How to Search YouTube Like a PRO with Google Advanced Operators

I love YouTube. I use it for inspiration or to kill an idle hour (which I normally don’t have). I love the variety of user-generated content: different styles, topics and perspectives. I love it that YouTube is huge.

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But with the resource being enormous comes one issue: it is almost impossible to search it efficiently. And there are no official guides on how to search YouTube to actually find something.

However, not many people know how flexible YouTube’s search function actually is.

About 2 years ago (maybe more) Google started operating YouTube search — if you haven’t noticed Google Video Search and YouTube search have even identical (advanced) search options. And with Google coming into play, there turns out to be some really tricky and smart ways to search YouTube using Google search operators Master the Google Operands: Search Really Fast Read More .

The Issue

YouTube (like Google Video Search) has some handy sorting options that allow you to find videos by:

  • Relevancy (based on your search query);
  • Upload date (to find most recent videos);
  • View count (to find the most viewed videos);
  • Rating (to find the highest rated videos).

I love using the latter two options to look through the most popular YouTube videos on any topic.

The only issue is that when you sort by anything other than relevancy, the results are likely to be highly irrelevant.

Let’s compare:

youtube search

Sorting makes results absolutely off-topic. Luckily, we do have an option to sort YouTube search results while still getting relevant results: YouTube advanced search operators.

YouTube Advanced Search Operators

I don’t think the search operators I am listing here are anywhere to be found in YouTube’s documentation. All that is listed on the official “Advanced YouTube search” page is the set of the usual search options you see below the search field:

You can filter results by:

  • Type of results, such as Videos, Channels, or Playlists
  • Subject category
  • Video length
  • Video quality
  • Features, such as Closed captions, Partner videos, or Rentals

However, as we have seen above, filtering and sorting seldom triggers relevant results.

To bypass this issue, you need to use advanced operators which were inherited from Google search and are really very helpful:

1. Use quotes to force the exact match

This operator may come particularly in handy when you are sure which exact key phrases you want to be included into the search results, for example, the name of a movie or a music clip.

youtube video search

2. Use plus (+) sign to force a word in the results

If one of your words gets dropped out from search results, this operator may save a lot of your time. Similarly, you can use the minus (-) sign to force YouTube search to exclude any irrelevant but persistent words from the search results.

youtube video search

3. Force any word to appear in the video title with help of INTITLE: operator

This trick turns out to be very useful if you, for example, keep getting irrelevant results (video pages that only mention your search term in comments or loosely in description).

youtube search tips

Any more YouTube search tricks to force relevant results even when using sorting options?

Explore more about: Google Search, Web Search, YouTube.

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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.