10 little-known YouTube tips and tricks

Check out these 10 little-known tips and tricks that will have you using YouTube in a completely different way!
By Stephen Chapman on
1 of 10 Stephen Chapman/ZDNet

Have you ever clicked on a video simply because of the image you see in the thumbnail? Well, instead of waiting for it to pop up at some point in the video, the following steps will allow you to see it instantly:

1: Right-click on the video when it starts playing. (Note: You have to wait until ads finish playing or until you can skip them.)

2: From the menu that appears, click "Stop download."

3: Money.

Once you see what it was that made you click on the video in the first place, the next cool thing might be to somehow save the image, right? Lucky for you, I'm going to show you how to do that (and then some) in the next YouTube trick!

2 of 10 Stephen Chapman/ZDNet

If you've ever seen images in YouTube videos (or any other video on the Internet, for that matter) that you'd like to save, then you might be thrilled to learn you can not only save them, but you can also find them in much higher resolution! Sound crazy? Prepare to get your geek on! This trick may seem quite involved, but I promise you that once you do it a handful of times, it won't take you but ~7-10 seconds to find a high-resolution version of the image you're seeking!

1: Pause the video you're watching at the exact spot where the image you want to save is being shown.

2: Use your operating system's "print screen" functionality to take a screen shot of the image you want to save. If you have Windows 7, use the Snipping Tool application that ships with the OS. If you have a Mac, use Command + Shift + 4. Alternately, you can take a screen shot of your entire desktop (which copies it to your clipboard), then open your favorite image editor, paste the image into it, then crop out the specific image you want to save.

3: Now that you have a standalone image of the picture you're interested in, head on over to Google Images. See the tiny little camera icon inside the search box, just to the left of the search button? Click that little camera and you'll see a box pop up that says "Search by image." Within that box, look for the blue text that says "Upload an image," then click it.

4: Now click the "Browse" button, then find the image you took a screen shot of and select it to upload. (Alternately, you can simply click and drag the image into that search box field.)

5: Once your image uploads, Google will then quickly search its massive index of images to find images that look exactly like (or similar to) the image you uploaded! You can sort these images by size, so as to find the highest-resolution one you can find.

6: Cash flow.

Now, there isn't a guarantee that your image will be found, but this method is successful for me ~98% of the time. And the best part about it is that you can use this method for *any* image you see on the Web! Reverse image search truly is an enriching way to search.


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3 of 10 Stephen Chapman/ZDNet

Have you ever seen a top-voted comment on a YouTube video that made you wonder why on earth so many people would give it a thumbs-up? For instance, a comment that says something like: "WWW ZDNET COM for pure lulz!"

YouTube currently makes it far too simple for people to pull this kind of trickery off. All you need is a YouTube video that you'd like to target (preferably, one without top-voted comments that have too many thumbs-ups), a comment, and a handful of Gmail accounts. Once you have those, all you have to do is write your comment, post it, then give it a thumbs-up from every single Gmail account you have.

For added effect, you can also use those Gmail accounts to down-vote the current top-voted comments while up-voting your own. You can also make the process quite efficient by copying the video URL so that you can paste it after every time you log-in to YouTube with another Gmail account.

Lastly, if you're wondering why I'm mentioning this trick, it's not so that every spammer out there can use it (chances are, they already know). It's because I think YouTube should at least track votes by IP address. Then, it wouldn't matter how many Gmail accounts were used, because they would all come from the same IP address, so only one would count. Yes, I know there are proxies and all, but as you can see, it's WAY TOO SIMPLE to game the comment-voting system as-is.

4 of 10 Stephen Chapman/ZDNet

If you're like me, there are certain people you like to keep up with. One such person, for me, is Sam Harris. He gives presentations all over the country and, sometimes, those presentations get posted to YouTube by attendees who record them. As such, here's an example of how I keep up with the most recent Sam Harris content on YouTube:

1: Go to YouTube and perform a search for Sam Harris.

2: Once the search results load, look for the button on the left-hand side towards the top labeled "Filter" and click it.

3: From the drop-down panel, on the left-hand side, you'll see "Sort by." Beneath it, click "Upload date."

4: Casheesh.

From this point, you can view results for your search term based on when the videos were uploaded. This method of sorting results is useful for a number of reasons -- another of which being educational content. Anyway, try it out sometime and see what you find!

