How to Search YouTube Like a Pro Using Advanced Search Operators

Ben Stegner Updated 08-05-2020

Most of the time, searching YouTube is easy: you simply type in a term and relevant videos appear. But what happens if you need a better YouTube search?

Thankfully, YouTube offers advanced search options that help you drill down and find what you’re looking for. Let’s look at advanced search options on YouTube and how to master them.

Using YouTube’s Filter Options

Much of the time, you can use YouTube’s built-in filters to help narrow your search results.

To access them, first run a search on YouTube. Next, click the Filter button and you’ll see several filter options. You can choose just one of them or combine several for deeper searches.

Note that some combinations won’t work, however. For example, if you filter by upload date, you can’t also filter by channels.

YouTube Filters

Let’s quickly run through what these options offer.

Upload Date

This option makes it easy to find the latest content on YouTube. The date options are:

  • Last hour
  • Today
  • This week
  • This month
  • This year

If you’re looking for breaking news, content relevant to a recent software release, or other timely videos, these are a great help. Use them when the default results show outdated content.


YouTube Channel Search

Want to search YouTube for something other than videos? You can change your search to look for Channel, Playlist, Movie, or Show content instead.

If you weren’t aware, full-length movies and shows are available to purchase on YouTube, which is what the last two choices are for. Shows doesn’t show YouTube Originals, though you can use it to find children’s shows on YouTube The Best Kids Shows to Watch on YouTube YouTube is packed with content for kids, including official channels showing episodes of some of the best kids shows ever made. Read More .


Looking for a quick video, or a longform piece on content to enjoy over dinner? Use Short to find videos that are under four minutes. Long will filter to only show videos that are longer than 20 minutes.


YouTube 360 Video

This large section lets you filter by many different types of content on YouTube. There are too many to cover here, but some of the highlights include:

  • Live: See content that’s live on YouTube right now.
  • Subtitles/CC: Only show content that has subtitles. Great if you want to watch a video but can’t turn the audio up.
  • Creative Commons: Find content that’s licensed for reuse. See our guide to Creative Commons for an explanation.
  • 360 degrees: Filter by videos that let you click and drag to look all around. Try these with a VR headset, if you have one.

Sort By

YouTube View Count Search

By default, YouTube searches are sorted by Relevance, which means that YouTube tries to match your search intent. You can change this to Upload date, View count, or Rating if you’d prefer.

Most of these are self-explanatory. Upload date lets you find brand-new content, while View count makes it easy to find the most-viewed content on YouTube The 15 Most Viewed YouTube Videos Ever The most viewed YouTube video has over five billion views. Which of these most liked and watched YouTube videos have you seen? Read More . Rating, however, doesn’t seem helpful. In our testing, it doesn’t show the highest-rated videos first and instead displays a random mix of videos old and new.

Using Filters As Operators

If you don’t want to click on these filter options every time, YouTube offers a faster way to include them in your search. Simply include a comma after your search term and one of the above keywords to filter by it.

For instance, typing “iPhone, week, short, HD” (without the quotes) would show videos about the iPhone uploaded this week that are under four minutes and in HD. You can use just one or as many as you like, and they work in combination with the advanced search operators below.

Master YouTube’s Advanced Search Operators

If the above options don’t help you find what you’re looking for, you can use advanced search operators in the search field. These will sound familiar if you’ve used Google’s advanced operators The Best Google Search Cheat Sheet: Tips, Operators, and Commands to Know These special Google search tips, operators, and commands will help you narrow down your search results and always get the exact results you're looking for. Read More .

Search for Exact Matches

By default, YouTube will try to use all the words in your search phrase. Putting your search query in quotes instead will search for that exact string in both video titles and descriptions.

It’s useful for anything that requires precision, especially if your search term is ambiguous. Something like “2012 Honda Accord oil change” (in quotes) should filter out similar but unrelated results.

Force Specific Terms

YouTube Plus Operator

If you want to require one or more specific words to appear in your video search, you can use the plus operator.

For example, if you were looking for videos about NES version of Donkey Kong, you could enter “Donkey Kong +NES” (not including quotes) and all video results would include NES.

This is a handy way to combine terms for more specific searches, especially because YouTube can sometimes ignore a certain term in a long search query.

Exclude Terms From a Search

YouTube Minus Operator

The flipside of the above is the minus operator. This lets you remove certain terms from your search.

As an example, let’s say you wanted to watch clips of tennis from the Olympics, but didn’t want to include anything from the 2012 games in London. You could enter “Olympic tennis -London” to exclude anything that took place in London.

