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How to use the new YouTube home page

On the first of this month, YouTube rolled out its new home page, the first big makeover since the popular video site was launched in 2005. Although the changes were widely publicized,  the new format still came as a bit of a shock to regular visitors. That’s because virtually everything has changed. As one commentator pointed out, the YouTube logo in the top left-hand corner is really the only evidence that you are looking at the same site!

The makeover reinforces YouTube’s commitment to the channel concept that has been the driving force behind all recent development. Think of channels on YouTube exactly the way you think of pages on Facebook. Adding a channel to your YouTube account is the same as Liking a Facebook page: you are subscribing to receive all existing and future content that’s stored under that channel name.

The comparison with Facebook is no accident. The dominant feature of the new YouTube home page is the video feed, which takes up the entire center panel. Your YouTube feed is exactly like your Facebook or Twitter feed: it’s the latest offerings from all the channels that you follow – or in YouTube’s case – subscribe to.

If this is also starting to sound a lot like TV, or at least your TiVo or DVR set-up, then that’s no coincidence either. YouTube is clearly asking you to use the site the same way you use your TV – turn it on when you want to see your favorite music, comedy, arts or sports programming, or just when you are bored and want to surf.

Here is a more detailed summary of the new home page features:

  • On the left side of the homepage is your customizable channel selection. Once you are signed in, you can add an unlimited number of channels. YouTube will make suggestions based on your previous video selections or you can browse the various YouTube categories by clicking on the Add Channels button. Categories include everything from Comedy to News & Politics to Sports. Once you find a channel you like, you click on Subscribe to add it to your channel list.
  • As stated above, the middle panel represents a live feed of all the latest content from the channels you subscribe to. Each time you return to your home page, it will be updated with new videos from your favorite channels.
  • The third column is a selection of individual videos, which include YouTube’s recommendations based of what you have viewed before, and videos in a YouTube-chosen “Spotlight” feature. (At the time of writing, this included a selection of holiday and party recipe videos.)
  • Remember, you can still search for individual videos using the search bar at the top of each page. When you view an individual video, you always have the opportunity to subscribe to the originator’s channel.

Of course, another ever-present feature of the home page is access to your own channel and all the videos you have ever uploaded yourself. It also includes a link to a history of your most recently watched videos and those videos you have previously “Liked.”

With these changes and YouTube’s move to include full-length movies, TV shows, and other professionally produced content, Google is clearly putting forward yet another option for Internet TV – this time with millions of programs to choose from!

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