YouTube Video Basics

What is YouTube?

YouTube is a website intended to share videos that have been created and uploaded by millions of users around the world. You can watch, like, share, comment and upload videos.  They amount of video is huge and growing.  Over 400 hours of video is uploaded every hour.

As a consumer of videos, the videos on YouTube can be viewed on PCs, laptops, iPhone and other smartphone, iPads and other tablets, and even smart TVs.  

We also categorize YouTube as a Social Media platform due to a user’s ability to comment, like and share.  Although all of those steps are optional and any user can simply be a consumer of videos.  

Essential for Seniors

We feel that YouTube  is an essential website for any Senior.  On YouTube you can find videos that entertain, teach and inform.  We would place learning on the top of the list.  This is what makes the site essential.

This recipe will teach you how to find and view videos on YouTube.  But as you get to know YouTube, let’s also understand how money is made on YouTube.  Remember the site is free but there is no free lunch.  We’ll explain.  

Recipe #440

List of Ingredients

Use the links below to quickly access specific topic or information about this recipe.

Why Would I Use YouTube?

We recommend that you consider using YouTube for news, entertainment and learning with learning as the most compelling reason for using this platform.  Here is a review of each of these areas.

News – YouTube can be a source for news and includes new user uploaded video and also broadcast news. A simple search for “News” will bring you to a news channel with video provided by news sources such as CNN, network broadcasters, USA today and other newspapers and more. In today’s age, there is no need to wait for the 10 o’clock news. News video is available within minutes of significant events.

Entertainment – If you are simply looking for entertainment, YouTube is well-known as a source for hours of entertainment fun. A simple YouTube search for “Entertainment” will provide access to the latest uploads from TV, movie clips, comedy, and more. See monologues from late night TV, clips from comedy shows like Saturday Night Live and sports highlights. And if you want to see what others are watching, search for “Popular on YouTube.” This search will also give you access to funny cat or pet videos that have gone viral.

Music is another element of entertainment that YouTube offers.  There are many people who pass on subscription music services in favor of free music through YouTube.  Search for “Music” to access the Music channel. Alternatively, you can also search for “Classical Music” or “70’s Rock.”  Or search for a favorite song or artist.  Chances are you can find it on YouTube.

Learning – What do you want to learn? YouTube can provide learning videos on a large number of topics including languages, musical instruments and school topics. You can even find thousands of college course lectures from prestigious schools. You can also find the library of Ted talks on YouTube. Search for “learn piano”, “Yale lectures” or “Ted Talks” to see examples.

As a learning tool, YouTube is a great how-to/DIY Reference library.  If you are a do-it-your-selfer for home repair, auto mechanics, cooking, sports and more, you can find help on YouTube. Use the search function to find instructional videos on almost any topic. Here are some search examples that you can try, “filet fish”, “finish drywall”, “change oil on a Toyota Prius”, ‘devein shrimp” or “brain surgery.”

In some cases, learning how to perform a fix on a car can save you hundreds of dollars over what a dealer or professional auto mechanic would charge.  And it’s fun.

How Does YouTube Make Money?

YouTube is owned by Google.  If you follow any news about Google you know that YouTube must be a money maker.  Like with any web service or social media, it is important that you understand how YouTube makes money and how if affects your “free” experience.  l


Although YouTube videos are free to watch, you will be presented with ad.  Google uses several kinds of ads that are presented to users. Here are two examples:

The first is sponsored placements.  In the example below, you will see an ad placed at the top of your search results.  These ad will required you to click on the ad in order to view more information about the product.  This means that these ad are also fairly easy to ignore.

Ad Placement in YouTube – Easy to ignore.


Embedded ads are advertisements most commonly presented at the beginning of ads you wish to view.   When presented with an ad, look for the opportunity to skip the ad after a few seconds. There is no way to opt out of these ads unless you subscribe to a monthly premium subscription. Ads are just something you’ll have to deal with if you use YouTube. But it is worth it.

Subscription Services

YouTube also makes money through subscription services where you might pay a monthly fee.  At the time of this publication YouTube offers YouTube Premium and YouTube TV.  Neither of these services are necessary for the core benefits you get from YouTube unless you are looking for ad-free viewing or live-TV from YouTube.

