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YouTube is a favourite past-time for many of us; the chance to lead your own TV station. From you, for you. And yet, for all the time we spend on this web site, we know very little about it. It’s not surprising, seeing the size of this site, that there are a lot of back doors. A lot of ways to do things you wouldn’t expect.

If you like YouTube, as many of us do, it’ll pay off to look into these secrets. With this knowledge, it’s easier to get what you want, when you want it; to enjoy YouTube in its full glory.

Generate Playlists Based On Artists

The entertainment value of cat-studded videos is not in question. Especially if that cat is dressed in a shark costume and cruises the kitchen on a Roomba. Between two cat videos, people instead resort to music to keep themselves entertained.

Playing music on YouTube is nothing new, you’re right. But the practicality (read: laziness) inherent in dedicated music services like Spotify or Rdio Spotify vs. Rdio: A Complete Comparison Spotify vs. Rdio: A Complete Comparison I recently cancelled my Spotify Premium membership after a year of uninterrupted monthly payments to the company. This decision came about when I accidentally signed up for 14-days of free Rdio Unlimited. Quite frankly, I... Read More  rendered YouTube a poor second choice. After all, you can’t very well sit back and relax if you have to change the channel every three minutes. YouTube’s Disco feature takes care of that.

youtube-disco

YouTube Disco has been around for years, first appearing in YouTube’s TestTube. Very few people know about it, which is strange, because it’s nothing short of awesome. Enter the name of the artist you’d like to listen to, select one of the more popular choices below, or choose to play the top 100 and press the overly enthusiastic Disco! button to generate a playlist.

youtube-playlist

YouTube searches for music by the artist you entered and gathers the results in a big playlist. Big, as in 100 videos, so you won’t run out of music soon. Disco works like a charm with popular artists, but it won’t function if you’re looking for obscure or little-known artists. It’s a great way to enjoy music on YouTube if you hate having to interfere every few minutes; an easy way to throw some music on, sit back and relax.

Watch Live Shows

More and more, YouTube is taking on live video YouTube Opens Up Live Broadcasts For Anyone With 100 Subscribers Or More [Updates] YouTube Opens Up Live Broadcasts For Anyone With 100 Subscribers Or More [Updates] Smaller content creators now can rejoice as YouTube opens up its live streaming service to anyone who has a minimum of 100 subscribers. YouTube shared this welcome update on its Creators blog, and said any... Read More . If you’re hosting a Google Hangout Tips On Planning & Holding Effective Meetings With Google Hangouts Tips On Planning & Holding Effective Meetings With Google Hangouts With today's Internet technology, holding online meetings can be both efficient and cost-effective especially if you pre-plan them and make use of time-saving tools. For the last couple of months I've participated in online meetings... Read More , you can make it public and people can spectate on YouTube without having to enter the room. But even fairly big events are taking to YouTube to broadcast their content live. The White House likes to broadcast Q&A’s using YouTube, or you can spectate the League of Legends Championship series.

youtube-live

There’s an easy way to find out what’s being broadcast at any given moment. Either subscribe to a popular broadcasting account, like those mentioned above, or check the overview on YouTube Live. This page, auto-generated by YouTube, gathers all videos currently broadcasted in one place.

At the top of the page, you’ll find personal recommendations (which never really work for me, but your mileage may vary). Scrolling down, you’ll find an overview of live streams per category, like sports, gaming, Google+ Hangouts, and politics. Whatever your fancy, there’s bound to be something interesting here.

Go Creative with YouTube’s Video Editor

Most people aren’t just throwing videos online, they’re creating content. And while some videos are marvellous the moment they’re shot, a lot of videos can be made better with a little editing. A little touching up, a slick effect between scenes and a little background music can make all the difference between a flick and a movie.

youtube-editor

It’s simple to piece different videos together. Just drag them from your uploads to the YouTube Video Editor timeline, with or without a transition effect. Either use the sound of the video, or drag another file to the audio timeline.

But even a single video file can be made better by applying some simple filters. I’m not telling you to attack your video like an Instagram warrior, but a little contrast and brightness adjustments can make a big difference in how good your video looks on the screen. Press the little magic wand icon next to one of your videos. Play around with the settings. You’d be surprised how much a simple filter can do.

YouTube Video Speed History

There’s nothing more annoying than a video that won’t buffer. Luckily, YouTube has a very decent track record in this regard. Some other sites are hit and miss, but YouTube generally has a great level of service. If, for some reason or another, videos don’t play well, or don’t do so consistently, YouTube can help you investigate.

youtube-myspeed

Head to YouTube’s My Speed page to get information regarding your video streaming speed, and that of those around you. In a few graphs, you’ll be able to compare the average speed of your internet connection (on YouTube) with the other Internet Service Providers in your neighbourhood. The information goes back an entire month, so you can see if the bad day you were having was just a fluke, or to be expected.

youtube-stats-for-nerds

At the bottom of the page is a test video, which you can use to determine your current streaming speed. Although the video doesn’t work as it did a year ago, the same information is just an additional mouse-click away. Press Show Test Video and right-click on the video. Select Stats for nerds to get an overlay with all kinds of extra data. You can see your current streaming speed (in kilobit per second) behind the HTTP keyword. Do note that there’s a possibility YouTube might not have the video playback information for your specific location. Also, here are some tips to cure YouTube buffering problems Tired Of Buffering? 3 Ways To Speed Up YouTube Tired Of Buffering? 3 Ways To Speed Up YouTube Read More .