5 of 10 Stephen Chapman/ZDNet

Did you know that there are unlisted videos on YouTube? These videos are different from private videos, in that they're public, but they just don't show up in search results within YouTube! The purpose for this is so that you can post a video to share with as many people as you'd like (be it in private, or perhaps embedding it on your own Web site for everyone to see), but it won't be seen by anyone searching YouTube.

The screen shot above is from an unlisted YouTube video. If you're of the curious-minded, you might have a reason or three to search for such videos. Lucky for you, I recently wrote a detailed post describing exactly how you can go about finding them! Click here to read the post and have fun seeing what kind of content you can dig up from unlisted videos on YouTube!

6 of 10 Stephen Chapman/ZDNet

I don't know what it is, but it seems that more times than not -- regardless of Internet speed or graphics capabilities -- YouTube videos just won't load right. Refreshing the page doesn't seem to help, and if I just leave it to load, it either loads at a snail's pace or not at all. However, there's a trick that seems to work for me most of the time to "force" a video to load properly: changing the video's resolution.

Most videos these days have at least 3 resolutions you can choose from, so rarely am I unable to attempt this when necessary. Reference the screen shot above to see where to click (it's highlighted in yellow) to change a video's resolution, then give it a try sometime!

7 of 10 Stephen Chapman/ZDNet

I like to download YouTube videos for a number of reasons -- one of which being so that I'll have them in case they're ever deleted for some reason (copyright complaints, video removal by user, users deleting their accounts, etc.). As such, KeepVid is never far from my fingertips on the keyboard. Here's how to use it:

1: When you're watching a YouTube video that you'd like to keep, copy the URL from the address bar.

2: Go to KeepVid, paste the URL you copied into the box that says "Enter video URL or search here," then click the download button (or just hit the "enter" key).

3: Now, simply select the video quality and format that you would like to download, and voila!

4: Bank on it.

If you're interested in learning more about downloading YouTube videos -- including using other types of programs -- be sure to check out this recent post of mine where I go into this topic in-depth.


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8 of 10 Stephen Chapman/ZDNet

Though YouTube has had this feature enabled for quite some time now, the option is so buried that I find many have no clue it exists at all! If you're wondering exactly what this tip is by the title, basically, if you want to share a video with someone and have it start at, say, the 3:14 time mark, then you can do just that! Here's how (reference the screen shot above):

1: Underneath the video's timeline, look for the "Share" button, then click it.

2: Once the URL drops down underneath the button, look beneath it for a link that says "Options" with a tiny downward-pointing arrow to the right of it. (Note: It will be located where you see the word "Close" in the screen shot above.)

3: Check the box next to "Start at," then simply select a time you would like the video to start at! You can enter the time manually, or click a spot along the timeline.

4: Copy your fresh, new URL that you see in the box above and share away!

5: $.

9 of 10 Stephen Chapman/ZDNet

One of my personal favorite facets of YouTube is the ability to hover my mouse anywhere above a video's timeline and see a thumbnail of any given section of the video -- even if the video isn't loaded! This is great for quickly finding certain scenes in video clips you've seen that you might want to share with someone (recall the previous tip, where you can share a video with someone at a certain time frame). The only grab is that the video has to be at least 720p for this to work.

As for how to do it, fortunately, it really is as simple as hovering your mouse anywhere over the video's timeline. In the screen shot above, I show how you can see what's ahead in the clip even though you can see that the video wasn't yet loaded up to that point. This feature is also great for really long YouTube videos, including educational movies, indie movies, etc. -- again, so long as they're in HD.

10 of 10 Stephen Chapman/ZDNet

Whether you've never uploaded a YouTube video, or simply haven't done much beyond uploading a video with a title and description, YouTube now has some pretty snazzy tools you can use to really enhance and change your videos! Imagine a photo editor, except for videos.

As seen in the screen shot above, once you've uploaded a video and you go to it via your Video Manager, click the "Enhancements" section to get it to load. From there, you can do all sorts of real-time editing to your video, including "quick fixes," adding/removing visual effects, and even adding music. Just play around with the features sometime to get a feel for what YouTube is capable of as a video editor. Oh, and best of all, since the editing happens in real-time, the results from your changes are showcased side-by-side with your unedited video. That allows you to really get a feel for exactly what's changing as you make your changes!

And just to give you an idea to use with one of the previous tips I listed, you could upload a video and set it to unlisted, edit it using YouTube's video editing features, then download the edited version using KeepVid! It may seem like a lot just to edit a video, but if you've nothing else at your disposal with the tool set YouTube provides for you, then it may end up being just what you need.

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