How to only watch the best bits and other tricks to upgrade your YouTube experience

Let's watch some videos.
Optimize your YouTube viewing. Christian Wiediger / Unsplash

Whether you’re occasionally dipping into the world of YouTube or enjoying several hours of viewing time in it every day, knowing how to find your way around videos can be helpful. The quicker you can navigate around videos, the more videos you can watch—or the more time you’ll have to spend on something that isn’t YouTube.

The Google-owned video platform has added quite a few tricks you can use that go beyond simply clicking play, sitting back, and watching content unfold before your eyes. And there are different tricks you can use depending on what device you’re watching on.

Jump to the best bits

You probably know that you can click and drag (or if you’re on your mobile device, tap and drag) on the timeline underneath a video to navigate around it. But YouTube has added a ‘most replayed’ graph right above it, enabling you to see the moments of a video users keep going back to. Those are usually  peaks that will usually point you towards the best bits of a clip, so if you’re looking for something specific that should save you some searching time. At the time of writing, this feature is still rolling out, so you might not be able to see it just yet, but it should soon be available to all YouTube users.

[Related: The best tips and tricks for YouTube Music]

Navigate with transcripts

Many videos on YouTube come with transcripts, either because the creator added them or because YouTube auto-generated then from the audio. On desktop, you can find them by clicking the three dots underneath the video, then Show transcript; on mobile, tap the video description and then Show transcript. You’ll see a list of timestamps with the written transcript, and you can click or tap on any of them to jump to that specific point.

Change the playback speed

This is an older and more well-known feature, but you might not have come across it before: If you click the cog icon underneath a video (in a browser) or tap the cog icon on the video control overlay (in a mobile app), you’ll find a Playback speed setting. You can adjust this to watch your favorite youtubers up to twice as fast, and it’s a useful way of quickly getting through a video—as long as you can keep up with what’s happening and being said.

Skip ahead (or jump backward)

If you want to quickly move through a YouTube video on a mobile device, you can double-tap on the right side of the video to jump forward 10 seconds, or double-tap on the left side of the video to jump backward 10 seconds. You can adjust the jump duration as well, up to 60 seconds, if you need to: From the front screen of the YouTube app, tap on your profile picture (top right), then choose Settings, General, and Double-tap to seek.

Put a video on loop

Whether it’s a chill out playlist that you want to hear again, or a tutorial for a task you’re trying to get the hang of, it can be helpful to have videos play on repeat rather than ending as normal. To do this in a web browser, right-click on a video as it’s playing and choose Loop from the menu that appears. If you’re on a mobile device in the YouTube app, tap the cog icon in the top right corner of the playback window, then choose Loop video.

Skip through chapters

Many longer YouTube videos come with chapter markers attached, splitting up the footage into distinct sections. These chapter markers come conveniently listed underneath the video in the description, but there is a quick way to jump forward and backward through them in the YouTube app for mobile devices: Double-tap with two fingers on the video as it plays to navigate, using the left side to go backwards and the right side to go forwards.

[Related: Why you might want to sign up for YouTube Premium]

Save particular points in videos

You’ll sometimes only be interested in a part of a video, and to save you having to find your way back to a particular section every time you go back to the clip, you can access a YouTube URL including a timestamp in your desktop browser. Find the relevant point in your video, then right-click on it and choose Copy video URL at current time—you can then save this URL in a document, put it in an email, bookmark it, or whatever you want.