5 Fun and Useful YouTube Tricks

There are many other video sharing services out there, like Vimeo and Metacafe, but it’s undeniable that YouTube continues to reign as the king of online video. Regular folks upload their videos to share with friends and family, just as big brands leverage YouTube to spread their marketing messages. While you could use YouTube on the simplest of levels, there are so many other functions and features that can expand on that experience.

And so, just as I have shared handy tips on how to use Google better and how to get the most out of Gmail, I am now sharing some fun tricks that you can use with YouTube too.

1. Rip the Audio to an MP3 Download

Let me preface this by saying that I don’t necessarily condone the illegal downloading of copyright material and you should always act at your own risk and discretion. That being said, it can be pretty useful if you want to grab the audio component from a YouTube video. The site that I use for this purpose is snipmp3.com. All you do is copy and paste the YouTube URL into the provided field and hit the “Convert” button. Let the Java plug-in do its thing and you’ll be presented with a “Download MP3” link. It couldn’t be simpler.

2. Convert Almost Any Video Format

When I was reviewing the PAPAGO! P3 dashcam last month, I ran into a small snag. Unlike regular camcorders that might produce a more typical file format like MP4, the dashcam footage was being saved in .TS format. That’s the same file format that you find when you try to rip a video DVD. The problem is that many video editing suites won’t accept TS files natively.

I tried hunting down some free video conversion software for the task and largely came up empty-handed. Then, I was offered a simple recommendation. The great thing about YouTube is that you can upload almost any video format and it’ll be able to convert it for online streaming. If you set your upload to private, you can let the YouTube hamster run on its wheel for you. After the upload is complete, you can go into your video details and click on the link to download the resulting MP4 file. You may lose some quality due to compression, but this is one of the easier (and free) ways to do it.

3. Play the Same Video in an Endless Loop

Most media players, both in terms of software and hardware, typically give you the option to repeat the same song over and over again if you want. You can effectively do the same thing in YouTube via an easy third-party solution. It’s called YouTube Repeater and all you have to do is change “youtube.com” in the video URL to “youtuberepeater.com” instead.

For example, my Vancouver Vaisakhi video can be found at:


It’ll repeat on an endless loop if you change that to:


4. Start a Clip at a Specific Time

What if you want to share a video, either with a friend or through social media, but you want that video to start at a certain time? This is particularly handy if you have a much longer video and there is only a small segment that you want to highlight.

You can access this feature via the “share” tab below the video title, clicking on the “start at” tickbox to enter your chosen time. Alternatively, you can add the time to the end of the URL. Using the same Vaisakhi video as an example, if we wanted to jump ahead to 2:07 in that video, the URL would become:


All I did was add “t=2m7s” to the end of the URL. You can see how this is easily adapted to whatever start time that you need.

5. Customize Your Experience with Options

I was lucky enough to get YouTube Options when it was still free, but you can still pick it up (they’ve since renamed simply to Options) for a $1.99 monthly subscription. This Chrome extension gives you much more control over how you watch your YouTube videos. The little icon in the address bar lets you quickly change the size of the video, adjust the filtering, and enable/disable the loop feature.

Digging into the more advanced features, you can automatically hide in-video ads, annotations and closed captions. You can also change the auto-play functionality, enable keyboard controls, alter how suggested videos open, hide branding, automatically display “more” YouTube description, dim the background page… the list goes on and on. It’s very robust.

Watch It Later

This isn’t so much a YouTube “trick” as much as it is just a handy feature you might want to use. We all come across videos that we want to watch, but we don’t always have the time right this moment to watch them. That’s where the “Watch Later” playlist comes into play. Just hit the little round icon (it looks sort of like a clock face, but not really) in the lower-right corner of a video and it’ll be added to your personal playlist. This way, you can binge watch those saved clips later when you have time to indulge.

What are some of your favorite YouTube tips and tricks?