These are just four “YouTube secrets” I managed to uncover. Do you know any special ways to access, or use YouTube? Share you tips or tricks with us in the comments section below the article!

  1. Kara
    October 21, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Something cool I learned thanks to Jan F. here on Makeuseof... to link to a specific part in a long video, just type the description and then the time in mm:ss format to have the time hyperlink to that specific part in the video, that way you don't have to have a long URL in the description that opens a new browser each time it's clicked. It was almost too easy and I'm a little embarrassed that I missed it.

  2. MusicTester
    September 27, 2013 at 3:33 am

    I perfer last Fm ,
    Pandora, Vimeo, but this is neat! thanks!

  3. nora
    September 18, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    I have not been able to find the disco feature. I sm sure. I have icon blindness
    Thank

  4. Siegfried
    September 14, 2013 at 7:13 am

    With Youtube Disco I finally found a way to generate all country specific error messages on youtube in one rush.! lol ;) not a single vid works! Thanks IP location!

  5. Stephanie S
    September 11, 2013 at 6:11 am

    You know what? You never cease to amaze me with all your tips. Keep up the great work.

    • Simon S
      September 16, 2013 at 6:38 pm

      Glad to help!

  6. Tomaschurizoe
    September 10, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    In safari > preferences >extensions… you can [enable] your extensions which are sorta like plug-ins and get
    "clea.nr videos 5.0" (by A Cleaner Internet)
    This extension takes away all the adds around the video and the suggested videos off your screen so all you see is the main video. I love it b/c you can toggle it on/off from the youtube page your at! You can also darken the area around the video if you like. Great for darker videos.

  7. Neville Scollop
    September 10, 2013 at 5:26 am

    It's pass-time, not past-time.

  8. diego
    September 9, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    YouTube has been around for a while but I recently realized how great it is. With the ability to search and play music it is becoming my favorite search engine.

  9. Patty B
    September 9, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Can't seem to find a way to Save a Playlist made from YouTube Disco. Is this possible?

    • Simon S
      September 16, 2013 at 6:38 pm

      As far as I know, YouTube removed the option to 'copy' other people's playlists. You'll have to bookmark the playlist URL instead.

  10. David Coffin
    September 9, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Here's a question I was hoping your article might address: When you get to the end of a video and the screen fills with a grid of other videos you might like, what's the best thing to do when you really want to see several of these? There seems to be no way to get back to the exact (no doubt random) selection offered if you click on any one of them... Thanks!

    • down to earth
      September 10, 2013 at 1:56 am

      You can right click on the video(s) you want to watch and select 'Watch video in new window'. This will open that video in a new tab so that you still have your list.

    • David Coffin
      September 10, 2013 at 3:15 am

      Thanks! I'd just thought of doing that myself; funny how posting a question seems often to force the answer into awareness:)

    • Jillbillster
      September 10, 2013 at 5:59 am

      Open the video you want to see in a new tab close it when your done then do the next video. Or if you have an account when you hover over the thumbnail there's a + icon to add it to your watchlist.

  11. Dave
    September 7, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Love the Disco! feature EXCEPT the freaking commercials on a lot of videos -- to 'skip' them you have to stop what you're doing and go to the video and click 'skip ad'. Anyway thanks for this excellent article.

    • Santa's Little Helper
      September 15, 2013 at 5:50 am

      Hi Dave! There's this Google Chrome Ad Block for Youtube you can try!

  12. John
    September 6, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    I love google+ and find it better than anything else but this youtube thing is getting out of hand and google needs to stop being so idiotic.

  13. Snickers
    September 6, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Here's a YouTube secret. Google is forcing all YouTube users to create multiple Google Plus profiles to use basic features we could have without Google Plus, like sharing private YouTube videos to friends. This is confusing everyone, having three to four different profiles. Also, continuous nag screens to use your real name. When people unlink their Google+, it deletes their whole YouTube account, resulting in losing their whole YouTube account. Google is destroying YouTube. Google Plus will never be a thing. STOP tricking people into using it.

  14. likefunbutnot
    September 6, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    I can't believe the sheer number of people who aren't aware of even more basic Youtube features like Favorites and Subscriptions, or even that their Google sign-in enables Youtube features in the first place.

    Youtube is greatly enriched for both users and content producers provide useful comments and subscribe to channels, but I suspect that only a vanishing minority of the user base does so.

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