Get the RSS feed for a YouTube channel

I’m fan of RSS feeds: They provide me with easy and quick overviews for a lot of website updates (and after Google Reader was shut down, I set up my own Tiny Tiny RSS instance). Unfortunately, YouTube made it a bit more complicated to get the required feeds some time ago, but it’s still possible.

Some background info

A lot of corporations are no fans of RSS, because the can’t sell advertisments that way (well, I guess they could try to incorporate ads into the feeds, but I doubt it would be appreciated by the people…): With a RSS feed reader, you go straight to the specific entry/linked article (or even read it in the Feed Reader, if the whole article is provived in the feed), instead of lingering on the homepage, browsing around longer (and watch advertisement).

Another reason for me: I prefer to centralize my update notifications, if possible. So if I can get news about new YouTube videos in my RSS feeds without visiting YouTube, then I’m happy.

In the past, YouTube had easy to find links to the channel’s RSS feeds, and also Mozilla Firefox found them easily enough. Unfortunately, both have sufferend in recent years: YouTube doesn’t make them easily available anymore and Firefox also gave up on RSS.

So, things got harder, but not impossible…

Get the RSS feed for a single YouTube channel

  1. Get the Channel-ID

    1. Get the Channel ID directly from the URL; for example https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrTNhL_yO3tPTdQ5XgmmWjA
      Here, the UCrTNhL_yO3tPTdQ5XgmmWjA part is the Channel-ID.

    2. If the URL is personalized with a name (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/user/ChrisStuckmann), use plan B:\

      1. Open the page, then open the HTML view of the page1.
      2. Search for the string vnd.youtube://www.youtube.com/channel/ in that view.
      3. That string will be followed by the Channel-ID and some other stuff after the ?, in which we’re not interested in:
        We just need the ID before the question mark:
        vnd.youtube://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCqEeDAUf4Mg0GgEN658tkA?feature=applinks",...
  2. Use the Channel-ID for your RSS reader of choice: Subsribe to https://www.youtube.com/channel/<Channel-ID>

Export and import all YouTube subscriptions

If you have subscriptions in your YouTube account itself, you can export all of them to an OPML file and them import them with your RSS reader of choice (note: May be out of date already, haven’t checked):

  1. Log in to YouTube, go to the Manage Subscriptions page.
  2. On the right, there should be an item “Export to RSS readers”, click Export subscriptions.
  3. The OPML file named “subscription_manager.xml” will be downloaded.
  4. Import that OPML file in your RSS reader.

  1. For Mozilla Firefox: Tools -> Web Developer -> Page Source (Ctrl+U) or open the context menu (right-click on the page) and select Page Source ↩︎