5 YouTube Hacks You Had No Idea You Needed

It’s kind of weird to me that YouTube is over a decade old; despite its ubiquity, I still feel kind of like it’s this new, exciting thing. Well, it may not be new anymore, but it is still exciting — and fun little YouTube hacks and tricks keep emerging all the time, so there’s always something new to learn. And hey, anything that makes everyday activities easier is good, right?

I still remember the very first video I ever watched on YouTube: The trailer for the movie Lucky Number Slevin. I was living in London at the time, so I was relatively out of touch with American media; my brother, however, emailed it to me because we knew someone who had worked on it. Somehow I didn’t actually end up seeing the full movie until last year (hi there, Netflix!), but whenever I think of YouTube, I still think of that trailer. It used to be so hard to get a hold of videos online, and even harder to play them without crashing your computer — but YouTube definitely changed all that.

So here. In honor of this modern miracle, have a couple of tips and tricks that’ll help you make the most of it, straight from the source. You’re welcome.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some cat videos to go watch.

1. Learn Your Keyboard Shortcuts

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Most of our favorite programs, websites, and gadgets have keyboard shortcuts these days, and YouTube is no exception. Use K to pause or play a video, J to rewind 10 seconds, L to fast-forward 10 seconds, and M to mute. Easy peasy.

2. Test New Features Before They Drop

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If you’re the type who enjoys beta testing, YouTube has something right up your proverbial alley. It’s called TestTube (of course — what else could it be?), and it’s part of Google’s User Experience Research program. It’s free to sign up for, although it’ll take about a half hour to complete all the surveys used to gather your demographic data; once you’ve got those in, though, you’ll be able to give new and experimental features a try as Google figures out what works best for its users. Take a look here.

3. Make It A Blockbuster Night

Or at least, make it the updated version of a Blockbuster night. If that movie you really, really wanted to watch isn’t on your streaming service of choice, and you can’t be bothered to go find a Redbox, guess what? You can rent full movies on YouTube. Older releases will generally be cheaper than newer ones, but that’s pretty par for the course when you rent a movie. Have fun, kids.

4. Use Your Google Skills To Find Exactly What You’re Looking For

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You know how, when you search Google, you can use specific commands to narrow down your search? You can use those same commands when searching YouTube. Adding quotation marks will search for an entire phrase; using a plus or minus sign will include or omit results; sticking “allintitle” in the search box before you type your keywords will make sure every keyword you search for will be in each result; adding “HD” or “3D” to you search will give you high-definition or 3D results; and adding “channel” or “playlist” will search for (surprise) specific channels or playlists.

5. Turn Your Phone Into A Remote Control

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So, hey, you know how most televisions these days come with one of those fancy remote control devices that let you change the channel and stuff right from your couch? YouTube has an equivalent: Your smartphone. There are a couple of ways to pair your phone to another kind of device — your computer, your TV, your gaming console — but here’s how I did it.

I wanted to pair my phone with my computer, so first, I went to http://www.youtube.com/tv on my PC. Then I went to the Settings menu by clicking on the icon that looks like three dots on the right hand side. From there, I clicked on “pair device,” which brought up a screen that looked like this:

Next, I picked up my phone, opened the browser, and went to http://www.youtube.com/pair. I entered the pairing code there:

And voila! Suddenly, any YouTube video I brought up my phone got streamed to my computer.

There’s also a way to do this with the YouTube app, but I had trouble getting it to work; maybe you’ll have more luck. Head here for more info.

Images: Giphy (5); Lucia Peters/Bustle (2)