Search for Multiple Terms

If you want to find results that match at least one of several different terms, you can use the pipe operator. This returns results for the query on either side of the pipe.

For example, a search for “cats | dogs” would bring up videos containing either one or the other.

Search Video Titles Only

When you run a search, YouTube doesn’t just look at video titles. It also considers content in the video description, which can give you irrelevant results.

Using the intitle: operator, you can force YouTube to only search the titles of videos. Give it a try if the results don’t seem to make sense.

Add a Wildcard

Not sure what to search for? Let YouTube’s wildcard operator fill in for you. Adding an asterisk will fill in at least one word in its place.

It’s not useful in all situations, but it can help you find terms related to your search without much extra work. Try something like “best * of 2019” to discover something new.

Specify a Price Range

YouTube Price Search

Looking for product recommendations that fit into a certain budget? You can use two dots to specify a range of cost in video results.

For example, if you search for “build PC $200..$700” you’ll find guides on building your own PC with costs between those two values.

Search By Hashtag

Did you know that YouTube lets creators include hashtags on their videos? This can make it easier to find content grouped around a common theme.

To search by hashtag, simply enter one, like #ThrowbackThursday. Even if the video doesn’t have a hashtag in the title, YouTube will use ones from the video description. You’ll see a few of those hashtags above the video title once you click on it.

Find What You Need With YouTube Advanced Search

While YouTube doesn’t have a dedicated advanced search page, it’s still possible to perform custom YouTube searches with operators and filters. These should let you find whatever you’re looking for on YouTube.

If they weren’t enough for you, don’t forget that you can use the Google advanced operators mentioned above. Running a search on Google will help you find relevant content on YouTube.

For more, have a look at other online services that offer advanced search 10 Advanced Online Searches That Make the Web a Lot Easier Advanced search features in popular search engines help you focus your search. Dig into these 10 advanced search tools that accompany these popular web apps. Read More .

Related topics: Video Search, Web Search, YouTube.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Mike
    January 28, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    Quoting simply does not work. It does something different (not sure what) as these are the numbers of "results" from two different searches (I'm using square brackets to show what I entered in the box - they were not part of my search strings):

    [king king] = About 143,000,000 results
    ["king king"] = About 134,000 results

    You'd think from that that it had actually searched properly, but no - sorting by View Count brings the same old non-matching videos to the top of the list, basically it seems anything with "king" in the title. Looks like the same old arrogant, patronising, insulting assumption by Google that they actually know better than me what I want to find.


  2. eric
    January 13, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    we need category and topic searches.

  3. Tim
    May 29, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    The quotes and "+" operators don't work consistently. I was just searching and the search query in brackets [ epic war td arcade "chapter 4 " ] does return mostly results containing the string "chapter 1" or "chapter 2" but hardly any with "chapter 4". adding a "+" operator like [ epic war td arcade +"chapter 4 " ] doesn't seem to change anything. Doing things like [ foo +chapter +4 ] doesn't work either. What's up with that? Youtube is so terrible for searching.

    For example, it has no capability to distinguish bettween music set to still pictures from music live performance videos from music videos, which is not that hard, and something I wager many, many users would want. They have about the most advanced copyright detection I've ever seen so if they can do that this is a cakewalk. But they never, ever improve the product instead favoring implementing new (and buggy) features. Ugh. Rant over.

    • oct8
      January 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      the search querry that you're using seems to be wrong, the operators stop reading the moment you add a space, in example you can see where the error lies on what you posted:
      (i replaced the spaces with "_" to show you) in this case you're only forcing [+"chapter], if you want to force all "chapter 4", my best guess would be doing something like this:
      [ epic_war_td_arcade_+chapter_+4 ]
      [ epic war td arcade +chapter +4 ] (using spaces again)
      or [ epic war td arcade "chapter 4" ]

      so the operators work like this:
      +Word (space to end operand)
      -Word (space to end operand)
      "Word Word" (starts and ends between the ")
      intitle:Word (space to end operand)

      in respect to your second part youtube has never looked intelligently inside the videos, if you create a video with the sound of a tv show and the video from another you'll get copyright strike for the sound not the video, now if you use a unedited video of a tv show with no sound you will probably get a strike but not because of the entire video, youtube has a library with pictures of unedited copyrighted shows and it will compare those to still images from the video and if it matches it will send your video link to the company owner and they will review and send the strike, in this case is not automated, thats why mirrored tv shows or scale down and speed up sound are not striked by youtube but by users that stop by and flag them.
      So asking for youtube to distinguish between still pictures and actual video and stating that it's "not that hard" it's far from reality, just last year a prototype AI started to distinguish photos and categorize them after years of development and still makes a lot of errors and that is just pictures, forget about watching videos and categorizing them, that's just not here yet.

