Social Media YouTube

How YouTube works


Would you like to understand how to best use the potential of YouTube ? Are you thinking of opening your own channel, uploading your creations and maybe making some money? Would you like to access YouTube from your mobile devices, wherever you are, but don’t know how? Don’t worry, you are about to find all the answers you are looking for. In fact, with today’s guide, I will show you how YouTube works and I will explain how to best use the famous video portal owned by Google.

YouTube not only allows you to watch all kinds of videos, including films , live sporting events, series designed for the Web and much more, but it also allows you to show the world your skills: are you a singer? An amateur director? A novice comedian or simply a private citizen with something to say? On the Google platform you can upload your videos, create an audience and, over time, even make a job out of it.

For the moment, however, let’s keep our feet on the ground and go step by step. Start by making yourself comfortable and carefully reading the next paragraphs, in which you will find instructions on how to best use YouTube, how to open a channel and upload videos. Are you ready to get started? Well, all I can do is wish you happy reading and, above all, have fun!


How to use YouTube

Since YouTube is a very complex platform, let’s see all the functions in detail to understand exactly everything that can be done.

How to watch videos on YouTube


YouTube is Google’s video sharing and viewing platform that collects billions of videos of all kinds, uploaded by users from all over the world. You can watch videos on YouTube for free, without limitations and without registration.

To start watching videos on YouTube, connect to the latter’s main page , where you can find an overview of the most viewed videos collected under the Explore heading , a series of recommended channels and some categories ( Music , Sports , Games , Films , News , Live etc.) which collect the best videos by genre, also visible in the menu on the left, under the heading The best of YouTube .

To watch a video, click on the title of one of the videos on the main page or search for a video using the search bar at the top. To use the search function, type what you want to watch in the Search field and press the magnifying glass icon to start the search, then locate the video you prefer among the proposed results and press its title to start playing it. To learn more about the topic you can read my guide on how to search on YouTube .

Now, you can control the player using common commands: press the Pause button to stop playing the video and the Play button to resume it; you can start playing the next video by pressing the Next button (identified by a triangle and a line ); press the Volume button to deactivate the video volume or move the cursor to the left or right to decrease or increase it; at the bottom right of the player, you can press the gear wheel to access the Settings and choose the Video Speed ​​( 0.25 , 0.5 , 0.75 , Normal , 1.25 , 1.5 , 2 ), the Quality ( 240p , 480p , 720p HD , 1080p HD etc., up to 4K resolution) and whether or not to activate Autoplay ; you can increase the size of the player in Cinema Mode by pressing the square icon or in Full Screen mode by clicking on the open square icon and you can activate, if provided, the Subtitles function by pressing on the keyboard icon .

The YouTube player can also be operated via keyboard. For example, by pressing the space bar you can pause or resume playback, by pressing the left and right directional arrows you can go forward or backward 5 seconds, while by pressing the up and down directional arrows you can increase and decrease the volume.


Below the player, you can view all the information about the video being played, such as the title , views , the name of the channel it is uploaded to, the description and the publication date . If you liked the video, you can share it on social networks by pressing the Share item which also allows you to copy the URL address or embed code of the video by clicking on the Copy or Embed items . Furthermore, there is also the Download button , which allows you to download the video if you have a YouTube Premium plan (I’ll tell you more about it later) and are using an enabled device (smartphone, tablet or a supported PC browser) .

After logging in to YouTube, as I will show you in the next paragraphs, you can access numerous other functions reserved for registered users.

  • Like or Dislike : using the Like ( thumbs up ) and Dislike ( thumbs down ) buttons you can give a positive or negative rating to the video.
  • Playlist : with the Add to button , identified by three horizontal lines and a + , you can add the video to a playlist.
  • Channel subscription : by pressing the red Subscribe button you can keep track of the channel’s activities, with the possibility of receiving notifications for each new video uploaded.
  • Comments : registered users also have the opportunity to leave a comment on the video by typing text in the Add a public comment field . If the words Comments are disabled for this video are present in the comments space , it means that the channel does not allow comments.

Furthermore, on the right side you can view a list of related videos and you can move the lever from OFF to ON next to the Autoplay item to activate automatic switching to the next video, once the current video has finished playing.

YouTube is also available for mobile devices via the app for Android and iOS/iPadOS devices . Its operation is similar to that described for computers.

To watch a video, press the magnifying glass icon at the top right and in the Search YouTube field type the video you want to search for, then tap on the preview image of the video you want to play. Again, to be able to leave comments, subscribe to a channel or like videos you need to log in with your Google account . Press the icon at the top right, press the Login button , tap on your Google account and you’re done. Through the menu at the bottom, you can access the various sections of the YouTube app, with the same uses already seen for PC.

How to log in and open a channel on YouTube

google login

To take advantage of numerous features such as the ability to comment, create playlists, subscribe to channels, but also upload videos and manage a channel, you need to log in to YouTube and all you need is a Google account.

To access YouTube, connect to the main page of the Google platform and press the Login button at the top right. On the Choose an account screen , click on the Google account you want to use to log in to YouTube, enter the Password , press the Next button and you’re done.

