YouTube TV Tips and Tricks: 20 Settings You Need to Know

If you have YouTube TV, you’re going to wish that you knew about these features sooner! 

In this article, I share 20 settings to help new and existing YouTube TV subscribers get the most out of the live TV streaming service.

Please note: Some settings can only be changed from your computer and/or phone, not your TV set.

User Guide: YouTube TV Tips and Tricks

Table of Contents:

  1. Customize the Live Guide
  2. Quickly Return to Live TV
  3. Disable Autoplay on Start
  4. Don’t Show Me This
  5. Watch 4 Screens at Once With Multiview
  6. Set Recordings (Cloud DVR)
  7. Start From Beginning
  8. Mark as Watched
  9. Adjust Notifications
  10. Delete Search and Watch History
  11. Prevent Sports Spoilers
  12. View Key Plays and Stats
  13. Family Sharing
  14. Change Your Home Area
  15. Enable Dark Theme
  16. Change Streaming Quality
  17. Parental Controls
  18. TV Everywhere
  19. Manage Your Membership
  20. Contact YouTube TV Support

1. Customize the Live Guide

YouTube TV has more than 100 channels in its base plan, but chances are you only watch maybe 10 or so of them on a regular basis.

The good news is that you can customize the live guide to see your favorites first.

From either your phone or computer, navigate to your account settings and click on Live guide from the menu to the left.

Now, you can create a custom live guide and remove or change the order of the channels. 

  • To remove a channel, uncheck it or select the eye icon and it won’t show up
  • To reorder a channel, select it and drag it up or down

After making the changes, reopen the live guide from any device and make sure that you have the custom live guide selected — not the default one. 

I have a separate article and video that walks you through the process:

2. Quickly Return to Live TV

This next tip solves one of the most common frustrations with YouTube TV.

If you’re channel surfing the live guide and want to quickly return to live programming, there’s an easy way to do that with a Roku remote or similar streaming media player.

Simply click the Play/Pause button twice to dismiss the guide and return to live TV.

This tip also works from other areas of YouTube TV like the home screen and library. Just press Play/Pause twice from those areas to return to the last show you were watching.

You can also navigate to the very top of the screen and select the program title to return to live TV.

3. Disable Autoplay on Start

When you open the YouTube TV app from a TV set, one of your top recommendations will play automatically in the background.

However, you can turn off the ‘Autoplay on start’ feature.

Go to your profile icon in the top right corner, click Settings and then turn off “Autoplay on start.”

Unfortunately, there is no way to select a specific channel to play at launch.

The autoplay feature is based on YouTube TV’s algorithm and recommendations for your account.

4. Don’t Show Me This

The YouTube TV home screen provides recommendations that get better the more you watch.

But if there’s something that you absolutely DO NOT want to see on your home screen, select the menu (three dots) for a specific program and then Don’t show me this.

This option is available from your phone or computer. Here’s the view from a desktop:

Don't show me this option from desktop computer

This feature will remove the program from the home screen, but you’ll still be able to find it using the search function or through the live guide in case you change your mind.

5. Watch 4 Screens at Once With Multiview

YouTube TV began testing its highly-requested multiview feature for March Madness 2023. This feature allows sports fans to watch up to four games at once.

While in multiview mode, users can switch audio and captions. There’s also the option to go fullscreen.

YouTube TV Multiview with 4 streams on a single screen

When YouTube TV launched multiview for March Madness, only pre-selected streams were available. The service plans to offer customizable multiview streams in the future.

Multiview is not available for the NHL and NBA playoffs. It will be formally rolled out in time for NFL football season in the fall.

6. Set Recordings (Cloud DVR)

YouTube TV includes unlimited DVR storage, so why not take advantage of it and add your favorite shows, movies and live events to your library?

You can do this from any device: your phone, computer or from a TV set. 

When you select a program, look for the add button — which is the plus symbol. Then, upcoming airings will be added to your library. 

For a series, YouTube TV records new episodes and reruns. You cannot record only new episodes.

Record shows with YouTube TV

Once you’re ready to view your recordings, navigate to the Library tab and they’ll be there. 

But here’s a tip: Select the DVR version that says Recorded, not the VOD (Video On Demand) version that says Released.

When you watch recordings, you can always fast-forward through the commercials. But many on-demand shows and movies will have unskippable ads.

That’s just another reason to add as much to your library as possible.

