Internet Self Improvement

How To Set Up YouTube For Better Learning

Joel Lee 21-11-2014

If you aren’t already using YouTube to expand your mind and learn new skills, it’s time for you to catch up. There’s so much free knowledge available out there. Why not take advantage of it?

Want to learn a musical instrument? How about learning how to draw Learn To Draw Anything Thanks To YouTube [Stuff to Watch] Whether you're having trouble drawing facial features like eyes or haven't got a clue how to tackle a 3D perspective, it's YouTube to the rescue! Read More ? For the handyman there are tutorials on DIY basics Learn Basic DIY Skills Online With YouTube While DIY falls in and out of fashion depending on the state of the economy, individual styles, and the availability of professionals and materials, there will always be someone, somewhere keen to learn basic DIY... Read More and for the code-minded there are computer programming lessons 14+ YouTube Playlists To Watch & Learn Computer Programming Quickly With the advent and growth of YouTube and plenty of other high-quality video-sharing websites and tools like flashcard software, learning new things visually by yourself has never been easier. Since it never hurts to learn... Read More . If you feel like building your skills and knowledge, YouTube will always have some great starter videos.

But the YouTube interface is not always conducive to study and learning. Presumably, it’s been designed to distract you so that you’re constantly clicking from video to video. Here are some tips to clean up YouTube and get the most out of it.

Finding Educational Channels

YouTube is massive. There are billions of videos to sift through, making it difficult to separate the quality videos from the not-so-quality ones. We only have so much free time in the day — who wants to spend hours browsing through dirt for the occasional gem?

Some of our recommendations can get you started on the right foot. Check out some of the best general education channels The Five Best Educational YouTube Channels Read More , science channels 10 Science YouTube Channels You Can't Miss The word science essentially means knowledge, and it is this quest for learning and understanding that has driven mankind to the height of its power. The Web offers ample opportunity to disperse that knowledge to... Read More , sex education channels Want To Know But Afraid to Ask? 5 Sex Education YouTube Channels For teenagers, getting information about sex and sexuality can be a challenge. When you don't know who to ask, these YouTube channels can help you out. Read More , and a few finance channels 10 YouTube Channels To Learn How To Invest Money Read More . That’s just scratching the surface.


One interesting place to look is YouTube EDU, a YouTube-sanctioned channel that delivers free lessons and courses by top educators from around the world. From academic lectures to inspirational speeches, all videos are categorized for stress-free browsing.

But the best thing to do is to compile videos into learning playlists Teach Yourself Anything: 3 Ways To Create Your Own Learning Playlists Learning playlists are just as useful for flipped teaching as they are for learning anything on your own. They help you curate the best from the Web. Here are three tools to create your own. Read More . Not only do playlists keep the material organized and easy to follow, they prime you for deliberate practice Want To Become An Expert At Something? Try Deliberate Practice It's all too easy to feel crestfallen when you're arduously trying to improve a certain skill. Use the power of "deliberate practice" to get you over those infuriating plateaus. Read More , a technique that every learner should internalize.

Eliminating Distractions

There are few things more distracting on YouTube than the comments section. No matter how many times it undergoes renovation, it always seems to attract the worst trolls from the deepest Internet caves. Fortunately, with ViewPure, that’s no longer an issue.


You can use it in two ways:

  1. Go to ViewPure and paste in a YouTube URL
  2. Create a “Purify” bookmarklet that you can click while browsing YouTube.

Instructions for both are on the site. Purifying a URL lets you watch the video without any comments, related videos, or advertisements.

Taking Notes On Each Video

How useful would it be if you could take notes on a per-video basis? YouTube doesn’t provide innate functionality for that, which means we need to keep a separate set of asynchronous notes — a process that’s both annoying and prone to errors. That’s where VideoNotes comes in handy.


Opening a YouTube video through VideoNotes provides you with a side-by-side text editor that you can use to write and store time-synced notes for that video. These notes can be saved with Google Drive How Secure Are Your Documents In Google Drive? Read More , which means they’ll be accessible from anywhere. Piggybacking on Google Drive also makes it just the right fit for collaborative learning with your friends.