If you don’t have a YouTube account yet, on the Choose an account screen , press on Create an account . Now enter the various data requested and, after a quick procedure, your account will be ready. You can get more detailed information by reading my guide on how to create a Google account .

Now you’re ready to create your YouTube channel! On the home page of the site, tap on your photo at the top right (or on the circle with the outline of a little man if you have not customized your account) and press on the item Your channel . If you want to create a channel with your name and surname, check that the data in the Name and Surname fields are correct and press the Create channel button , otherwise click on the Use a company or other name option , enter the name of the channel in the Brand account name field and presses the Create button .

Once you have created your channel, you can proceed with customizing it. In the menu on the left, press the Your channel item to access the main page of your YouTube channel, then press the Customize channel button to access the editing section and choose one of the available items. YouTube allows you to add a featured video, a trailer, specific sections or even simple basic information that will help your viewers get to know you.

How to upload a video to YouTube

uploading youtube videos

On YouTube you can also upload your own videos to show off your qualities or to share some personal footage with friends and acquaintances. Uploading a video to YouTube is a simple procedure that takes a few moments, but the video loading speed depends on several factors such as the length, the quality of the video and the Internet connection available.

To upload your videos, on the main YouTube page click on the camera-shaped button with the + symbol at the top then choose the Upload video item . At this point, press the Select file button , choose the movie on your computer that you intend to upload to YouTube and the upload will start automatically. Alternatively, you can click on the Import button on the right to upload a movie from your Google Photos account .

During uploading you can add information relating to the video by entering Title , Description and Tag , uploading a customized thumbnail that will appear as the video’s cover image and setting the privacy of the video by choosing one of the available options: Public to make the video visible to everyone ; Unlisted which allows the video to be viewed only by those who know the URL address; Private visible only to the owner and Scheduled to set a publish date. Furthermore, you can press on the Add to playlist item to insert the video into an existing playlist (or create one) in order to group it with those that deal with the same theme, choose whether it is intended for children or not and a whole series of options that will be shown in the Details , Video Items , Controls , and Visibility windows that appear during upload. You can learn more by reading my guide on how to upload videos to YouTube .

You should know that it is not possible to pause the loading of a video, but you can still interrupt it by closing the browser window (or tab) and resume it later, as long as you do not turn off the computer, repeating the procedure described above On the contrary. By doing so, you will resume uploading from the point of interruption, but you will lose all changes made such as the insertion of title, description, etc..

On YouTube it is not only possible to upload a movie from your computer, but you can also make a live video. Press the camera button with the + symbol that I told you about before and choose the Transmit live option to access the live dashboard. To start streaming on YouTube, you need to use an encoder, you can find all the details on Google’s YouTube help page .

The same indications also apply, with some slight differences, to the YouTube app for mobile devices, where additional functions are also available, such as Shorts .

How YouTube Studio works

youtube dashboard

On YouTube there is a section called YouTube Studio from whose Channel Dashboard page you can manage uploaded videos, further customize your channel, view its statistics and reputation. It also allows you to activate some features such as monetization, uploading videos longer than 15 minutes and requesting a custom URL for your channel.

To access it, all you have to do is click on your profile photo at the top right, then on the Your channel item , click on the Customize channel button and finally choose the Dashboard item from the left column. The main screen shows some statistics of your channel such as total views, channel subscribers and some data for the last 28 days. Additionally, you can view the latest videos uploaded and comments received. From YouTube Studio you can also access a number of options that are listed on the left.

  • Contents — simply shows all the contents you have published up to that point on your channel, so you can always have the situation under control.
  • Playlists — the playlists you have created and which will, if necessary, include a specific portion of your videos, in order to bring order for viewers.
  • Analytics — the section for keeping track of channel statistics, in which it is possible to view the most viewed videos and those that monetize the most, but also information on the audience viewing the videos, to discover the viewing location, gender, sources of traffic and the main geographical regions. In this regard, you can read my guide on how to increase views on YouTube .
  • Comments — a place where you can keep track of all the comments your videos have received, making it easy to respond to your fans.
  • Subtitles — the subtitles that you will (if you deem necessary) upload for your videos, useful for taking stock of the situation for the various videos.
  • Copyright — if your videos violate copyright and you receive a request for modification or removal, you will receive notifications here.
  • Monetization — the part linked to the income of the channel, which remains deactivated until the minimum threshold to start earning is reached.
  • Customization — the section where you can add trailers, featured footage and other options that help present your channel at its best.
  • Audio Library — a collection of royalty-free songs that you can use to insert into your videos, without incurring copyright infringement.

In addition to viewing the list of uploaded videos, in the Contents section you can access the movie editing area. Press the pencil button relating to the video you want to edit, after which you can change the title, add new tags, change the video description, thumbnail and privacy status.

Through this section, it is also possible to apply changes directly to the video: press on the Editor item in the left column and choose one of the available functions such as Stabilize to eliminate vibrations from the video. You can also cut an already uploaded video : read my guide on how to cut a video from YouTube to learn more about the topic.