  4. Zeke Krahlin
    May 25, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    I need to find comments, not video titles. This method doesn't let me actually drill down to /any/ comment on /any/ video that has a specific phrase. For example, if I want to find any comment for /any/ video that includes the exact phrase "soupy sales." I only get the phrase in video titles, if any.

    • Tim
      May 29, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      Good point. There are so many holes in youtube's functionality.

    • Simon
      September 27, 2016 at 11:25 pm

      If you need to search the "comments" belonging to any set of videos, you are in the GREAT minority of users who would want that, and therefore Google should NOT even consider it.

      Protecting the simplicity of the U.I. for 99% of people is much more important than giving 1% of users some special feature that only God knows why you would want.

      Bug fix status: trash

      • zeke Krahlin
        November 19, 2018 at 2:40 am

        You are so wrong about that, Simon. YT comments are all text based, and thus should be easy to search. What if I want to find what comments a particular subscriber posted? There's no way to do that! What if i wanted to get back to someone who posted a comment worth replying to...and I remember a phrase within the comment, that should be easy to find with a simple search? No, can't do that. What if I wanted to get people's opinions on a particular subject, but didn't want to do it by the video title alone? Nope, can't do that...thanks to Google's intentional sabotage of their search engine on YT.

    • JoeBob
      April 20, 2017 at 12:56 am

      More advanced search parameters overall would way increase Youtube's utility. I don't think you can even specify a duration range for your video results.

  5. asd
    January 30, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    worked. thanks

  6. Aleksey
    January 9, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    + Does not work.

    • oct8
      January 24, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      yes does not work if you add spaces.
      it's (operand)WORD(space to end) ie: +Doesnotwork_ (space is "_" for this example)

  7. David
    December 28, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Still not possible to search for highly rated videos that are also popular (i.e. exclude those hundreds of results with like 5 views and 2 positive ratings).

    • junggle
      January 3, 2016 at 9:55 am

      exactly my thinking.
      if the search algorithm used both eyes (popularity AND rating) it would give much better results from my point of view.

  8. Ryu Shin
    December 10, 2015 at 5:02 am

    Hi, can you please help me. This is only lately that it's been happening. I already tried all the above steps that you have provided but none of those had help me. It's just showing the same result. I was actually looking for Japanese romantic tv series ZETTAI KARESHI Special episode. I've already experimented with the words and even attempted to use name of actors but it's just showing few super irrelevant tv series. Please help me.

  9. mohammed
    January 6, 2015 at 6:29 am

    in the last three years, i noticed that google is not the same.
    the quality of results is not near what it was,

    i remember a time that the 5th page of google was the beginning of geeks area!
    now, you may reach the 20th, and still wondering did i spell it right?
    another problem… commercials!

    still appreciate google position abut ads,
    but, when i search for something, at least 1/2 the page result are from some chinese commercial sites.
    regardless of filters or signs i used.
    either google allowed them, or they beat the system, whatever
    , i think the problem is in google itself,
    anyway.. who are wee to blame them ?
    in the end we had our happy times together? and just like everything els, it was too good to continue.
    thank you.

  10. Pink_123
    February 24, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    hey whats up

  11. Ninabigbooies
    February 24, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    is any one there that wants to talk

  12. Citizenearth
    February 7, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Simple and nice. Cool.

  13. Susendeep dutta
    February 5, 2011 at 6:13 am

    These tricks mentioned above is also useful for our Google searches.This article has given me a short and quick new ideas to search relevant things and act smartly.

    • Ann Smarty
      February 5, 2011 at 9:14 am

      Yes, like I said in the post, these are inherently Google search operators!

  14. Kushan
    February 4, 2011 at 5:18 pm


  15. Ahmed
    February 1, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    YouTube has become a part of our daily life so spending some time learning how to use it better is highly valuable - excellent article, short and sweet

    • Pink_123
      February 24, 2011 at 8:23 pm

      hey whats up

  16. Brij Mohan
    February 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Nice Tips!!!

  17. Ben Lang
    February 1, 2011 at 3:20 am

    Awesome tips, thanks MUO!

    • Aibek
      February 1, 2011 at 3:31 am

      you're welcome

    • Ann Smarty
      February 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm

      I was hoping to be useful! Thanks for stopping by!

      • zeke Krahlin
        November 19, 2018 at 2:35 am

        Not very useful at all...see my earlier post here.