What is PeerTube anyway?
It’s a video platform for the Fediverse, kind of like YouTube but spread out on lots of servers that talk to each other instead of being on one site. Have a look at fedi.video ⧉ if you want to see an example server.
Also here’s the really cool bit: because PeerTube and Mastodon are both part of the Fediverse, you can follow PeerTube accounts from Mastodon. You can also watch, comment on and like PeerTube videos entirely within Mastodon, using your Mastodon account.
How do I watch PeerTube videos?
If you just want to browse and search for PeerTube videos and don’t want to follow or interact, then the easiest method is probably to watch them directly on a PeerTube server website. You don’t need to register, there are no ads, no cookies etc, you can just watch videos in peace without having to do anything else. For an easy way to get started exploring PeerTube, I run a site at fedi.video ⧉ which highlights interesting videos from across the whole PeerTube network.
Different servers will have different videos visible, depending on which other parts of PeerTube they federate with. If you can’t find the videos you want on the server you’re browsing, try using one of the discovery methods mentioned below.
How do I upload videos to PeerTube?
Please see the guide to publishing on PeerTube.
How do I follow PeerTube accounts from Mastodon?
There are many ways to follow PeerTube accounts, but the most popular by far is following them from Mastodon. This allows you to watch, follow and interact with PeerTube using your existing Mastodon account, and without leaving your Mastodon app or website. It’s so simple and seamless that many people who use it don’t even realise they are following PeerTube accounts!
To follow a PeerTube account on Mastodon:
- Find the PeerTube account’s fediverse address on its profile page
- Copy the account’s address and paste it into the search box in Mastodon, this will bring up the PeerTube account’s profile within Mastodon
- Go to the PeerTube profile
- Click Follow
…and that’s it! Videos from followed accounts will start appearing in your timeline. You can watch them within Mastodon by clicking the play button, or click on the link to watch the same video on its PeerTube server.
If you want to try this out, copy and paste the account address @email@example.com into the search box on Mastodon. This will bring up a PeerTube account which you can follow, and its videos will be visible on its profile page.
Can I comment and like PeerTube videos from Mastodon?
Yes! You can interact with PeerTube videos entirely within Mastodon.
If you are following a PeerTube account its videos will appear in your home timeline. The videos will look just like posts from Mastodon accounts, and you interact with them in exactly the same way. If you favourite a PeerTube video in Mastodon, it will appear as a thumbs up for that video in PeerTube. If you reply to a PeerTube video in Mastodon, it will appear as a comment below that video in PeerTube.
If you’re wondering how this is possible, it’s because PeerTube and Mastodon are both part of the Fediverse and use the same open technical standard (called ActivityPub) to communicate between servers. That means Mastodon servers can talk to PeerTube servers and vice versa.
How to discover PeerTube accounts to follow
There are lots of ways of discovering PeerTube accounts and videos:
- Visit the website fedi.video ⧉, which highlights nice videos from across PeerTube which you can browse or search. It does this using an allowlist system which screens out bad content before it can appear.
- Follow the account @FediVideo@social.growyourown.services ⧉ in Mastodon, it boosts interesting PeerTube videos every day. If you like a particular video and want to see more, click on the video’s profile link and click Follow. There is also a PeerTube playlist ⧉ you can watch which includes every video boosted by the account.
- Browse the PeerTube section on Fedi.Directory ⧉, and click on an account to find out more. If you like it, copy and paste the account’s address into the search box on Mastodon and click Follow.
- Some people on Mastodon may also mention their PeerTube account addressrs in their profiles. You can follow these addresses in Mastodon.
- There is an official PeerTube search engine called SepiaSearch ⧉, which aims to search as many PeerTube servers and videos as possible to give the largest number of relevant current results. However, the downside of this is it may also contain nasty content. (The admins of SepiaSearch screen out bad content when it is reported, but because it uses a blocklist system instead of allowlist, bad stuff may sneak through if no one reports it.)
Following PeerTube accounts from PeerTube
Of course, you can just follow PeerTube accounts from PeerTube itself!
Using a PeerTube account allows you to comment, like, follow etc but also allows some things not possible through Mastodon, such as being creating playlists, saving videos to watch later and various other options such as donating to the creator. Some video accounts also offer file downloads if you want to watch the videos offline. The experience of using a PeerTube account is very similar to YouTube.
