If your YouTube sessions have been limited to casually surfing featured and related videos; then you have yet to experience the best that Google’s video sharing service has to offer.
You can learn how to get more relevant search results, so you only get the videos you really want to see. You can create playlists of your favorite music videos, or download them to your tablet, smartphone, or any and all of your mobile devices for offline viewing.
But before we start hacking our YouTube experience, we might need to pause for a moment and think about online safety. YouTube can be a great resource, but also a parent’s nightmare. Even kid-friendly material can be ruined if jerks are dropping F-bombs and propagating hate speech in the comments section.
That’s why it’s not a bad idea to set up some kind of family-protection add-on or software. Comment Snob is one of our favorites, and it works in more places than just YouTube. It automatically hides objectionable comments, and even has parameters for filtering out shoddy spelling and grammar.
Using Google Search operators on YouTube to get more relevant videos
Most of us probably search by simply typing in what we’re searching for in plain English. While Google does a fairly decent job of turning our search parameters into results; they might be cluttered with irrelevant videos.
For example, simply typing in “Video Accelerator” will bring you every video that includes the words “video” and “accelerator,” not just Speedbit popular product. Putting quotation marks around your searches can help, as YouTube will only return results that have the words “Video Accelerator” occurring side-by-side.
To focus your searches even further, you can use the INTITLE: prefix to limit your searches to titles only; for example, the phrase INTITLE: “Video Accelerator.” Now you’re almost guaranteed to return only videos of the game show.
Adding time-sensitive words like “today” and “this week” to your searches will give you more recently posted videos. Also, adding “3D” or “HD” to the end of your search queries will return videos in 3D and HD, respectively.
Customize your music experience on YouTube
Google loves to make little improvements to its most popular services and not tell anyone. As a self-proclaimed music addict, among my favorites are the new customizable playlists.
Rather than simply adding videos to favorites; in the same “Add to” menu, you can make a new playlist. You can play jams from your playlists on “autoplay,” and skip backwards and forwards, making YouTube feel like Winamp or a portable media player.
If that’s too much trouble, there’s also the Pandora-like YouTube Disco. You simply type in an artist and/or song, and YouTube plays that plus similar vids. It’s like Pandora, but with unlimited skips, the ability to replay songs, and official music videos.
However, be prepared for the YouTube twist; try searching for David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and you’re likely to run into some clever and trippy fan-made videos and covers.
Download videos to watch on-the-go
4G is wonderful, but it has its dead spots. Wi-Fi isn’t quite everywhere yet. Or maybe your device is just really bad at streaming. Whatever the case, you might find it useful to download YouTube videos to watch later, even when you’re offline.
There are several tools available for this, but SPEEDbit Youtube Video Downloader is our current favorite (wink, wink). Simply download and convert Youtube videos with just one click (as suggested by the product name, SPEEDbit Video Downloader and Converter). You can then convert the video to a variety of formats and watch the videos anytime and anywhere.
Watch videos later, and pick up from where you left off
YouTube now offers a “watch later” feature; you may have noticed this as a clock-shaped icon that appears when you hover over video preview images on YouTube. This lets you earmark videos you don’t have the time to watch at the moment.
But what if you get interrupted during a long, full-length movie? Pause for Later is a browser add-on that bookmarks your place in videos when you leave the page or close the browser window. The next time you watch the video, you can pick right back up from where you left off.