Friday, December 25, 2020

YouTube Music Playlist Shortcut

Google giveth and Google taketh away

Play Music, originally Google Music, was mature and pretty good. There was really no reason for Google to create YouTube Music and shut down Play Music, forcing a painful transition on users, other than its own organizational convenience (but I digress). 

Part of the pain for users is that (as of this writing at least) YouTube Music doesn't work as well as Play Music, particularly for those using it for cloud storage of uploaded music more than for paid streaming. One of the more annoying issues is that some (not all) video playlists get mixed in with audio playlists, making it harder to navigate audio playlists.

The YouTube Music app for Android, which suffers from annoying pauses even with strong mobile signal, makes things worse by having no way to create Home screen icons for specific playlists, either by widget or by shortcut. (The Play Music app had a widget for a specific playlist.) Fortunately, there is a way to work around this limitation, but it's not obvious. On Android:
  1. Install the Website Shortcut app.
  2. Open YouTube Music in Chrome browser (not the app), and navigate to a desired playlist.
  3. Scroll up to 3 dot overflow menu at right end of Chrome navigation bar to Share that page to Website Shortcut:
    1. Add the Playlist name in the Label field.
    2. Select a custom icon (e.g., artist photo) if desired (otherwise it will be the YouTube Music icon).
    3. Create Shortcut, and install the icon on a Home screen.
Now that Home screen icon can be used to launch the specific playlist (in the app if it's installed rather than in Chrome).
  • A good way to organize these playlist icons is to create a Playlist folder on the Home screen.
  • Another way is to add a Home screen just for music playlist icons.
  • This same technique works for artist, album, contributed playlist, search, anything that can be shared.
The reason for using Website Shortcut is that Add to home screen in Chrome just creates an icon that launches the app, not the desired playlist.

Enjoy!

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