7 Useful YouTube Tips & Tricks

Everyone uses YouTube, but not everyone takes advantage of the features available. Here are 7 tips and tricks to get the most out of your viewing experience.

  1. Blocking Ads
  2. Video Speed
  3. Show Transcript
  4. Pop-out Player
  5. Creating GIFs from Videos
  6. Sharing Videos with Timestamps
  7. Keyboard Shortcuts

1. Blocking Ads

Let’s start off with the most important thing: blocking ads – specifically the in-player ads that run before the video you’re trying to watch.

Apple/iOS Devices

For iOS users, AdBlock appears to be consistently the best app to achieve this. This app works for the entire OS, meaning that the ad-blocking features aren’t limited to browsers (like it is for Android).

Android Users

For Android users, a majority of the free ad-blocking apps work by limiting ads in certain browsers (ads themselves aren’t blocked on the YouTube app). That being said it does work, and is good if you’re trying to protect your privacy and not have your Google/YouTube account algorithm influenced (as much) by your browsing.

If you do want to go with this option, I’d suggest trying out Adblock or Brave. I tried out both of these today, and both are confirmed working. Other options include Vanced and NewPipe, but you’ll have to download the APKs off their websites and not the Play Store (at your own risk).

Using a VPN

Using a VPN service with ad-blocking features is one of the easiest ways to do this: as you’re using a VPN service already (hopefully paid), you don’t need to install additional apps. NordVPN offers ad-blocking features with their ‘Nord Cybersec’ technology, but it didn’t block YouTube ads for me (in the app or in browsers). It just doesn’t seem to block YouTube ads (judging by this 2018 reddit post).

Tried and True Method: Manual Skipping

Edit (5/11/21): This method no longer works

Now, for the method I’ve been using for a couple years now that doesn’t require any additional app installation. This works for both mobile and computer.

1. Once an ad appears in the app, look for the following icon:

In some cases an add cannot be skipped with this method – in this case I just mute it until it finishes.

2. This menu pops up at the bottom of the video. Select the middle option “Stop seeing this ad”.

3. Select Yes on the next pop-up:

4. At this point the ad has been skipped. A final pop-up will appear, which you can just select ‘Close’ (you don’t need to select why).

2. Video Speed

This feature is likely the most known on this list. It earns its spot as number two because I use it daily- I prefer to consume information in the most efficient way, and cutting viewing time in half serves that purpose.

That being said, it also tires more quickly as your brain is working twice as quickly to process the information. Personally I prefer to do this in 15-20 minute bursts, while copy pasting key ideas to further make notes from by using the function:

3. Show Transcript

While videos are more engaging than reading text on a screen, it can make it harder to research or take notes. Instead of being able to skim, search for keywords or refer to an index, videos force you to watch the entire thing through.

That is, until YouTube introduced the transcript function. With it you can not only skim but also freely copy, paste and search for key terms within it.

This is particularly helpful if you find a video you watched a while back and want to pinpoint a particular segment (particularly with longer videos like documentaries, video essays, convention keynotes or TED talks).

3. Pop-out Player

The the pop-out player is the multi-tasker’s best friend. It’s almost like ‘watching’ the tv while doing something else, except it’s on the same screen.

I find myself using it most when gaming. The pop-out can overlay on basically any application – you could be creating in Photoshop, coding or shopping. Using the pop-out player comes down to whether your current activity requires your undivided attention.

Navigating between videos is also less intuitive as to select the next video you’ll need to close the pop-up, choose the next video, and go into pop-up mode again. For this reason, I usually choose longer videos < 15-20 mins.

5. Creating GIFs from Videos

You might want to create a meme, save an animated infographic for reference, or your own custom GIF reaction. Animated GIFs are an effective way to communicate visually within chats in place of a video link.

It’s surprisingly simple: in the URL, simply add ‘gif’ in front of ‘youtube’.

You’ll then be taken to the gifs.com editor which has a sizeable number of features (border, captions, cropping, blur, hue and invert to name a few).

6. Sharing Videos with Timestamps

Maybe you need to share more than just a 5 second GIF of a video, and want a YouTube link to jump to a specific part of a video for sharing.

After clicking on the Share button under the video, check the box on the bottom left of the pop-up.

The time stamp can’t be entered manually though, so you’ll need to pause/skim to the video segment (which can be tricky on a phone sometimes).

7. YouTube Keyboard Shortcuts

Finally, we have the myriad of keyboard shortcuts at our disposal. Taken from the Google Help page is the following (exhaustive) table of shortcuts:

Keyboard shortcutFunction
SpacebarPlay/Pause when the seek bar is selected. Activate a button if a button has focus.
Play/Pause Media Key on keyboardsPlay / Pause.
kPause/Play in player.
mMute/unmute the video.
Stop Media Key on keyboardsStop.
Next Track Media Key on keyboardsMoves to the next track in a playlist.
Left/Right arrow on the seek barSeek backward/forward 5 seconds.
jSeek backward 10 seconds in player.
lSeek forward 10 seconds in player.
.While the video is paused, skip to the next frame.
,While the video is paused, go back to the previous frame.
>Speed up the video playback rate.
<Slow down the video playback rate.
Home/End on the seek barSeek to the beginning/last seconds of the video.
Up/Down arrow on the seek barIncrease/Decrease volume 5%.
Numbers 1 to 9 on the seek bar (not on the numeric pad)Seek to the 10% to 90% of the video.
Number 0 on the seek bar (not on the numeric pad)Seek to the beginning of the video.
/Go to search box.
fActivate full screen. If full screen mode is enabled, activate F again or press escape to exit full screen mode.
cActivate closed captions and subtitles if available. To hide captions and subtitles, activate C again.
Shift+NMove to the next video (If you’re using a playlist, will go to the next video of the playlist. If not using a playlist, it will move to the next YouTube suggested video).
Shift+PMove to the previous video. Note that this shortcut only works when you’re using a playlist.
iOpen the Miniplayer.

Published by Tech Neck Nick

I'm a cybersecurity major postgrad student from Sydney, Australia. Support my fight against Writer's Block.

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