is certainly true, but Minitube makes it so easy to do that a browser feels…slow. There are plenty of helpful programming tutorials available on YouTube, and Minitube seems like a good player for presenting them.

Memory usage is another factor. Minitube consumes about 30 MB while playing one 720p video, while Firefox consumes about 170 MB when playing the exact same video at 720p (only one tab open).


  • No exposure to comments
  • Clutter-free
  • Easy to use
  • No unrelated videos popping up
  • No need for a web browser
  • Search for videos by keyword or channel
  • Easy video downloading
  • Less memory usage than Firefox
  • Convenient


  • Might lock up due to excessive slider dragging
  • Additional lockups
  • Playback resolutions do not change dynamically

Minitube’s About information.


Minitube. Yes, there is life outside the browser, and this program is a pleasant discovery.

When it comes to watching videos, there is very little difference between watching them in Minitube or on YouTube. However, if you are the socially-needy type who craves the opinions of others and devours comments, then you will need to use the YouTube web site since that information is (thankfully) absent from Minitube. The same applies for any other type of interactivity, such as liking a video, posting a comment, or uploading your own video. If all you want to do is focus on watching videos, Minitube is superb and feels like a TV dedicated station.

Minitube is available free of charge for Linux, Mac, and Windows, though the author asks for a donation. More details can be found on the Minitube web site.

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