If you spend a significant amount of time on YouTube, you’ll want to make the most of that time—whether it’s the choice of videos you get recommended or the quality of those videos when they start playing. There are actually lots of different ways you can tweak YouTube, both in the apps and on the web, to improve your viewing experience, and we’ve picked out some of our favorite tricks here.

Some of them you may never have been aware of, others you may have seen before but then forgotten, but taking a couple of minutes to get YouTube properly set up is well worth it—and then you can get on with the more important business of watching content.

1) Maximize video quality

By default, YouTube selects the resolution of the videos based on factors such as your internet speed and the size of the screen you’re using. On the web, you can change this setting for the rest of the current session: Click the small gear icon (lower right) as you hover over a video, then Quality, then choose the video quality you want to switch to.

On mobile devices, tap on a video as it plays, then the gear icon (Android) or three dots (iOS), then Quality. You can also set a global quality level on mobile to apply across all videos via Video quality preferences in Settings (tap the gear icon on the You tab on Android or your profile picture on the Home tab on iOS to find the main Settings link).

2) Put videos on a loop

There are certain videos you might want to put on a loop: Maybe not short viral clips, because that would most likely end up being very annoying, but perhaps chill-out mixes that you want to put on in the background while you work or lectures that you’re trying to absorb information from. It’s a feature that can come in handy for a number of reasons.

If you’re watching a video on the web, right-click on it, then choose Loop from the menu that comes up. If you’re watching on mobile, tap on the video, then the gear icon (Android) or the three dots (iOS), then Loop video. Bear in mind that the loop will continue until you turn it off—repeat the process for the web or mobile to go back to normal playback.

3) Improve your recommendations

The value of YouTube rises significantly if you’re getting good recommendations about what to view next—whether it’s music videos or sports highlights—and there are a couple of ways to improve the relevance of the recommendations you see. The first is to click or tap the thumbs up or thumbs down buttons to indicate whether you like or don’t like a video.

Secondly, you can edit your YouTube watch history via History in the left-hand pane on the web. From here, you can remove videos that don’t actually reflect what you want to be watching (hover over them and click the X) or pause your watch history to stop it from influencing your recommendations (if the kids are borrowing your account, for example).

4) Use keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts come in handy everywhere, from image editing programs to web browsers, and it’s no different with YouTube. If you know a few useful keyboard shortcuts, you can jump around in your videos and playlists without fumbling for the mouse or trackpad or finding a particular icon somewhere on the screen.

Shortcuts that you can try on Windows and macOS are Space (to pause and resume), J and L to jump backward or forwards 10 seconds, and M to mute or unmute a video. You can also use < and > to slow down or speed up the playback speed, F to go full screen, and the numbers 19 to jump straight to the 10-90 percent point in the video’s overall length.

5) Get extra features

A whole host of browser extensions out there add functions and features to YouTube. You can browse through them at your leisure, but we’ll mention a couple. Picture-in-Picture – Floating Video for Chrome, for instance, improves on the native pop-out mini player by letting you resize it and put it anywhere you like on the screen.

If you’re more of a Firefox type of person, then YouTube NonStop will take care of the message that pops up occasionally when you have non-stop playback enabled to ensure you’re still watching. If you’re sure you want your YouTube watching (and listening) to be uninterrupted, then this extension will take care of the job for you.


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