You can get a PeerTube account on any PeerTube server that is open for signups, for example tilvids.com ⧉ is a good one. If the video you want to interact with isn’t visible on the server you signed up on, you can make it appear by copying and pasting the video’s link into the search box on your PeerTube server. The video will appear, and you’ll then be able to interact with it and follow its creator’s account.
Can I use PeerTube accounts through an app instead of the website?
Yes, the Fedilab app can be used for PeerTube accounts as well as Mastodon ones, and there’s also a free open source app called NewPipe ⧉ which is PeerTube-compatible too. The PeerTube part of Fedilab is separate from the Mastodon section, and has an interface dedicated to PeerTube.
Also, if you just want to subscribe and watch/listen, but don’t want to comment or like, you might want to try following PeerTube through your favourite podcast app.
A video starts playing but it’s really jerky. How do I fix this?
If you pause a video, this will give the video a chance to load up a bit more so that it doesn’t have to keep stopping. Unlike YouTube videos, PeerTube videos can load right to the end of the video if you pause it, and then you won’t get any jerkiness at all.
Also, some videos include a download link so you can watch it on your own device’s video player (this is optional though, it’s is up to the person who uploads the videos to decide if it will include a download link).
A video won’t load, or it says it’s not available. What do I do?
If a video says it cannot be accessed, try reloading the page and pressing play again.
The reason this happens is usually because the video is on a different server to the one you’re watching from, and occasionally the connection can get a bit flaky. Reloading the page usually fixes this problem.
If it still doesn’t load, it’s possible that the server actually hosting the video is down.
Following PeerTube channels and accounts on Podcast apps
If you just want to subscribe to a channel and don’t care about commenting or liking, you can follow any PeerTube channel or account through most podcast apps.
Following PeerTube accounts through RSS
If you’re a fan of using RSS news feeds, you can follow PeerTube accounts through RSS. To get an account’s RSS feed address, go to the account’s profile on PeerTube and click the options arrow next to the Subscribe button, one of the options wthatill be RSS.
As it’s RSS, interactions are impossible because RSS feeds are one directional.
Following PeerTube accounts from other Fediverse server types
There are also other Fediverse platforms which let you follow PeerTube accounts, such as Friendica. You can use exactly the same methods for following as detailed in the above section about Mastodon, it all works in the same way.
Why can’t I find what I want on PeerTube?
PeerTube is very new and most people publishing videos on it have only just got started. It has grown significantly since its early days, and hopefully the explosion of new users on Mastodon will make PeerTube grow even faster. If you want to see more content on PeerTube, it helps if you follow, comment and like the videos that are there already.
Another thing to bear in mind is that PeerTube is mainly built and run by volunteers. Each server has to cover its own operating costs, and the PeerTube platform’s software is developed by a non-profit organisation together with volunteer programmers. There are no VC investors or corporations funding PeerTube, the whole thing is a grassroots effort paid for by donations.
There’s a “friendly reminder” warning at the bottom of the page. What does it mean?
The warning is there for an abundance of transparency, rather than because of significant risk.
PeerTube reduces the stress on servers by sharing the bandwidth of people who are watching the same video at the same time. This allows small independent servers to exist more easily because it keeps costs down on popular videos.
In theory, because the bandwidth is being shared, someone watching the same video as you at exactly the same time as you might be able to see your IP address. However, this is not a built-in feature of PeerTube, it would require significant modifications by whoever did it, and all it would tell them is that someone with that IP address is watching that video. It wouldn’t by itself tell them who you are or any personal info.
Also, even seeing the IP address would be difficult for various technical reasons ⧉.
IP addresses are a short series of numbers that your internet provider assigns to your computer or phone whenever it connects to the internet. Everything on the internet has an IP address so that information can flow correctly from one place to another. IP addresses for ordinary internet users aren’t permanent, and may change every time you connect to the internet.
If you’re concerned about the risk of IP addresses being visible to others, bear in mind your IP address is already visible to any internet site you look at, or online app you interact with, because that’s how the internet knows where to send stuff. The only way to avoid IP addresses being exposed to others is to use a VPN ⧉.