YouTube, at one time, supported RSS feeds. Anyone could subscribe to channel feeds to receive updates in any RSS reader.
Google has made it harder to subscribe to channels over the years, likely to push YouTube’s own subscription feature. Unlike feeds, subscriptions require users to be logged into an account to receive updates.
Third-party apps such as NewPipe for Android or the Vivaldi web browser support out-of-the-box subscriptions. Even Microsoft is experimenting with a “follow the creator” feature in its Edge browser.
While these options are great, some users prefer to use a dedicated feed reader instead. Ideally, they would subscribe to all their favorite channels to receive notifications whenever new videos are posted. An added benefit of this is that there is no artificial limit in place.
How to Manually Subscribe to YouTube Creator RSS Feeds
It takes a bit of code research to reveal the RSS feed of a channel or playlist without third-party tools.
The main URL you need is https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=CHANNELID.
You need to replace CHANNELID with the channel ID, and this is where it can get tricky for some.
Most YouTube channels use custom names in the URL and not the channel ID. Although you can access a YouTube channel using the custom name and channel ID, you cannot access the RSS feed using the custom name.
- Mr. Beast Channel ID URL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX6OQ3DkcsbYNE6H8uQQuVA
- Mr. Beast Custom URL: https://www.youtube.com/user/MrBeast6000
Reveal YouTube Channel ID
You need to view the channel’s source code on YouTube to reveal the ID. Here’s how it’s done:
- Open the creator channel on YouTube, for example, https://www.youtube.com/user/PewDiePie
- Right-click on a blank part of the page and select “View Page Source”. Depending on the browser you are using, it may have a slightly different name. You can also add view-source: before the URL and hit the Enter key.
- Find the browsing ID. You can open the search option with Ctrl-F, or from the main browser menu.
- The browser jumps to the first instance of seek_id in the source code. Copy the string from the value field next to it; this is the channel id.
Create YouTube Channel RSS Feed URL
Now that you have the channel ID and the default stream address, you can combine the two to create a working stream address:
- Default URL: https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=CHANNELID
- Channel ID: UCX6OQ3DkcsbYNE6H8uQQuVA
- Workflow URL: https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UCX6OQ3DkcsbYNE6H8uQQuVA
The easiest way to test the feed URL is to load it in the browser. The browser should display the contents of the XML file. You can subscribe to the channel using this URL in any feed reader that supports it.
Create YouTube Playlist RSS Feed URL
You can also create YouTube playlist RSS feed URLs. Luckily, this is easier because the playlist IDs are already visible in the playlist URLs.
The default feed address for playlists: https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?playlist_id=PLAYLISTID
Here’s how it’s done:
- Open the playlist on YouTube, for example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktxBUqy6PT4&list=PLYH8WvNV1YEnOwmzyWz4vR0HsX1Qn0PoU
- The ID starts after list=; in the above case it is PLYH8WvNV1YEnOwmzyWz4vR0HsX1Qn0PoU
- Replace PLAYLISTID from the default feed address with the actual ID to create the playlist RSS feed. In the example above you get https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?playlist_id=PLYH8WvNV1YEnOwmzyWz4vR0HsX1Qn0PoU
Now you: do you subscribe to YouTube channels?