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How To Video
Become a YouTube expertJosh Lowensohn offers some tips to help customize your YouTube viewing experience and become a power user.
What could be easier than watching videos on YouTube? There are, however, a few tips and tricks that can help you make the most of your video watching experience. I'm Josh Lowensohn from CNET's Webware, and I'm going to show you a few of my favorites: Let's start off with tips that enhance the way you watch videos. Videos on YouTube can have both a regular and a high quality stream. Even if you're on a fast connection YouTube will default to the regular quality. To get it to always play the high quality version, head into your account settings, then playback setup, then choose the "I have a fast connection, always play higher-quality video when it's available" option. Now, whenever there's a high quality stream, it will play without you having to click on that high quality button. Just make sure you're on a fast connection--this won't work if you're on dial-up. Tired of all the stuff around YouTube's player? Check out Theeter, a free services that let you see just the player. Just copy and paste any YouTube URL into Theeter, and it will create a shortened link that you can send to friends or post to services like Twitter. It also lets you pick the point where you want the video to start. If you want to skip having to copy and paste, the service also has a bookmarklet you can drag up to your browser's bookmarks bar. Now, any time you want to see the watch the video back in Theeter, you just click on that bookmarklet. Another way to edit the time when a clip starts is to add a small bit of code the end of the URL. This lets you pick exactly when a video should start, right down the the number of minutes and seconds, which can be helpful when sending links to long videos to your friends when you only want them to watch a certain part. To do this, just drop in #t=_m_s at the end of the video's URL, filling in the minutes and seconds for when you want it to start in place of the underscores. YouTube is also set up to turn any user comments that mention a specific time, into a link that takes you right to that point in the clip. So, if you see a blue link in any of the video's comments, clicking on it will fast forward you to whatever part they're talking about. If you're interested in making and embedding a playlist that will play several videos in a row here's a tip to help you out. Go into your account settings and create a new playlist. Give it a name and YouTube will take you to a screen where you can give it a description, a category, and any tags. Most importantly though, it gives you that embed code. If you're not planning to embed it right away, go ahead and save this code somewhere, since it's a pain to get to it later. Add your videos to the playlist and hit the save button. Now that you've saved it you can put that embed code anywhere and the videos will play one right after another. If you need to find that embed code again here's a trick to get to it: Open up your playlist page at youtube.com/my_playlists. Then click on the "play all" link on a playlist to start it up. Under the playlist option on the right, click on the link with the name of the playlist you're watching. This will take you to a page that shows you every video in the playlist, a link to send it to a friend, and that hard-to-find embed code. One final way to tweak the way your video plays back is with tags. YouTube has a few special tags you can add to any of your videos that will affect the way other people see them. Three in particular change the way a video looks in the player after you've uploaded it: Adding "yt:crop=16:9" zooms in on the 16:9 widescreen section of the video, and gets rid of any black bars on the side or on the top of your video. Adding "yt:stretch=16:9" takes any content that's been shot in anamorphic--with the black bars on the top and bottom--and scales it to fit the widescreen player. And finally addiing "yt:stretch=4:3" scales widescreen videos to fit a 4:3 player. Just note that some of these options can actually get rid of what you're able to see in your videos, so be sure to preview them right after you've added the tags and hit save. These are just a few tips at making YouTube work for you. To see more, you can read our entire expert's guide over at CNET's Webware blog. I'm Josh Lowensohn and happy watching.