If you ever want to stop recordings, select a program and uncheck the “Added to library” option.

Current and upcoming airings will no longer be recorded, but you’ll still be able to watch your recordings until they expire. Recordings are saved for 9 months.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to manually delete programs from your YouTube TV library.

Here’s a separate video tutorial that walks you through YouTube TV’s DVR.

7. Start From Beginning

If you want to join a live program while it’s in progress and skip through the ads, you can do that as long as it’s in your library.

When you’re recording a program that’s airing live, select it and you’ll have two choices:

  • Join live
  • Start from beginning

For hour-long shows, I like to join them about 15 minutes late and start from the beginning. Since I’m watching on a delay, I can manually fast-forward through all of the ads.

Just remember: Add the program to your library BEFORE IT STARTS to enjoy this flexibility and skip those commercials! 

8. Mark as Watched

The unique thing about YouTube TV’s DVR is that it’s all or nothing for most programming.

For example, let’s say that I set a recording for House Hunters. That means YouTube TV is going to record every episode that airs, new AND reruns. 

But if you’ve ever started watching a show only to realize a few minutes in that you’ve already seen it, you’ll want to use the Mark as Watched feature.

From your computer, find the TV show episode that you want to mark as watched and select the three dots to access the menu.

Then, click Mark episode as watched or Mark season as watched.

If you’re using YouTube TV from a phone, long press on any program to mark it as watched. That way, it won’t be recommended to you anymore.

You can’t select this feature directly from your TV. Let’s hope that YouTube TV adds this option soon.

Here’s my workaround: From a TV set, I will fast-forward to the end of a recording that I want to mark as watched. After I watch the final minute of the recording, the program is marked as watched.

9. Adjust Notifications

From the YouTube TV mobile app, select Notify and the bell icon from the program page or below the video player on the watch page.

That way, you’ll get an alert when a new live airing starts.

But if YouTube TV notifications are a problem for you, there’s a solution for that too. Go to the YouTube TV settings from your phone and click Notifications.

Here you can turn on or off notifications for recommendations, account information and product updates.

10. Delete Search and Watch History

If YouTube TV’s recommendations are totally off, you may want to try clearing your search and watch history.

From a computer: 

  • Select your profile icon
  • Go to the Settings tab
  • Click Privacy
  • Click Manage search history and Manage watch history

From there, you’ll be able to delete things you’ve viewed on YouTube TV and YouTube. It’s easy to delete items individually or you can select by date range.

You can also pause the search and watch history going forward, but that will affect your recommendations.

11. Prevent Sports Spoilers

YouTube TV makes it easy to follow your favorite teams and leagues.

From the search bar, you can type the name of your favorite team and add it to your library to record upcoming games.

But to prevent spoiler alerts, head to the menu from the team page and select Hide all scores for this team.

That way, YouTube TV won’t display the final score before you’ve had a chance to watch the game. 

Hide all scores for this team feature from YouTube TV on a desktop

12. View Key Plays and Stats

YouTube TV’s key plays feature lets you watch highlights of select games. This is one of my favorite features if I start watching a game late or after it’s finished.

Key plays is available from TV sets and mobile devices, not a computer.

YouTube TV Key Plays and Stats

When you’re watching a game from a TV set, you can arrow down on your remote to access key plays. Stats and scores are also available from this menu.

The stats are tied to the time you’re currently watching, so you can check them without fear of spoilers.

13. Family Sharing

You can share your YouTube TV subscription with other people who live in your household. 

The primary account holder is called the Family Manager. They can share YouTube TV with up to five members — for a total of six accounts per household. 

From the settings, the account manager can invite members with a Google account. 

Having separate accounts for different members of the household allows each person to get their own recommendations and DVR.

Just remember, you must live in the same household as other members on the account. 

YouTube TV allows for three simultaneous streams with the base plan, which should be plenty for most households.

You can get unlimited in-home streams and three on the go with the 4K Plus add-on.

14. Change Your Home Area

YouTube TV allows you to change your home area, with some limitations.

Only the Family Manager can make this change. From the account settings, select Area and then Update.

You can change your home area twice per year. 

This comes in handy for people who relocate or split their time between two homes throughout the year. 

15. Enable Dark Theme

With the default version of YouTube TV on a web browser and mobile device, the background is white.

But there is a dark theme that you can enable. 

YouTube TV light vs. dark theme live guide

Whether you’re on a computer or your phone, select your profile picture in the corner, tap Settings and select the Dark Theme. 

