Watching YouTube Videos

You can watch YouTube videos whether or not you're a registered user. All you need is a web browser with the free Adobe Flash Player plug-in. (Apple famously doesn't support Flash on its iPhones, but these devices can display YouTube videos. In 2007, YouTube began “transcoding” its Flash videos to Apple's preferred video format, H.264.)

The browser can be on your desktop computer, your laptop, your tablet PC, or, depending on your carrier and the model, your smart phone. Just point your browser to the YouTube site, click on a thumbnail image of the video that interests you, and it plays automatically. (You'll also need some speakers if you want to hear the audio, but most of these devices have them built in.)

The site's newly designed video page displays the video in the main window, with little thumbnail graphics and links to related or similar clips in a column on the right. You'll find a description of the video, including tags, ratings from other viewers, options for sharing the video, traffic statistics, comments and responses about the video, among other features. There's also an ad window that cycles paid advertising on the right.

Finding Videos

You can find videos on YouTube by clicking on the Browse link at the top of the main page. From here, you can search for videos in a couple of ways. You can type a keyword into the Search box. You can click on a category in the list in the navigation column on the left. Or you can click on one of the thumbnail graphics for the Spotlight videos currently featured. Once you've called up a video, you'll still have access to the Search box, and you can click on any of the thumbnails that come up beside the main display window. The Search box is available on nearly every page on the YouTube site.

You can also take advantage of additional search capabilities by clicking “Search Options” in the upper left of search results pages. This gives you access to a number of search filters, which allow you to narrow your search in several ways. For example, limit your keyword search results based on result type, upload date, view count, categories, and the length of the video.

If you find a video that you like and you want to keep up with that channel, you can subscribe to it. Just click on “Subscribe” when you're watching a clip, and the latest videos from that channel will be posted directly to your home page from now on. You have to be a registered user to get this feature.

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