How To Reset Your Youtube Subscriptions

Youtube is great; you can watch hundreds of hours of entertaining videos or learn almost anything you want just by doing a few searches and watching the videos that turn up.

But Youtube has some flaws, and one of those is the subscription system. If you use Youtube on a regular basis, you know that most channels encourage you to subscribe to them so you can stay up to date with their videos.

Obviously, after a while, you may end up being subscribed to hundreds or even thousands of Youtube channels.  What happens then is that Youtube can't notify you of all the updates. It wouldn't be practical.

Youtube came up with a solution for this, and they introduced the "subscription bell," a little icon that is available next to the subscription button on each channel. This bell icon lets you tell YouTube that you want "all notifications" from this channel. You can think of it as a priority status for that subscription compared to the other subscriptions.

But this doesn't solve the problem of too many notifications. You may have a thousand subscriptions and clicked the bell on 300 of those to receive all their alerts. But if those 300 channels are very active, then this is not a solution either.

unsubscribe photo
Photo by eddiedangerous

I got sick of this notification mayhem and decided to unsubscribe from all Youtube channels so I could start from a blank slate. I went to the Youtube settings to look for a way to unsubscribe from all channels. No luck! Youtube wouldn't want me to unsubscribe from all channels because it would go against their goal to keep me on their site for a longer period of time.

So I went to use one of my favorite tools to make an unsubscribe script for Youtube. This tool is called iMacros, it's free. Even though it works with Firefox or Chrome, I think it works much better with Firefox, so that's what I used.

The following video shows you how it works and some of the basics. After the video, there are a few notes and also a download option for the script so you can just start using it yourself right away.

How to unsubscribe from all youtube channels, notes.

You need to install iMacros as an extension for Firefox.

If you want to subscribe to some channels after you have unsubscribed from all, I recommend that you back up your subscriptions first. You'll find the backup option on the bottom right of your Subscription management page. This option will let you download an OPML file which you can read with an RSS reader like Feedly.

Use this unsubscribe method at your own risk! Youtube doesn't have an interest in making it easy to mass-unsubscribe from all channels; they have an interest in selling advertising. One of their goals is to keep you on the site as long as possible, and they accomplish this by trying to show you content you would be interested in based on your previous watch history and subscriptions.

Using a script to unsubscribe is probably not something Youtube would endorse or encourage so use it your own risk. It's for this reason that I deliberately made the script with lots of pauses and time delays. The script is intended to be convenient, not to be fast.

If you are pushing the boundaries and Youtube decides to prevent you from unsubscribing quickly, you'll see a screen like this when running the script:

All you have to do at that point is wait a minute or two and then start the script again.

You can run the script manually, and it will unsubscribe you from 25 channels. Just use the "Play" button.

To run the script mostly automatically you should use the "Play (Loop)" option and specify the "Max" number of loops to run through. I ran the script ten times at a time, and this made it so that I unsubscribed from about 250 channels at a time. See screenshot below:

You'll notice that the script has a screenshot command, this is to take a screenshot of your subscriptions before it unsubscribes you from the first 25 listed on that page. If you don't want to keep screenshots, you can just delete that entire line. Screenshots are saved to the designated "Downloads" folder for iMacros.

If you want to remove the time delays (not recommended), you can delete the lines that say this:

SET !VAR1 EVAL("var randomNumber=Math.floor(Math.random()*4 + 2); randomNumber;")

I recommend if you're going to "loop" the script to do a few hundred unsubscriptions at a time, you leave the last time delay so that there's a pause each time that the loop starts over. This delay may prevent Youtube from flagging your account or limiting you and showing you the 504 error I described above.

I was able to run the script on ten loops, and it only gave me the 504 error twice, depending on your Youtube usage and other factors you may not see it at all or you may see it more frequently. If you see the error every time it loops, you should log out of Youtube, clear your cache and log back in.

For more documentation and information on iMacros, you may want to take a look at the extensive documentation they offer in their Wiki here.

The script is here. Download it to your computer, put it into one of the iMacro folders, then play it through Firefox using the iMacro commands.

The script is here Download it to your computer, put it into one of the iMacro folders, then play it through Firefox using the iMacro commands.

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