YouTube features you didn’t know existed

YouTube is one of the most popular sites on the internet and, though you might use it on a daily basis, it’s got a number of useful features you may not know about.

Some of these are hidden in places you might never have thought of exploring, while others are on display but low-key enough to slip under the radar.

We’ve rounded up a selection of the best YouTube tips and tricks.

Play in the background

One of the YouTube app’s most frustrating shortcomings is the inability to play music videos in the background or when you’re phone’s locked. There is a way around this, but only on iOS. Open the YouTube website in Safari, play a video and then press your iPhone’s home button. After that, launch the Control Centre by sliding up from the bottom of the screen and tap play.

Loop videos

YouTube’s looping option on desktop is really useful, but nowhere near as easy to find as it should be. To loop a video, right-click it while it’s playing and select Loop. Even if you have Autoplay enabled, your video will replay itself as soon as it finishes.

Enable Dark Theme

YouTube recently introduced a black-and-red Dark Theme on the desktop, which is much easier on your eyes than the regular version of the site. Enable it by clicking the account symbol, selecting Dark Theme and turning Activate Dark Theme on.

Simplify YouTube

Another alternative YouTube user interface is available to access at It’s a really simple, no-frills UI that’s incredibly easy to navigate.

Try out new features

You can test upcoming and experimental features early by signing up to YouTube TestTube.


When you want to watch a YouTube video but don’t have your headphones and don’t want to disturb anyone around you, turn on Captions. They’re also really handy if you’re trying to watch a video in a foreign language. Transcriptions, meanwhile, break down exactly when certain things take place, so you can skip to the part you want to watch accurately and easily. In the More tab under the video title, launch the dropdown menu and select Transcript.

Use shortcuts

You can lean back in your seat and control YouTube videos with your keyboard if you want to. J and L let you rewind and fast-forward 10 seconds, K is pause/play, M is mute/unmute and the 0-9 keys let you jump through various stages of the video, from 0 per cent to 90 per cent. On the app, you can fast forward or rewind 10 seconds by double-tapping the right or left side of a video.

Limit data use

If you’re on a limited mobile data plan, there are easy ways to save yourself some money. In Settings on the YouTube app, hit General and enable Limit Mobile Data Usage and disable Autoplay.

Keep things private

Unless you make them private, other people can see your Liked videos, your saved playlists and subscriptions. If you want to hide them, go to Settings and Privacy. You can also clear or pause your History. On either desktop or the mobile app, go to History and select Clear All Watch History or Pause Watch History.

Make sharing clearer

Sometimes you want to share a video with a friend, but want them to watch a specific part, rather than the whole thing. Instead of sending the timestamp through as a separate message, make the video automatically play from the right place. Just pause it at the right moment, click the Share button, tick the Start At box and copy the URL.

Get nerdy

Stats for Nerds shows you technical data for YouTube videos, including video format, audio format and bandwidth. On desktop, you can find the info simply by right-clicking the video player and selecting Stats for Nerds.
On mobile, you have to enable it first in General Settings. Once that’s done, open a video, hit the menu button in the top-right corner and tap the Stats for Nerds option.

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