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Getting to Know the New YouTube Interface

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YouTube has changed its viewer interface, and there are all sorts of new features you may not yet know about. In this article, author Michael Miller takes you on a tour of the new YouTube and shows you where all the good stuff is hiding.
From the author of

From the author of

Everything changes. That is especially true of websites, and even more so for the most popular ones. It should come as no surprise, then, that YouTube recently revamped its entire user interface, presumably in an effort to enhance your viewing experience. (They may also have wanted to push more profitable content in front of their users; that seems to be a given, these days.)

So there’s a new YouTube in town, and you need to get to know it. Read on to find out what’s what and where and why.

YouTube’s Home Page

The new YouTube starts with the site’s home page. The first time you log into the new YouTube, you’re prompted to “add some channels.” This is because YouTube is now more channel-oriented than ever, and wants to feed you new videos from your favorite YouTubers the moment you log in.

Go ahead and click that Get Started button, then, and you’ll see a whole bunch of categories that YouTube thinks might interest you. Click those you like, if there are any, then click the Next button. YouTube now recommends popular channels within your selected categories; check those you want to subscribe to, and uncheck those you don’t.

You’re now returned to YouTube’s home page, customized for your selection of channels. The center of the page displays videos recommended for you, based on your past viewing habits. The right side of the page contains more recommended channels; you can subscribe to any of them by clicking the Subscribe button. And the left side of the page is a navigational sidebar.

Figure 1 YouTube’s default home page view—the What to Watch tab.

The choices you make in the navigational sidebar affect what you see in the middle of the home page. By default, What to Watch is selected in the sidebar; this is what displays those recommended videos. You can choose instead to display any of the following:

  • Your Name displays your recent YouTube activity—videos you’ve uploaded, liked, commented on, added to your Favorites list, and so forth.
  • Watch Later displays videos you’ve added to your Watch Later list for future viewing.
  • Watch History displays all the videos you’ve watched, in reverse chronological order—that is, the most recent at the top.
  • Playlists displays all the playlists you’ve created. Click any playlist to view the videos in that playlist. (You can also play all the videos in a playlist, one at a time, by mousing over the playlist thumbnail and clicking Play All.)
  • Messages displays any messages you’ve received from other YouTube members. Click any message to view and respond to it.
  • My Subscriptions displays new videos from those channels you’ve subscribed to. To unsubscribe to any given channel, click Manage Subscriptions at the top of this page.
  • Social displays videos your friends have +1’d or shared on Google+ or Facebook. To connect or disconnect social networks to your YouTube account, click Manage at the top of this page.

Figure 2 Viewing videos shared by your friends across social media.

In addition, you can view videos in any subscribed-to channel by clicking that channel in the navigational pane. You can also browse all available channels by clicking Browse Channels. (Of course, you can still search for specific videos by using the top-of-page search box.)

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