The Seniors Guide to YouTube

Special note: when we label the videos, we have decided to indicate whether a screenshot is above or below by adding an ‘a’ or ‘b’ to the reference. For example, (3b) means, item number 3 on the screenshot below the text. (1a) is item number 1 on the screenshot above the text.

About YouTube

YouTube is a website where people are able to share videos with the public. YouTube contains videos that people have made themselves, excerpts from tv shows, music clips, videos of lectures, TV shows and movies.

To find YouTube type: into your web browser and you will be taken to YouTube’s homepage.

Since 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute the real challenge is searching for and finding what you would like to watch. You do not need a YouTube account to view YouTube videos.

How to find a video to watch on YouTube

The first way that you will interact with YouTube when you are searching for a video is through the search bar (1b). This is the text box at the top of the screen that you are able to type into. In this text box you can start typing the topic, or the name of a show or topic that you are interested in.

You will see that while you are typing, words or sentence will pop up below as suggestions (1b). These are suggestions made by YouTube based on common search that contain the same letters or words as what you are typing.

You can now either keep typing what you are typing and either press enter or click the magnifying glass (2b) to search, or you can click on an item in the list that YouTube has generated and choose from the popular search terms by clicking on it (3b).

You will then see a range of videos appear in thumbnail form with some writing next to them (2b). The first few that appear with a peach-ish background (1b) are advertisements that people have paid for that may be relevant to your search. The ones below the peach are not paid for and are just general videos (2b). None of these videos cost you money to watch, so it doesn’t matter which one you select as long as it interests you.

The image you see next to each video is a screenshot from the video (3a) – like you paused the video in a certain part and are using it as the cover. This will often help you identify if the video is something you are after. In the above example, seeing Julia Gillard will help you quickly identify Australian parliament versus the English parliament above it.

You will see a small rectangular black box with white numbers (3a), this is the length of the video in hours, minutes and seconds. If you are looking for a TV show or movie, it should be at least twenty minutes.

In blue you will see the name of the video (4a) and underneath you will see the name of the channel that has uploaded the video (5a), how long ago it was uploaded (6a) and how many people have viewed or looked at it (7a).

Watching a video: controlling the playback, quality and size


Once you click on a video, it will load and begin playing as soon as the web page has loaded. You can pause the video by clicking on it once or pressing the space bar, and click it again to resume playback.

There are several buttons below the video which are important to know how to operate. On the left hand side you will see a pause button (1a), clicking this will allow you to pause the video to watch it later, or to stop it temporarily if you need to do something else.

If you find that when you watch videos they are jumpy or not playing in a continuous manner, clicking the pause button will give your computer more time to download the video and when you press play again it will be smoother. You can track this by watching the feint grey bar (2a) increase in size to the right as more of the video loads.

Next to the pause button you will see a speaker icon (3a). If you click on this icon a sliding grey box will appear, it will be partially red the closer the red is to the speaker the softer the sound will be the further away and the more red is visible the louder the sound will be. You can slide the control up and down to adjust the volume. If the speaker has a line through it the volume is muted, the video will keep playing but there will be no sound. Click the button with the line through it to re-enable the sound.

The next thing you will see are two sets of numbers (4a), the first lot of numbers tells you how long you have been watching or how far into the video it is. The second number tells you the total length of the video in hours, minutes and seconds. Hours will be omitted if not applicable.

Above this you will see a long rectangular bar that goes across the whole screen (5a), it will have a red line which will show you where you are in the video. You will notice throughout the video that it will be moving towards the right hand side of your screen.

If you would like to skip a bit or rewind you simply click on the rectangular area where you would like to skip in the video (5a), you will see the numbers will update as you do this. If  there are rectangular yellow lines interspersed in your long rectangle (not shown in screenshot), these are ad breaks and you will have to watch these.

Some advertisements will allow you to skip them after a set amount of time usually a few seconds, if you advertisement allows this a big screen with an arrow will appear in the right hand corner of your screen and once this appears you can click it and return to your movie.

The cog icon (2a) relates to the picture quality. The higher the number the better quality the video will be, but the slower it will load. If you have a slow internet connection then the lower the number, the faster the video will load. Remember you can pause your video and it will keep downloading if it is not playing continuously for you.

The clock icon (3a), allows you to save a video for later.

The next 3 buttons refer to the physical size of the video player on your screen. The first icon (4a), which is selected automatically, is the smallest video size and is how you will normally watch videos. The next icon (5a) makes the video double-size. This gives you a bigger picture of the video and does not take any more time or internet bandwidth to play at that size.

