In this article (and video) we’re going to take a look at 13 fresh YouTube tricks, tips and hacks that you might not know about.
These tips are fun and useful for both creators and viewers, and I use many of them myself all the time.
#1 YouTube Easter Eggs
Google has a habit of including fun Easter Eggs in many of their products, including YouTube. You’ve probably seen most of these before in other videos.
But one that I have not seen mentioned a lot is the flashing progress bar on the YouTube player.
Basically how you get it, is by clicking on the full screen icon for a video. Then type in the word ‘Awesome’ on your keyboard and the progress bar should start flashing. Type ‘Awesome’ again to make it stop flashing.
#2 Emoji Video Titles
For a long time, you have been able to use different symbols and even change the font type of your YouTube video titles.
But now you can actually use graphical emoticons in YouTube video titles. All you have to do is copy and paste.
If you’re a YouTube creator, this might be useful for you. Because getting views on YouTube is all about standing out and being noticed. And the main ways to do that, is by creating clickworthy titles and thumbnails. In addition to content that people want to watch.
Using graphical emoticons could definitely make your title stand out a bit more. If you do it in the right way.
#3 Change Your Custom URL
YouTube Custom URL eligibility requirements:
– Over 100 subscribers
– Account older than 30 days
– Profile picture
– Channel art
It used to be the case that if you chose a custom URL, you were basically stuck with that one for forever. Even if you rebrand or rename your channel. This myth is still being perpetuated. But the fact is that it is indeed possible to change it, even several times.
Step 1: To change your custom URL, first go to the YouTube Creator Studio and click on your profile picture. Go to the place where you can change the profile picture for your account.
Step 2: Instead of changing the picture, click on the edit icon on the right to change your channel name.
Step 3: Once you’ve changed the name of your channel, click on the edit icon for the Sites section and release your old custom URL.
Step 4: Now you can go to youtube.com/account_advanced. You may have to refresh the page once or twice for the changes to pop up. But eventually it should say that you are eligible for a new custom URL. Click on that, and a menu with some options will pop up.
Step 5: Select the custom URL that you want from these options, accept the terms, click on Change URL and finally confirm your choice.
That’s it, you now have a new custom URL. Be sure to not abuse this feature! Only change your custom URL if you actually change the name of your channel.
#4 Unblock and Download
Some videos, music videos in particular, can be regionally blocked by YouTube. This is due to requests from record labels or other companies. However, there are ways around this. For example, you can use proxies or VPN services. But there’s an even easier way that doesn’t require you to pay anything to unblock these videos.
When you’re browsing YouTube and encounter a blocked video, just go to your address bar. Replace the ‘you’ in ‘youtube.com’ with ‘hook’ as in ‘hooktube.com’. HookTube will allow you to watch regionally blocked videos. It also has features allowing you to download any videos from YouTube in many different formats and resolutions.
HookTube also removes advertisements and you can even see the comments posted on the YouTube videos as well.
Another site that does the same thing is youpak.com. So in that one you replace the word ‘tube’ with ‘pak’ and you’re good to go.
#5 Creator Insider Channel
Creator Insider is a channel that every YouTube content producer should be subscribed to. It’s an informal channel run by YouTube staff where they share information about what’s going on with YouTube. They post some useful videos on various developments and updates to the YouTube platform.
For example they did a pretty decent job clarifying some of the details regarding the changes to the YouTube partner program after the so called AdPocalypse.
Additionally you can comment on the videos, share your thoughts on the updates and provide feedback to YouTube that way. It actually seems like they listen sometimes.
I mean, I posted a request to add the heart option to the Creator Studio comment manager, and a few weeks later it was there. Not 100% sure if I had anything to do with that, but it does give me hope.
SocialBlade.com is a website where you can see publically available statistics on YouTube channels. These include subscriber and view counts, estimated revenue, rankings and also charts on view and subscriber growth.
But SocialBlade has some other cool features as well that might be fun and useful for you guys. For example it has a real time live subscriber counter that updates every second. And you can get one for your own channel as well.
Then there’s the top lists for YouTube channels. These enable you to see which channels are the most popular in a few different countries and categories as well as the overall most popular channels on YouTube.
You can also see which channels are growing the fastest. SocialBlade will show you which YouTubers gained the most subscribers and views in the last 30 days or the last 24 hours. This might help you to find some new and interesting YouTube channels to watch or draw inspiration from.
