Demystifying YouTube

YouTube is one of the biggest community websites on the internet today, and it has something for everyone. Many less ‘tech-savvy’ users can be turned off by the initial confusion of YouTube’s layout. Follow Rachel’s simple YouTube survival guide and start to understand what all the fuss is about.

Rule #1: Don’t panic
When you first visit the amount of information on your screen can be overwhelming. You will be offered videos which are popular with other people, videos which have just been uploaded to YouTube and even videos which match some of the words you looked up last time you were on the site. Don’t panic. You have come this far – just relax and enjoy.

Rule #2: Have a purpose
The first 30 seconds are key to surviving your first YouTube foray. Do you know what you’re looking for?  Is it to find a particular video someone has told you about? Perhaps you want to watch Leonard Cohen perform Suzanne on the Isle of Wight in 1970, or learn how to make a rainbow cupcake, or maybe you really are just browsing.

Rule #3: Show no fear
Whatever your purpose, you are the one in charge of what you view. If you are browsing around for some entertainment, then the plethora of videos YouTube throws up on the main page can be lots of fun. If, however, you are more focused in your viewing then they can make the site feel confusing. Try this handy quick-start guide to help you take back control of your YouTube experience.

How to YouTube for Browsers
Go to

If you are just taking a look around, try clicking on one of the videos offered up on the first page. If you don’t see anything you like, you can browse more specifically.

Click the ‘Browse’ button

You can then click the ‘Categories’ button to view the most popular videos in a category which interests you.

The videos will be sorted into ‘Popular around the web’, which means the videos are being shown on other websites, as well as YouTube, and ‘Most Viewed Today’. Click on the thumbnail of any video to watch it.

How to YouTube for Searchers
If you are looking for something more specific, you can search for it. Ignore all the videos on the first page, and look for the search bar.

Try typing in some words that relate to what you are looking for here. We tried ‘pet hedgehog’ and these were some of the results we got:

As you can see the top three results are about pet hedgehogs, but the videos are quite old – two years is a very long time on the internet. You can change how your search results are organised using the filter button. Click ‘Filter’, then choose whether you want your videos shown by:

  • Relevance
    organised by how many times your specific search words appear in the video description
  • Upload Date
    newest results are shown first
  • View Count
    videos that have been watched the greatest number of times are shown first
  • Rating
    based on how many stars viewers have given the video

I chose to filter my original search results by ‘Upload Date’, which has given me the two most recent videos relating to pet hedgehogs.

Whether you are bored and browsing, or focused in your search, YouTube can be both fun and easy to use for everyone. Try talking to your friends and family about it – you will be amazed by how many people have a favourite video that they just have to show you. Speaking of favourite videos, here’s mine.