The final icon (6a) allows you to watch the video in full-screen mode. This will sometimes look grainy if the video is of a poor quality. If you enter full-screen mode, press the ESC key on your keyboard to get back out of it when you are finished.

Watching a video: what all the information means


Below the video you will see a group of information. The title of the video (1a) is the most prominent. Below this you will see a picture (2a), this is a link to the person who runs the “channel” which you are viewing. This is a representation of who uploaded the video to the internet. Sometimes this will be an individual person, and sometimes it will be a company. In our example it is NewsOnABC.

There is an option to subscribe to the channel (3a) which, if you click it, will show you videos from this channel in future when you login to YouTube. On the right you the right you will see some numbers above a green line (4a) underneath the line you will see a thumbs up and thumbs down icon (5a) with numbers next to it. This section indicates how many people have viewed that video and if they have liked (thumbs up) or disliked the video (thumbs down) the clip. If we return back to the left hand screen and look below the subscribe button you will see an icon of a thumbs up or down (6a), this allows you to rate the video as either like or dislike, simply by clicking on the icon.


Once you click on like you will see a box appear that allows you to share the video and decide what part of the video to share. The way sharing works is you will see a url (1a). Next to this you will see a small box that allows you to indicate a start time (2a). If you check the square and then choose the start time, this will be start time that is shared on your social media.

You can then choose from the icons below the URL (3a), for each social media type it will be different but it will generally require you to login, and the information will then appear and you will be able to share according to the process that that particular social media program uses.

You are also able to email the video link to friends; this is a great way to share with a particular person privately or a person who may not have social media. To do this click the email tab (4a), when this tab appears, you simply need to type in the recipients (the person receiving the email) email address in the rectangular box that has the word to above it (1b). If you would like to add a message you can do this in the larger rectangular box that is entitled additional note (2b), but you do not need to if you don’t want to.

The larger grey box entitled message preview will show you what the recipient will receive (3b), if you are happy just press send (4b), The recipient will be able to click the link when they receive the email and it will take them directly to the video you were watching.

Related Videos

The small thumbnails that run down the left hand side (1b), are recommendations based on what you are currently viewing, they may be on related topics, or they may be videos that other people watch when they watch the video you are watching or they may be a series. This left hand bar is your friend, especially if you are watching a video that is in parts, or a series and you wish to watch more of the same. Scrolling through the left hand bar may allow you to find the next part, or it may help you find a related video or a channel that has the show you are looking for. If you wish to see more simply press the load more suggestions button at the end of all the thumbnails.

The comments section (2a) can be interesting, but often it is full of nonsense and usually arguments between users. It can be useful to find out more information about a video or see people’s thoughts, but it is worth looking at with a healthy skepticism.

You will see that beneath the box that appears for the information related to the red line there is a section called top comments (2a), this is probably your best bet if you are looking for particular information or where to find the next part of a video. Users have rated comments and the comments with the highest ratings will be shown here.


You are also able to join the conversations taking place and the rating of comments (3a).


To rate a comment you simply press the thumbs up for like or thumbs down for dislike icon (3a), you will see the icon will turn green and a pop up will appear saying rate up.

If you wish to simply make a comment unrelated to previous comments you can do so by typing your comment in the blank rectangle that appears underneath the all comments section (4a), you will see in the rectangle the words click to leave a comment, to get rid of this and start you comment simply click in the box a screen will appear asking you who you wish to be identified as, once you have selected the person you wish to be identified as you simply type your comment in and submit it.

Signing up for an account on YouTube

Creating an account on YouTube is purely optional. If you just wish to search for and watch videos on YouTube, there is no requirement to make an account at all.

If you do make an account, YouTube will track the videos you watch and learn what you like. In future when you visit the YouTube homepage, YouTube will offer you suggestions as to videos you may be interested in. Having an account also allows you to “like” videos, and save videos that you like for later viewing.

We will now go through the steps of setting up a YouTube account, but remember you do not need one to use YouTube, but it does help if you are going to use YouTube regularly or if you are doing complicated searches that you wish to return to at a later date.

Step 1 – Click on “Sign In” on the top right hand corner of the screen (1b)

Step 2 – Click on “Create An Account” (1b)

From there, fill in the details that Google asks for. Once you have completed the process you will be returned to YouTube.

Finding a news clip or popular video

You may also be looking for a video that has been in the news due to its popularity. A very quick way to search for this is to type in what you can remember about the clip or video and then sort your search by one of the choices available the filters button. Here you can choose to look at items uploaded in the Last hour, Today, This Week, and you can sort by Relevance, Upload date, View count or rating.