January 27, 2023

Youtube logo
Youtube Skip Ads button

Everybody finds Youtube video ads annoying especially if they happen at a crucial moment in the video you are actually trying to watch. If you don’t want to pay for a premium ad-free Youtube subscription, you could try one of several browser extensions that are available which attempt to block Youtube Ads altogether. Unfortunately, all of these extensions tend to work only to varying degrees for varying lengths of time and it is a safe bet to say that none are or remain 100% effective. One of the major reasons for this is that Youtube itself is likely actively trying to prevent such extensions from working properly. After all, Youtube makes its money from showing you ads or from selling you a subscription to go ad-free. So an ad-blocking extension that might be working today may not work tomorrow as an endless game of cat and mouse plays out between Youtube and the ad-blocking browser extension developers.


Skipping Youtube Ads

Youtube Skip Ads button

One way to get around having to watch so many video ads is to first accept that some video ads (the ones you can’t skip) are always going to show and then concentrate on getting rid of the ads that Youtube actually allows you to skip. The Skip Ads button appears a short time after some video ads start playing providing us with an opportunity to skip both the current ad and any subsequent one. Clicking on the Skip Ads button significantly reduces the number of ads we are forced to watch but requires us to physically interact with the mobile device or computer to accomplish it.

Physical interaction with the touchscreen, keyboard, trackpad or mouse is not always convenient especially when watching longer videos. For example, if you are eating a greasy meal with your hands, or perhaps you are washing up the dishes while entertaining yourself with Youtube, the last thing you want to do is transfer that greasy mess or the water on your hands to your device just to click the Skip Ads button. This often leaves us in the frustrating position of being allowed to skip the Youtube ads but having to resign ourselves to watching them so as not to make a mess of the hardware on which they are playing.

In this age of talking voice assistants, the likes of Alexa, Google and Siri, why do we have to put up with watching a skippable video ad just because we are not able to physically interact with a device? If you are playing the Youtube video on an Apple iPad, iPhone or Apple computer, the answer to this question is you don’t!

On Apple phones, tablets and Macs, there is a built-in mechanism that can be employed to allow us to skip a Youtube video ad with voice alone. It is not perfect, but once you get used to its idiosyncrasies, it is far better than having to feel frustrated any time you see the Skip Ads button on a Youtube video ad and are not able to physically click on it.

Skipping Youtube Ads on your iPhone or iPad

Ideally, Apple’s personal assistant, Siri, should be able to be called upon to deal with Youtube video ad-skipping on your behalf. Unfortunately, the best Siri can do at the moment is to skip to the next Youtube video (try 'Hey Siri, skip') which is not very useful if you just want to skip the ads.

The Apple operating system, however, has another more ancient voice control system. Known as Voice Control, when it is enabled, you can essentially control almost anything on your Apple device using your voice alone, including being able to vocally 'click' on the Skip Ads button when it next appears on Youtube.

On a Apple mobile device such as an iPad or iPhone, Voice Control can be activated by going into the Settings App -> Accessibility -> Voice Control and flipping the toggle switch:

Turning on Voice Control in iPhone settings
Turning on Voice Control in iPhone settings
Turning on Voice Control in iPhone settings

Fortunately, Siri can also be called upon to enable Voice Control, making it possible for the whole Youtube ad-skipping process to be truely hands-free. 

Therefore, to successfully skip Youtube Ads on an Apple mobile device using your voice alone, do the following:

  1. 1
    To start, enable Voice Control on you Apple mobile device by saying something like 'Hey Siri, Voice Control on'
  2. 2
    Then, when the Skip Ads button appears on a Youtube video ad, say ’Show Numbers’ - this will make your device label every clickable link on screen including the Skip Ads button
  3. 3
    Finally, say the number that corresponds to the Skip Ads button and your device should skip the ads and return you to watching your video

Skipping Youtube Ads on your Mac

As on iPhones and iPads, Apple’s personal assistant, Siri, which is also available on macOS, can also be called upon to activate Voice Control on a Apple Mac as well. Unfortunately, however, unlike a mobile device, Siri on a Mac cannot be activated through voice alone. Instead, you have to physically interact with your Mac to get Siri to listen to you in the first place (assuming Siri is enabled in System Preferences), which partially defeats the objective of skipping video ads without using your hands. Once Siri is active however, it can activate Voice Control, as on a mobile device, by you saying something like 'Hey Siri, turn on Voice Control'.

Voice Control can also be turned on physically on a Mac by going to System Preferences and clicking on the Accessibility page:

System Preferences panel in macOS with the Accessibility icon highlighted

Once inside the Accessibility interface, scroll down and choose Voice Control. Here, you can turn Voice Control on when it is needed by clicking on the ‘Enable VoIce Control’ checkbox:

The Accessibility Preferences Panel in macOS
The Voice Control activity indicator

Enabling Voice Control will bring up a small window with a microphone icon inside it to indicate that your Mac is listening out for commands from you.

Now when you are watching a Youtube video with Voice Control on and a skippable video ad appears, do the following to skip the ad with your voice.

  1. 1
    Wait for the Skip Ads button to appear on the Youtube video ad
  2. 2
    Say the command ’Show Numbers’ - this will make your Mac label every clickable link on screen including the Skip Ads button on the video
  3. 3
    Then just say the number that corresponds to the Skip Ads button and your computer will skip the ad

This is demonstrated in the video below:

The Caveats of skipping Youtube Ads with Voice Control

Of course, Voice Control was not specifically designed for skipping Youtube ads. As a result, one runs into some inefficiencies that make the experience less than perfect (but still useful!).

The first is that one has to make the initial effort to turn Voice Control on. In the case of a Mac, this is even more problematic as you have to physically interact with your computer either to activate Siri or to turn Voice Control on yourself. This means that you have to foresee when you will not be able to interact with the trackpad or mouse while watching a Youtube video and enable Voice Control in anticipation of any skippable video ads showing.

The second issue is that if Voice Control is on during the playing of a Youtube video, your mobile device or Mac has a harder time hearing your commands over the Youtube audio. There is also a chance that your iPad, iPhone or Mac will respond to what is being said in the video you are watching if it misinterprets any of its dialogue as a voice command.

To help overcome this, you have two options: First, you could separate the audio output (Youtube audio) from the audio input (your commands) by running the Youtube audio through headphones rather than through loudspeakers. This will prevent the microphones on the Apple device from being hindered by or picking up extraneous voice commands from the Youtube video itself.

Alternatively, Voice Control can be put to sleep by issuing the command “Go to sleep” to temporarily disable it. However, this means that when it comes time to skip a video ad, you will have to wake Voice Control up first by issuing the extra command: “Wake up” before going through the ad-skipping process previously described.

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