YouTube has improved dramatically over the years as one of the largest video platforms. And as the platform has continued to grow, it has been inundated with many features that you may not be aware of yet.
Here are some of the best hidden features on YouTube that you should know about.
1. Check your YouTube watch time
Many of us spend a lot of time watching YouTube videos day after day without even realizing it. However, you should keep track of the amount of time you spend watching videos on the platform, especially if other parts of your life are suffering without knowing it.
Fortunately, YouTube has a dedicated feature that allows you to see the amount of time you spend watching videos on the platform called observed time. You can access it by opening the app by tapping on your profile at the top right and selecting observed time.
On this page, you’ll see the amount of time you’ve spent on YouTube today and in the last seven days. Just keep in mind that this stat does not include numbers from YouTube Music and YouTube TV.
2. Set reminders to take breaks
If you’re concerned about the amount of time you spend on YouTube, you can regulate it using a hidden feature that reminds you to take breaks. Tap your profile photo in the top right corner and select observed time. On the page, select remind me to take a break and set the frequency of your reminder from the popup window.
Once you’re done, tap okay. From now on, YouTube will send you a notification to remind you to take a break after you have watched videos for a specified period of time.
3. Use pinch to zoom
Pinch to zoom allows you to zoom in and out on any video you are watching. This is useful if you want a closer view of something in a video, such as when you’re watching lectures and the instructor is writing on a whiteboard. You can zoom up to 8x, which provides a good amount of detail as long as the object of interest isn’t too far from the camera.
We’ve already covered how to use YouTube’s Pinch to Zoom feature, so you should check out the guide for more details.
4. Enable and disable autoplay
YouTube’s autoplay feature automatically starts playing the next recommended video after the one you’re watching ends. Depending on your preference, this can be good or bad, so you may want to enable or disable the feature.
Autoplay is enabled by default if you are 18 years of age or older. If this is not what you want, you can disable the feature by tapping on your YouTube profile in the top right of your phone, then selecting Settings > Autoplayand toggle the function according to your preferences. However, this will only affect playback on smartphones and tablets, not on the web or other platforms.
5. Enable and disable playback in sources
When you open YouTube, you’ll notice that a video on the screen will always start playing by default. This feature can come in handy at times, giving you a preview of the video before playing it. However, your data could run out quickly if you have a limited data plan.
The good news is that YouTube gives you full control of this feature. Turn it off by tapping on your profile in the top right, then select Settings > Generaland select Playback in feeds. Disable the feature by selecting Off or, to save data packages, select Wi-Fi only therefore, video playback only occurs when connected to Wi-Fi.
6. Start using ambient mode
Ambient mode helps add an extra boost to the videos you watch by giving you a more immersive experience. It does this by adding a splashed color gradient around the video player.
The color gradient is generated dynamically as the video plays, so it matches the dominant color in the current frame. In case you’re interested in more details, we have a guide on how to use YouTube Ambient mode on both mobile and desktop.
7. Try YouTube incognito mode
In browsers, incognito mode improves privacy by preventing websites from tracking you. You can also use incognito mode to prevent YouTube from tracking your activity on the platform. If you want to watch videos without them being added to your watch history or used by YouTube for recommendations, use this feature.
On mobile, tap your profile photo in the top right corner and select activate incognito. Disable the feature by tapping the incognito icon at the top right and selecting disable incognito. However, you don’t have to disable the feature manually. If you’re inactive, YouTube will automatically delete your activity during the session, close incognito mode, and return you to your last used account.
8. Multitask with Picture-in-Picture mode
We have all been in a situation where we would like to play a YouTube video in the background. You can achieve this with YouTube’s picture-in-picture mode. Shrinks the video to a small player that is displayed on top of other apps. You can move the player and place it where you want.
To enable picture-in-picture mode, start by enabling the feature on your mobile device. On iOS, open Settings > General > Picture in Picture and activate Start PiP automatically.
You can do this on Android by opening Settings > Apps > Special app access > Picture-in-picture, then select YouTube from the list and enable the feature on the next page. However, on Android, the steps will vary depending on your device.
Once you have enabled the feature on your device, open YouTube, tap on your profile picture, select Settings > Generaland then turn on picture in picture. Finally, quit YouTube while a video is playing to enter picture-in-picture mode.
However, there is a catch. You cannot view certain content, such as music videos, in picture-in-picture mode unless you subscribe to YouTube Premium if you are in the US. For those outside of the US, you must be a YouTube subscriber premium to access the feature. Despite this requirement, there are other ways to play YouTube videos in the background.
9. Show video transcripts
YouTube automatically generates written transcripts for videos uploaded to the platform. The only problem is that the automatically generated transcripts are usually not 100% correct.
You can check the video transcript in the YouTube mobile app by tapping on a video title and selecting Show Transcript. On the desktop, you can see the same by clicking the More (three dots) next to Shorten at the bottom of the video player and selecting Show Transcript. If you can’t see the option, the YouTuber disabled subtitles on that video.
Enhance your YouTube experience
You can enjoy YouTube to its full potential by taking advantage of all the listed features. The only feature you have to pay for is picture-in-picture mode on Android or iOS. There are other features available for everyone to use for free, so you should start using them for a better YouTube experience.