There is also an app available for YouTube Studio for Android and iOS/iPadOS devices from which you can manage your channel on the move. Once downloaded on your smartphone, you must access your profile but, if it is already active on your mobile phone, this step will probably be performed automatically.

Once inside you will find all the videos you have uploaded in the foreground , which you can easily edit by pressing the three dots located at the top right. From here select the Edit video item and decide whether to change the thumbnail via the pencil icon at the top, the description , the visibility , the audience (whether it is intended for children or not), the playlist as well as tags , category and all details that you set during upload.

Through the menu at the bottom, you have access to analytics , content , comments and playlists , therefore having the opportunity to do all the things already described in the previous paragraph. There really isn’t much else to say, YouTube Studio is useful for those who want to manage the channel on the move while giving up some functions of the web page.

How YouTube works to make money


If you want to make money with YouTube, get ready, because the road immediately starts with a steep climb and then becomes more accessible as you progress. First, to activate monetization, you need to apply directly to YouTube . As you can easily understand, if you don’t have some views and interesting content, it’s unlikely that you will be granted this path. To be a little more specific, for the YouTube partnership you will need 4,000 hours of viewing time, at least 1,000 channel subscribers, a linked AdSense account , compliance with community standards , monetization policies and living in a country where the YouTube program affiliation is active.

Once you have overcome this obstacle, however, you should know that the compensation you receive depends not on YouTube itself, but on the sponsors who appear in your videos. Depending on the topic you deal with, the commercial breaks will have a different value where the travel theme is the least paid and the one linked to finance pays the most (subject to contractual changes).

Whatever your sector, for every 1,000 views of advertisements you will receive a variable amount of a few euros, so here lies the second obstacle. With YouTube you can only monetize something if you get thousands of views and you can only survive if you get over hundreds of thousands .

This at least through the agreements with YouTube but nothing stops you from creating your own affiliate network, which could be more inclined to pay for an advertising break in your videos. Added to this is that you could be the one to insert the advertisement directly into the editing, taking 100% of the profit , through direct agreements with third-party companies. Or, again, you could affiliate with third-party networks , which perhaps have less stringent rules for membership than those of the YouTube partnership.

In short, once you have the numbers you will have many ways to monetize, which are not mutually exclusive but complement each other.

Alternatively, there are also subscriptions , which you can activate on your channel to allow followers to finance the project through a paid subscription. More info here .

For more details and other — I hope — interesting ideas, I leave you with my guide on how to make money with YouTube .

How YouTube Shorts works

youtube shorts

YouTube Shorts is a kind of social branch that YouTube has decided to take to enter the short video market, positioning itself together with Instagram and TikTok . It was originally a standalone app, but was later merged into YouTube. This function allows you to record videos ranging from 15 to 60 seconds , which will then be shared in a specific section.

To use it, go to the home page of your YouTube app, tap the + button in the middle of the screen and choose the Create a short item . From here you can record your content using the button located in the middle of the screen and share it in the section of the same name which can always be reached from the app by tapping on the Shorts icon located at the bottom. Here you can swipe down to see other people’s videos just like on Instagram and TikTok, with the ability to like , share or comment on clips.

youtube shorts

Do you prefer to enjoy Shorts on your PC ? Then open YouTube and then, from the left column, click on the Shorts item , using the mouse wheel to scroll up and down, the various buttons for like, comments and sharing just like in the mobile version and the possibility of subscribing to the channel via the Sign up button . However, it is not possible to create Shorts from PC (at least at the time of writing). For more details I leave you to my tutorial on YouTube Shorts .

How YouTube handle works


Starting from October 2022, YouTube has also launched handles , i.e. identifiers that allow YouTube users to be mentioned and to mention other users simply by typing @[username to mention] , a bit like what happens on Twitter and other social networks network. The mention made in this way is reported to the mentioned user and, if clicked, leads to the latter’s YouTube channel. Handles appear in comments and mentions, in the Shorts tab, and in YouTube search results. You can choose your own (which by default is the same as your channel’s custom URL) by going to . More info here .

How YouTube Music works

youtube music

YouTube Music is an online service, also available as an app for Android and iOS/iPadOS entirely focused on musical content. It is, therefore, a music streaming platform that combines the classic music catalog of platforms such as Spotify or Apple Music with the endless amount of videos available on YouTube.

Its basic operation is free but with advertising, the impossibility of downloading or listening in the background on mobile devices. The paid plan costs €9.90/month (with an initial 30-day free trial). For more details I leave you with my guide on how YouTube Music works .

How YouTube Premium works

youtube premium

YouTube Premium , as you might expect from the name, is a paid version of YouTube, which provides some very useful additional services. Which? First of all, by subscribing to this subscription (from €11.99/month) all advertisements will be removed and you will be able to watch the videos without interruptions (unless they are inserted by the video creators).

Plus, you can download videos to watch offline, so you can enjoy them even when you’re without Internet (on supported devices). As a last option you are also given a free Premium subscription to YouTube Music . If you want more information and want to find out how to get YouTube Premium for free , read my dedicated guide.

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