I would like to find an application external to the internet browser that would play only youtube sound.

Preferably a very light one, CLI or GUI.


There is youtube-dl that lets you download youtube videos from the cli. There is also a new(ish) tool called mps-youtube, that I haven't personally used, but looks like it does exactly what you want.


Give it a try and let us know if it works

MPS is available in Ubuntu repos.

Launch the MPS console with


To search youtube in mps console:


After searching a term, and then selecting a number, the stream will play sound; there are play/pause, seek, volume options:

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To see options:

mpsyt h

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More detailed options:

mpsyt help search

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mpsyt help download

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After searching and then selecting the number of the stream with a command that would show download options:

d <number>

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Playlists can also be searched in the PLS console with

pls <search_term>

or even simpler

  • I knew about mps and that gave me the idea to ask a question to find if there are others. if you don't mind I'll edit your answer on MPS to add more info because I've just used it and it's great – user32012 Sep 15 '15 at 11:44
  • Sure, please do so. As someone else has mentioned, there is also vlc, and I believe mplayer with some tricks can also be used. – Sharninder Sep 15 '15 at 11:49
  • 2
    vlc and other external players with an option for 'no video' are interesting too. But I think MPS is no 1 for now, being so specialized in what the question asks. – user32012 Sep 15 '15 at 12:12
  • I thought mpsyt would be sweet, but it seems there's some bugs to fix when it comes to its handling of things that run over 30mins, like symphonies or mixes. Cuts out partway through. Maybe something that could be mitigated through downloading the file and then listening to it through the interface it provides – Dmitri DB Oct 9 '16 at 21:40

VLC can do that.

  • Use cvlc to turn off the GUI
  • Reject the video to just play the audio using --vout none or --no-video


cvlc --vout none <URL>
cvlc --no-video <URL>
  • 2
    That can be used in Firefox with Openwith addon: add usr/bin/cvlc, edit argument to cvlc --vout none or cvlc --no-video, and edit name to something like 'VLC Audio'. Then, in the Firefox, right click on a youtube link, 'Open with': VLC Audio. To shut down pkill vlc. -- But even so the interaction with the playing track is very limited and the results are not as good as with the more specialized MPS. – user32012 Sep 15 '15 at 12:34
  • for mplayer, it would be mplayer -novideo – user32012 Sep 15 '15 at 13:05

You can do this with yturl, for example, using mpv or mplayer:

mpv --no-video "$(yturl <url>)"
mplayer -novideo "$(yturl <url>)"

Disclaimer: I am the author of yturl.

  • Would it be better then mpv --no-video <url>? I tested the latter and it starts after a minute or more – user32012 Sep 15 '15 at 13:28
  • @cipricus "Better" is subjective. I don't know why it would take a minute or more, but if it's network related, you can try using a lower bitrate, for example using mpv --no-video "$(yturl -q low <url>)". – Chris Down Sep 15 '15 at 13:30

In order to select only the audio stream and send it to a player (video players like SMPlayer, VLC, mpv, mplayer, Dragon Player, Totem, but also audio players like Audacious):

  • SMTube

It is able search, list and play Youtube videos, and is meant to work with SMPlayer, but can be used separately. It has a setting to add/use different players and also an option to select only audio.

Go to settings

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Then select and/or add players to be used, and edit their setting to play also audio (for video players) or only audio, for audio players like Audacious.

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They can then be found when right-clicking a title and selecting 'Open audio'.

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Can be found as deb and other formats here. It supports more than Youtube (Baidu, Video etc) and has a setting to play only audio:

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It can create and save playlists.

  • With the Flashgot addon in Firefox by adding the external player as Flashgot "downloader" (like here) and then, after starting the youtube video in Firefox, using Flashgot to play only the audio stream by going to 'Available formats/DASH (separate audio and video tracks)' and selecting the specific audio track.


It will start after a few seconds, some players after more than others. The fastest seems to be SMPlayer.

To use the 'no-video' arguments with the Firefox addons, the way to do it is like so for Flashgot:

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and like so for OpenWith:

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More on playing embedded videos in external players, in this superuser question.

Also, an idea is that using certain internet browsers (Seamonkey, Epiphany etc - but not Firefox and Chrome), an Youtube title could be dragged and dropped onto mpv or a mpv fron-tend to play Youtube videos.

For the present purpose those players should be started with a 'no video' argument.


(more here) can be adjusted to play only sound.

For *ubuntu:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install youtube-viewer

In spite of what is said at the link above, it works fine with mplayer.

Just like MPS from the other answer, it is meant to search, play and download youtube streams, only that by default it will play the video and not just the audio stream. It can use mplayer as external player.

The command for mplayer without video is

mplayer -novideo

To start Youtube Viewer with this option:

youtube-viewer --video-player=mplayer -novideo

That can be added in a .desktop file with the lines:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Youtube Audio-only
Exec=bash -c 'youtube-viewer --video-player=mplayer -novideo'

When started, just type the search and then the number of the track to play.

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Closing the terminal will close the play.

(d <number> will download that video, by default as webm. And, of course, Youtube-Viewer is meant for seeing the youtube video too. For that, just use youtube-viewer --video-player=mplayer or youtube-viewer --video-player=mpv.)


You can simply pipe the output of youtube-dl with your preferred format into ffplay.


youtube-dl -f 251 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdRJMuOFO88 -o - | ffplay -nodisp -autoexit -i -

to list available formats use:

youtube-dl -F https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdRJMuOFO88

Headset app lets you play only the audio from YouTube. It has built in search functionality where you can search directly into YouTube. It also provides you an option to play songs from particular subreddit. But it opens a small window, which plays the lowest possible quality of video from YouTube.

The application is opensource and available as a .deb file for Ubuntu and also for other platforms like Windows and Mac OS.

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  • As mentioned, this is not "audio only", as it keeps a small video window. But that separate window can be minimized, while the main window only shows an image. The memory use is low, even if it starts 4-5 different processes. – user32012 Jul 18 '17 at 13:55

Try Olivia - Elegant music player for LINUX

Nightly Build on any snapd enabled Linux Distribution can be installed using:

Get it from the Snap Store

Arch Linux (AUR):


  • Allows search music online
  • Allows organize music
  • Allows download song while streaming
  • Allows search youtube and add result to library
  • Plays audio only of youtube streams (saves data bandwidth)
  • Support themes , Dynamic theme based on album art
  • Search suggestions
  • Player mini mode included , minimal player widget with always on capability and allows set transparency.
  • Internet radio, allows play more than 25k online radio stations, list them sort them according to language and country
  • Top music chart, allows list top 100 songs country wise
  • Audio Equalizers and powerful audio filters
  • More features like cloud synchronisation of music using an online account coming soon

ScreenShots: Olivia Youtube plugin for Olivia on the play Olivia Playing Internet radio Album view Olivia


You can check out my GitHub repository.

I wrote this script for listening to music on youtube but can be used to listen any audio.


For streaming YouTube audio from the command-line, without messing with API keys, you can also create .m3u playlists for playing video in MPV, etc.

AUR Package: https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/yt-bin


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