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12 things you didn’t know you could do on YouTube

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Most of us have been using YouTube for years, so you probably don’t think much about all of its different settings. But the Google-owned video platform has added so many features and tools in recent years that you’re probably missing some of its most useful features, both on the website and in apps.

From hidden gestures you may not have come across before, to ways to set sensible limits on how much time you spend descending rabbit holes, these 12 handy tricks and tweaks will help you get the most out of YouTube.

Check the transcripts

An automatically generated transcript. (Screenshot: YouTube)

YouTube is rolling out a smart automatic captioning treatment on most (but not all) uploaded videos, and you can find them on the web by clicking the three dots under a clip, then Open transcript. As far as we can tell, the transcript is very accurate and comes with timestamps for easy navigation.

There are several reasons why you might want to view a video transcript: for example, you can use it to find a particular point in a video without having to scroll through the timeline. Transcription can also be useful when you can’t listen to a clip’s audio, though it’s probably easier to turn on a video’s subtitles instead.

Loop videos

You can make videos repeat indefinitely.  (Screenshot: YouTube) You can make videos repeat indefinitely. (Screenshot: YouTube)

You can loop YouTube videos, but the feature is not so easy to find. On the web, right click on the video itself to find the Buckle option; on mobile, tap a video clip on its individual listing page, then tap the three dots (top right) and video loop. The loop option has also started appearing on YouTube PS5 and Nvidia Shield apps.

Keep watching on all devices

Easily switch from mobile to desktop.  (Screenshot: YouTube) Easily switch from mobile to desktop. (Screenshot: YouTube)

YouTube syncs your viewing across multiple devices as long as you’re signed in, but if you start watching something on Android or iOS and then switch to the website, you should notice a small mini-player appear in the corner of the screen. ‘screen. . This will display the video you were watching on your phone, so you can pick up where you left off.

Navigate with gestures

You can browse the videos with one click.  (Screenshot: YouTube) You can browse the videos with one click. (Screenshot: YouTube)

There are a few simple gestures that aren’t immediately obvious but can really help you navigate YouTube videos on a smartphone or tablet. Tap and hold the video while it plays, and you can then – with your finger still pressed on the screen – swipe left or right on the clip to quickly skim through the video timeline.

The second gesture requires two fingers: tap with two fingers on the left side or the right side of the video during playback, and the clip will jump forward or backward by 10 seconds. If there are chapters embedded in the video, the same gesture will skip forward or backward through the chapters instead, making navigation much easier.

View your stats

You might be surprised at the amount of videos you watch on YouTube.  (Screenshot: YouTube) You might be surprised at the amount of videos you watch on YouTube. (Screenshot: YouTube)

You may not have realized it, but YouTube knows how much time you spend watching videos on your devices. From Homepage in the mobile app, tap your avatar (top right) then select Time watched. Here you’ll see how much time you’ve spent watching YouTube in the last seven days, on any device

Limit your time on YouTube

YouTube can remind you when you've watched too long.  (Screenshot: YouTube) YouTube can remind you when you’ve watched too long. (Screenshot: YouTube)

If you think you need to spend less time on YouTube, there are tools that will help you. On the Home tab, tap your profile picture in the top-right corner, then choose Time watched and scroll down the page. You can have YouTube remind you to take a break once in a while, send you a notification at a designated bedtime, and turn autoplay on or off.

See stats for nerds

There are more stats available, if you want them.  (Screenshot: YouTube) There are more stats available, if you want them. (Screenshot: YouTube)

If you’re really into video encoding and streaming, then YouTube can give you a lot more technical information about clips when you watch them in mobile apps. Tap your profile picture in the Home tab (top right), then choose Settings and General and turn it on Enable statistics for nerds (Android) or Statistics for nerd (iOS) toggle switch.

To see said stats for nerds, tap on a video, tap the three dots in the corner, then choose Statistics for nerd to display the overlay while the clip below it plays. The information displayed on screen in real time includes the resolution of the clip, the audio and video codecs used, and the amount of bandwidth you are using while streaming it.

Switch to incognito mode

YouTube's mobile apps include an incognito mode.  (Screenshot: YouTube) YouTube’s mobile apps include an incognito mode. (Screenshot: YouTube)

Maybe you want to let the kids watch videos, or you need to research something you don’t want to cloud your recommendations? For these and other reasons, YouTube on mobile has an incognito mode that you can activate by tapping on your profile photo (top right) on the main page Homepage the screen, then choosing Enable Private Browsing.

Incognito mode works exactly as expected. Your viewing history will not be stored and the videos you watch will not interfere with your recommendations. Tap the Private Browsing button (top right) to turn it off again. There is no similar option on the web interface, but you can just use an incognito mode browser window for the same job.

Discover what’s new for you

YouTube has even more new content to see.  (Screenshot: YouTube) YouTube has even more new content to see. (Screenshot: YouTube)

YouTube is always looking for ways to recommend even more things for you to watch, and it recently added a “new for you” selection. You can find it by scrolling through the little pill-shaped filter links at the top of the main homepage on web and mobile. youtube says it’s about “new creators and new videos” that don’t match your recommendations.

Share a specific part of a video

Send someone directly to a specific part of a clip.  (Screenshot: YouTube) Send someone directly to a specific part of a clip. (Screenshot: YouTube)

There may be times when you don’t want to share an entire video, but rather a specific segment of it. To do this, you need to add a timestamp at the end of the original URL: if you click To share under a video on the web interface, you will see a start to where you can enter the time you want to access whenever someone clicks on the link.

Download videos

You can choose the clip quality each time you upload a video, if needed.  (Screenshot: YouTube) You can choose the clip quality each time you upload a video, if needed. (Screenshot: YouTube)

There is a built-in tool to download videos from YouTube, but only if you are a paid premium member. the To download The button appears below videos when you’re viewing them, and you can find the same option if you click or tap the three dots next to a clip. From the main navigation bar, select Downloads (internet) or Library (mobile) to find your recorded videos.

On the mobile downloads page, you’ll see recommended downloads (videos that YouTube thinks you might want to save for offline viewing) by default. You can also set the default quality for downloaded videos via Backgrounds and Downloads from the Settings page on mobile, and via Downloads from the Settings page on the web.

Show listen controls

The simplified listening controls interface.  (Screenshot: YouTube) The simplified listening controls interface. (Screenshot: YouTube)

An added feature for the YouTube Premium crowd: you can now bring up a dedicated listening controls panel while watching videos on mobile, giving you easy access to buttons to pause playback and skip forward or backward. To open the alternate interface, tap on a video, tap the three dots (top right), then choose Listen commands.