There’s an extension for Chrome, called “Audio Only Youtube” that does just that:
(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 )
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
- 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:
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:
In OpenWith addon options, select Edit>Arguments, like here:
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’
then ‘DASH (separate audio and video tracks)’
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.
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.
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.