For so many of us, YouTube is a legitimate alternative to TV. On YouTube, you’ll not only find daily vlogs, travel journals, educational shows, and sketch shows, but also some really impressive web series. And if you’re like me, you watch most of it on your phone.
But the YouTube experience on a little 5.5-inch screen isn’t always optimal. What if you want to listen to audio in the background? Or watch videos while doing other things on your phone? Read on for the best tips and tricks for the YouTube Android app.
1. Double Tap Gesture
The new YouTube app has a really useful double tap gesture. Tap twice on the left side of the screen to jump back 10 seconds (and on the right side to jump forward by 10 seconds).
This gesture is much better and faster than tapping the screen and then manually moving the seek bar. This becomes especially tiresome if you’re watching a long video.
And here’s a pro YouTube tip. You can even adjust the length. By default, it’s 10 seconds, but you can increase it all the way up to 60 seconds! From the YouTube app, tap on your profile picture and select Settings. From here, go to General and select Double-tap to seek.
2. Disable Autoplay
Autoplay is a great feature. Especially when it’s the end of the day and all you want to do is watch YouTube videos, one after the other. But it’s also a huge time suck.
When you’re viewing a video, you’ll find the Autoplay toggle right next to the Up next queue.
3. Clear and Pause Search History
If your Android phone frequently ends up with your friends or family member, you might want to consider clearing and pausing both the watch history and the search history. This way, there’s no log of what you’ve watched, and there’s no chance of related content showing up in the recommended list when someone else is watching from your device.
Go to Settings > History & Privacy and turn on Pause watch History and Pause search History features. From the top, you can clear current watch history and search history as well.
4. Swipe Up for Related Videos
When you’re watching a video and you’re just not that into it, you don’t need to go all the way back to the app’s home screen to find another video to watch. Just swipe up and you’ll get a horizontally scrolling list of recommended videos. Tap on one and the video will start playing.
5. Change Video Quality
If you’re on a fast but limited internet connection, watching YouTube videos can be a huge gamble for your bandwidth. When you start watching a video, tap on the menu button, select Quality, and then switch to a lower resolution (360p is a good compromise between quality and bandwidth).
6. Make Watch Later Actually Useful
Watch Later has always been one of those classic Google features where its potential was never realized.
Now, Google is slowly starting to make it more useful. You’ll actually see some Watch Later videos show up in your feed from time to time, and you’ll get notifications about Watch Later videos as well.
However, the most frustrating thing about the Watch Later feature is its default sorting method. When you go to Library > Watch Later, you’ll find that the playlist is sorted chronologically. To find the newest video, you’ll have to scroll to the bottom of the list. How archaic is that! Thankfully, you can now flip this. From the Watch Later section, tap on the Sort button and switch to Date added (newest).
To add videos to your Watch Later list, tap on the Add to Playlists icon and select Watch Later.
7. Share Videos With Friends
YouTube now comes with a chat feature. Oddly enough, though, it doesn’t integrate with your Google+ friends. Once you’ve invited a friend, you’ll be able to chat with them and share videos right on YouTube.
When you’re watching a video, tap on the Share button. From the top, swipe between the avatars to find the contact you’re looking for. Tap on their avatar and send it off.
8. Picture in Picture in Oreo (and YouTube Red)
Officially, Picture in Picture for YouTube is only available for YouTube Red members ($9.99/month) with Android 8.0 Oreo devices.
Press the Home button when viewing a YouTube video, and the video will shrink into a floating box. You can move it around on the screen.
If you want to turn this feature off, open the Settings app on your Android phone and go to Apps & notifications > Advanced > Special access > Picture-in-picture. From here, find YouTube and toggle off Allow picture-in-picture.
9. Picture in Picture for Everyone Else
In case you’re not running Android Oreo and can’t access YouTube Red (which, at this point, is most of the world), don’t worry. Float Tube is a third party app that will give you the same functionality (although not the same experience).
Open the app and start searching for the video you want. Tap on a video to see the details page, and then tap on the Popup button. The video will start playing in the floating window.
Press the Home button, and the video will stay on top of everything. Tap on the video for play/pause controls and for the option to disable the popup mode.
Download: Float Tube [No Longer Available]
10. Download Videos and Listen in Background
And now for one of the most highly requested YouTube tricks: downloading a video. Video downloads and background audio are features exclusive to YouTube Red. The only alternative is to download an app that’s not in the Play Store.
NewPipe is a privacy-focused open-source YouTube player that has an offline feature, background audio feature, and a floating player. If you want periodic updates to the app, it’s best to download the app from F-Droid’s App Store itself.
To do this, first download the F-Droid APK and sideload it. (What is an APK?) Then search for NewPipe and download and install the app. Alternatively, you can directly install NewPipe using the APK.
Start by searching for a video. Once you select the video from the list, you’ll find the Download button at the top and the Background button below the description. Tap on the Background button, and the audio playback of the video will begin instantly. You can now lock your phone and continue listening to the audio in the background.
Tap on the Download button, and you’ll get an option to download the video or the audio. You can select the video resolution as well.
However, YouTube does have a download feature for certain countries even without YouTube Red. If you’re in Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, or Yemen, you can download videos right in the YouTube app. For everyone else, look into using a YouTube playlist downloader.
You’ll find the download button next to the video title. Go to the Library > Downloads to manage your downloaded videos.
While still in beta, YouTube Go is another good option for not only downloading videos offline but also sharing them with your friends without the need for an active internet connection.
Extra: Noteworthy Settings
Limit Mobile Data: From YouTube Settings, go to General and enable the Limit mobile data usage option. This will help you reduce your cellular data usage.
Change the Region: If you don’t like the trending section in your country, or you want to watch videos that are not available in your country, you can switch your region from Settings > General > Content Location.
Disable YouTube App Notifications: Sometimes YouTube notifications can be a bit much. You can try fine-tuning YouTube notifications or you can disable them altogether from Settings > Notifications.
Did These Tips and Tricks Work for You?
Hopefully these tips and tricks can help you get the most out of the YouTube app on your Android phone or tablet.
How did these work for you? Any others you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.