As a bonus, VideoNotes also works for several other video learning sites 3 Best Websites To Get A University Level Education For Free The idea that you are never done learning has never been more true than today. The Internet has revolutionized the way we access information and knowledge - formerly a luxury accessible only to the rich... Read More . For more information, check out our overview of VideoNotes Learn How To Take Notes While Watching An Online Video With Some ideas are so simple that you are left wondering why anyone didn’t think of it before; especially Google which has YouTube under its large umbrella. The idea I am talking about here relates to... Read More .

Unblocking YouTube Videos

One big annoyance with YouTube is the dreaded region block. Most channels that offer educational resources won’t lock their content behind such a wall. But in case it does happen, you should know that there are legal methods of unblocking a region-blocked video.


The easiest way to bypass the regional filter How to Easily Bypass YouTube's Regional Filter Want to get around YouTube region locks? Here are your options for unblocking YouTube videos unavailable in your region. Read More is to use a proxy website that handles the details for you. For example, with Unblock YouTube, all you have to do is paste in the URL of the YouTube video and the site will perform its magic behind the scenes.

But a better solution would be to install a browser extension designed to unblock these videos. There are several from which you can choose:

These tools work by routing the YouTube video request through a proxy service, which makes it appear as if the end user (you) is from a different country. If all of the proxy service regions are blocked then these tools won’t work, but that shouldn’t happen very often.

Installing YouTube Center

Perhaps YouTube is incredibly distracting and you want to cull those distractions without having to rely on an external tool (such as ViewPure). What can you do? Have no fear because there’s a certain browser extension that will transform your YouTube experience.

It’s called YouTube Center, which is available on Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and more.


This extension is packed full of features that not only clean up the messy YouTube interface but introduce extra functionality. It comes with dozens of options that you can tweak to customize YouTube to your preferences. This is what vanilla YouTube ought to be.

What can you do with it?

  • Remove advertisements.
  • Alter various layout options to change up YouTube’s interface.
  • Alter various behavior options for the video player and playlists.
  • “Lights Off” mode that darkens everything but the video when playing.
  • Easy one-click downloading of videos.

These distraction removal features combined with added functionality can really help to create an environment that makes it easier to focus and learn.

Your YouTube Tips

We all have our own personal tricks and tips for improving our productivity when using YouTube. What are yours? How do you minimize YouTube distractions and maximize your productivity? Share your advice and thoughts with us below!

Image Credits: Education Via Shutterstock

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  1. Isaac Harris
    March 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Unfortunately, I have yet to find a YouTube unblocker that works anymore. I would be interested in knowing how others may have gotten these unblockers to work, but I haven't seen one work in a long time.

    • Joel
      March 12, 2015 at 4:09 am

      I'm sorry to hear that. Which region are you in and which unblockers have you tried? I can't guarantee that I'll find a solution for you, but I can try.

  2. GB
    November 27, 2014 at 3:16 am

    How to install it on chrome as the extension page has been removed by google and downloading the crx file and trying to install it is not working.

    • Joel Lee
      December 3, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      If you go to this page (, scroll down to the download section and you'll see mirrors for the Chrome extension. Google's takedown is being reviewed right now, but the mirrors seem to be working fine.

    • GB
      December 3, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      Joel - Mirror is working fine and I can download the crx [extension] file. But chrome won't let me install it. I get an error message: Apps, extensions, and user scripts cannot be added from this website.

      So no go....

    • Joel Lee
      December 3, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      Oh, I see what you mean. Sorry, my mistake.

      Go back to the download link, right click, and Save As. This should download the YouTubeCenter.crx file.

      Then, in Chrome, open up your extensions manager. (A shortcut is to type "chrome://extensions" into the address bar without the quotes.)

      Then, drag-and-drop the .crx file into Chrome while the extensions manager is open. This should allow you to install third-party extensions.

      Hope this helps!

    • GB
      December 4, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      Joel - That worked like a charm. Thanks for being so helpful.

  3. Richard
    November 25, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Mostly yes, I will occasionally allow myself to watch one or two videos, but otherwise everything is text.

  4. Richard
    November 24, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Or you could do like I have, limited internet of 35GB a month, unable to watch a lot of videos to learn new things. Which is also annoying as more and more online learning websites come out, yes video courses :(

    • Joel Lee
      November 25, 2014 at 5:55 am

      Ah, data caps are unfortunate. I'm not really sure if there's a way to work around that. If someone could solve that, it would be a massive gamechanger. Do you just ignore videos altogether, then?

  5. must
    November 21, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    very interesting and informatif article thanks