#7 Auto-Complete and Google Keyword Planner
Sometimes as a YouTube creator you might feel a bit uninspired and struggling to come up with new ideas for videos.
One thing you can try out, is the YouTube and Google search auto-complete feature. Most of us have probably used this feature already. But basically you type in a word or a sentence, and YouTube or Google auto-completes that sentence and makes a few suggestions.
These suggestions are based on what people are actually searching for. This might help you think of some new ideas for fresh content that people are actually interested in.
It also helps in identifying keywords and phrases that you can use in your videos. When considering search engine optimization (SEO) this might be helpful. SEO includes not only in the title, description and tags, but also in your actual video where you speak. Because YouTube automatically transcribes audio to text in all uploaded videos.
Speaking about keywords, another useful tool for finding keywords would be the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. You can basically type in a keyword and get a huge list of related keywords including some statistics on how often they are searched for.
#8 vidIQ Chrome Extension
vidIQ is a very useful Google Chrome extension that allows you to see a number of statistics related to not just YouTube videos but also channels, search results and more.
For videos you can see interesting stats such as the like to dislike ratio, total YouTube engagements, how many upvotes and likes the video has on other social media platforms. Then there’s also SEO stats and channel stats below that.
You can also see what tags the video as well as the channel has, if any at all. One thing that I found particularly interesting is the statistics for search terms. This might help you out if you’re a YouTube creator and you’re looking for new video ideas.
You do have to sign up for a free account with vidIQ to use the extension. It’s also possible to upgrade to a paid account and get even more statistics and features.
#9 Watch Random YouTube Videos
If you find yourself being a bit bored or want to find some new content beyond what the recommended section feeds you, then you might want to check out Stumbl.tv. It’s basically a website where you can watch random YouTube videos.
You can add filters as to which type of videos are displayed. By adjusting the view count, you will be shown videos that have between for example 1000 and 1 million views which are up to 240 seconds long. Then you can also filter by keywords and category.
One downside with Stumbl is that the maximum length of videos displayed is only 240 seconds or around 4 minutes.
Stumbl.tv also has hotkeys, for example by pressing Enter it will skip to the next video.
Another website to watch random YouTube videos is randomyoutube.net/watch.
#10 YouTube Maps
Another way to kill time and view content on YouTube that you may not have heard of, is maps. The Social Map Explorer website displays YouTube videos based on what videos are currently being shared in a specific location. So you can click around the world and see what videos people are watching.
Then there’s a second YouTube map by a website called ThePudding which displays the number #1 songs in over 3000 different locations; regions and cities. It’s interesting to see what type of music they listen to in other countries.
If you’re still bored and looking for longer form content, there are plenty of free documentaries hosted on YouTube. But finding good ones can sometimes be a bit tricky.
DocumentaryHeaven.com has at least partially solved this problem by cataloguing hundreds of documentaries posted on YouTube. They are listed by category on the sidebar and also by popularity on the front page and the Top 100 documentaries page. If you scroll down on the front page, you will also see what documentaries are currently being watched by users on the website.
Every documentary also has a short synopsis written, so you can read it and not waste your time on documentaries that you definitely would not be interested in.
#12 Thumbnail Previews
If you hover over YouTube video thumbnails, usually nothing will happen. But recently YouTube introduced thumbnail previews. So now if you hover over them a small clip of the video will be played. However at the moment, this only seems to work on the Chrome web browser.
The funny part about this is that YouTube or other normal video hosting websites didn’t figure it out first. It was actually the adult websites such as PornHub and YouPorn which were the first ones to have thumbnail previews.
Right now the thumbnail previews display a short clip from the beginning of the video. But if they are going the way of the adult websites, they’ll be displaying short clips from different parts of the video. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects peoples viewing habits. Something to keep in mind.
#13 Keyboard Shortcuts
Most people use their mouse cursor to control the YouTube player. But it is also possible to use keyboard shortcuts.
Here’s a few hotkeys that I personally find useful.
Pressing the space bar will make the video pause and play. The left and right arrow keys will move the video backward or forward in 5 second increments respectively.
Pushing the Home key will take you to the beginning of the video and the End key will play the next video if your autoplay is on. Then you can also press the M key to mute and unmute the video, as well as the up and down arrow keys to adjust the volume.
If you want to fully control the entire YouTube interface through your keyboard, then visit youtube.com/tv and you’ll get a more Netflix like interface for YouTube.
Full List of YouTube Player Keyboard Shortcuts