Ratings of a YouTube video tell you if it’s popular; they don’t necessarily tell you if a video is going to be interesting. Interest is obviously subjective to your taste and the ratings serve only to show you the general opinion for each video. To see if it’s something that would interest you, you have to watch it yourself. If you aren’t up for wasting time like that, give Youtube™ Preview a try. It’s a Chrome extension that lets you preview frames of a video without having to play it. When you move your mouse over a video’s thumbnail, it expands slightly to reveal a compact media player. Frames from the video are then played, giving you a glimpse of what’s going on in a video. There is no audio support, but the frames should be sufficient to help you determine whether a video would interest you (and save you from being rickrolled). The extension can prove to be particularly useful for videos that have not yet been rated, or ones that have roughly the same upvotes and downvotes.
Once Youtube™ Preview is installed, you will have to reload YouTube. A small bar will appear above video thumbnails. This bar reflects the rating for a video. though it does not match the colors of YouTube’s default rating bar. Negative votes are show on the left in dark blue and positive votes are shown in grey on the right.
You will find the extension is very responsive to mouse movement, and you need only move it over the corner of a video to begin previewing frames from it. The video player itself only pops up if you rest your cursor on a video for a few seconds.
YouTube too shows frames when you move your mouse over the seeker bar, but you have to actually be playing the video. Youtube™ Preview allows you to get a sneak peak at a video before you open it.
There are no options for controlling the quality of the frames; it seems you can only view them in low resolution. It’s probably there to conserve bandwidth and ensure the loading of the frames doesn’t drag down your connection’s speed. Some users, however, might prefer viewing better quality frames, so it would be better if the extension offered said option. Youtube Preview is a bit too responsive at times, that is, it takes very little to trigger the video preview. There should definitely be an option to tweak its sensitivity.
All in all, a useful addition to the YouTube interface. If you often find it difficult to decide what video to watch, especially when you’ve been through all popular video suggestions, this extension should help you out.