YouTube Subscriptions Services

Access YouTube on your device

There are two ways to access YouTube video on your device, 1) use the mobile YouTube web site ( or 2) install the YouTube app on your device.  If you access YouTube on a regular desk computer or laptop, you can access YouTube from any web browser at

For Seniors who wish to primarily view videos, there is no significant advantage to installing the app. So using the mobile site requires no installation and can provide immediate access to YouTube content.

If you use the web site, save the site address as a bookmark in your Safari or other web browser.

Signing in to YouTube

Do I need a Google username/account?

No.  You can search and view YouTube videos without a Google username or  signing into YouTube.

However, signing in with a Google account allows you to to perform additional functions including:

  • Like or dislike video by tapping on the like or dislike (thumbs down) icon
  • Subscribe to video channels where additional videos from the video owner are shown under you subscriptions.  There is no cost for this subscription.  Video owners encourage you to subscribe to their channel as they will earn money with ads presented to their subscribers.
  • Comment on the videos you view.  You could ask questions or provide feedback.
  • You will also need to sign in if you want to share videos or upload your own videos.

To sign in you will need a Google/Gmail account. If you have an email address, you already have one. If you don’t have a Google account, go to and look for the Sign In and Create Account links.

Please note that if you do sign in with YouTube or any other Google product, you are providing Google information about your likes and activities that they use in presenting advertising.  Privacy is a common concern expressed by many and the choice about whether you sign in or not is your decision


Watch YouTube Videos

Below is the home page of the website site. The numbers below define each function:

  1. Home – tap either the YouTube icon or the home icon to return to the YouTube home page.
  2. Search – Search is a key function in the YouTube interface. Tap Search to present a search bar where you can type a search term and launch a search.  See Searching for Videos to Watch below.
  3. Trending – Tap the Trending icon to see the videos that are trending. YouTube indicates that Trending considers view count, the rate of growth in views, where views are coming from and other signals to determine what’s trending.
  4. Subscriptions – You can find a Subscribe button under any YouTube video, or on a channel’s page. Once you subscribe to a channel, any new videos it publishes will show up in your Subscriptions feed. Tap Subscribe for quick access to your favorite channels.
  5. Account – Tap Account to see your video history, videos that you have saved or to access the video upload process.

How to find the content you desire – The key to finding content is the search function as identified with the search icon. Remember YouTube is owned by Google, most famous for search.

Use the search bar to uncover what you wish to view. Once you start watching a particular content, YouTube will present more of this content for you.

An effective search is to type the topic you with to explore into the search bar.  You can also type a question, for example, “How to devein shrimp?”

From your search request, a list of possible videos will be presented.

You can browse the list and choose a video based on the number of views, the age of the video.  The length of the video is presented and you can also tap on the video in order to see the number of likes and dislikes that previous viewers have made.  All of this information could help you select a video that will provide the information you desire.


Basic Viewer Controls

When you tap on a video to play it, you will find the video player has some essential controls.

  1. Pause/Play – tap to play or pause the current video
  2. Video Scrubber – shows your progress through the video. Drag the dot to advance forward or back in the video.
  3. Elapsed Time/Total Time. The first time is the elapsed time as you progress through the video. The second time is the total time of the video.
  4. Play full screen. Tap to present a full screen view of the video.

Check for Understanding


Use the following questions to determine if you understand the skills taught in this lesson.

  1. How do you access YouTube?
  2. Do you need a Google login/username in order to use YouTube?
  3. How do you use YouTube?

Additional Information

The Senior Tech Club recommends the following additional resources for members that wish to pursue additional and/or advanced information on this recipe:

Additional Training

If you would like to have additional online training, the Senior Tech Club recommends the free courses found at

Click their logo or the link to access the GCF LearnFree Facebook Series:
Facebook at

YouTube Tutorials


Senior Tech Club Recipes and Nuggets on Social Media:

Social Media for Older Adults
420Social Media for Older Adults
Getting Started with Facebook
421Getting Started with Facebook
Getting Started with Twitter
422Getting Started with Twitter
YouTube Video Basics
440YouTube Video Basics

Have a Question or a Comment?

You can type a question or comment about this recipe below.  This information is only seen my club members.  It is a safe place to ask your questions.

 Type your question or comment and tap SUBMIT COMMENT.


Submit a Comment