Watching YouTube Videos

Watching YouTube videos is as simple as visiting the site. But you can create a free account too to do more with YouTube.

Watching YouTube videos

Now that you know the basics, you're ready to dive in and start watching YouTube videos. For example, you can just click the YouTube video below to play it:

As you (hopefully) just saw, watching YouTube videos is pretty simple. Whenever you're watching a video, you'll find some controls at the bottom of the video player (and if you don't see them, just hover your mouse over the video). These allow you to adjust the volume, make the video full-screen, turn on captions, and more.

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about the different controls in the YouTube video player. When you're done, try using these controls with the video above.

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Play/Pause

Click here to pause the video. Click again to start playing the video.

You can also click anywhere on the video or press the spacebar on your keyboard to play/pause.

Full Screen

If you want the video to fill your entire screen, click the Full Screen button. Click it again to return the video to its original size. Alternatively, you can press the Esc key on your keyboard.

Video Quality and Annotation Controls

Click here to adjust the quality of the video. For example, many videos are available in HD (720p or 1080p). Note that you will need a fast and reliable Internet connection to view videos at this quality rate. If you're having a hard time getting a video to play, you can try choosing a lower quality setting.

You'll also have the option to turn off annotations, which can sometimes be used to display annoying advertisements and messages. We'll talk more about annotations below.

Captions and Subtitles

Click here to turn on captioning or subtitles for the video (if available). This is a great option if you aren't able to hear the video, or if you're watching a video in a different language.

Watch Later

Click here to add this video to your Watch Later playlist. This is an easy way to save a video so you can find it again later.

Audio Controls

Click here to adjust the sound for the video. You can click and drag the slider to turn the sound up or down, or click Mute to turn the sound off.

If you can't hear a video, make sure to check these settings and ensure that the sound is turned up.

Video Scrubber

The video scrubber shows your progress through the video. You can also click and drag the scrubber to quickly jump to a different part of a video.

Understanding embedded videos

There are two basic ways to view a YouTube video: directly on the YouTube website or as an embedded video on another site. The video above is hosted (or stored) by YouTube, but it's been embedded on our website. This means you can view it here without navigating to YouTube. If you prefer, however, you can click the small YouTube button near the bottom-right corner of the video player to watch the video directly on the YouTube website.

Advertisements and annotations

YouTube videos are free to watch, but many now include some form of third-party advertisements, much like commercials on TV. Ads may appear before a video begins, although most can be skipped after a few seconds. Unfortunately, there is no way to opt out of these ads—it's just something you'll have to deal with if you use YouTube.

screenshot of YouTube

One other thing we’d like to talk about is annotations, which are like pop-up windows that can appear on any YouTube video. Creators add these to videos for a variety of reasons. For example, some people use annotations to add a Subscribe button to their videos, which makes it easier for you to follow their channels. We even use annotations on our YouTube channel to provide a link back to our tutorials. Whenever you see an annotation, you can select it to follow the link or choose the X to close it.

screenshot of YouTube

In our experience, however, the way most people use annotations is just annoying. Some less-reputable creators even use them to sneak in advertisements or other links, which can make the actual videos difficult to watch. If you don't like seeing annotations, you can turn them off for all videos—review our lesson on Adjusting Your Settings and Privacy to learn how.