Take a look at the difference above. Which do you prefer?

16. Change Streaming Quality

If you’re watching your data usage, you may want to adjust the YouTube TV streaming quality.

I’m on a mobile device for this demonstration. From the video player, select the three dots in the upper right corner and then Quality.

It’s set to automatic on all supported devices, but you can adjust down or up as necessary.

Adjust YouTube TV video quality from a phone

If you want to stream video in 4K, that feature is available as an add-on from your account settings. However, the amount of content available to stream in 4K remains limited.

17. Parental Controls

There’s a way to make YouTube TV safer for kids.

You can turn on the “Allow TV-Y, TV-G, G, and PG only” setting to filter which programs can be watched using the service.

From a mobile device, click Settings, Filter and make the selection.

According to YouTube TV, this setting turns on the filter for only one device. 

YouTube TV parental controls from a mobile device

From a TV set, you’ll want to select the profile picture, tap Settings, Filter and then turn on Enable the TV-Y, TV-G, G, and PG only setting.

If you have multiple children with separate accounts, repeat this process for each device tied to their YouTube TV account.

18. TV Everywhere

For many of the networks in its lineup, YouTube TV users can use their sign-in information to watch TV Everywhere. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Go to the mobile app or website for a specific network
  • Select YouTube TV as your service provider
  • Enter your YouTube TV sign-in information
  • Get instant access to what the network app or website offers

Here’s a full list of participating networks

19. Manage Your Membership

This is something only the Family Manager can do. 

From the account settings on your computer, click on Billing.

Next to the payment method, select Update and you’ll be able to manage your payment information. 

This is where you can change your payment method and even add a backup.

YouTube TV billing information change on a computer

And if you ever want to pause or cancel your YouTube TV membership, head to the Membership tab. You can easily see your billing date from that screen.

I made another video that explains the differences between pausing and canceling YouTube TV:

20. Contact YouTube TV Support

If you have additional questions about YouTube TV’s settings and features that were not answered in this article, you can reach out to YouTube TV customer support.

YouTube TV offers support over live chat and email. You can also request a callback.

For issues that don’t require the help of a live agent, you may want to use the Send Feedback tool. From any device, select your profile icon and then Send Feedback.

To let YouTube TV know about channels you’d like added to the service, use this separate form.

Leave a comment below if you have any questions. For more coverage of YouTube TV and other live TV streaming services, subscribe to Michael Saves on YouTube!

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36 thoughts on “YouTube TV Tips and Tricks: 20 Settings You Need to Know”

  1. Great tips, helped me get my family setup! The custom menu rocks, now if I could just get it to default to Live TV it would save a few clicks. We’re in trial mode but stand to save $60 a month over my spectrum cable provider if this tests out.

  2. My wife would like to see if there were a way to increase the size of the channel name on the “live” guide. Even on our 65″ TV many are unreadable across the room.

  3. We have been enjoying YouTubeTV (YTTV) for months. We have YTTV on three televisons. The one in my bedroom is acting up. It goes on but after a while the circle curser freezes the screen and sound for about four minutes while it continues to spin then continues playing and continues this pattern. It does it on all channels and recorded shows too.
    It used to help by unplugging and plugging back it in socket but not now.
    Any suggestions?

  4. You advertise 7 day free trial or 3 months @ $10 off first three months. But I go to sign up, I get 5 day free style. Is this false advertising or what???

  5. i have read and re-read the most watched tip. when i find the episode i wish to mark as watched, i do not see the three dots. nor does the episode get marked as watched automatically. it used to but no longer. is there a setting i am missing to enable this feature? Either the automatic maring of watched or the manual method to mark something as watched?

  6. Why do I record shows, and I can play them for days or weeks…and then all of a sudden, they are not available to watch…but still in my library??? Can I only watch a certain amount of times? I thought they stayed for 9 months???

  7. My wife has recorded the Andy Griffith show…and added it to our library. She likes to fall asleep to it…and leave it on all night. The problem is now …it does not go on to the next episode! It used to all the time…and it does on other series recordings…such as Big Bang Theory…but no longer on Andy Griffith! Any suggestions on a fix?

  8. Wondering if you could help. The mini guide used to display all the channels from left to right. Now only 4 channels are displayed not the entire line-up. I’ve gone to to make sure all channels are check marked, restarted my computer and have not had any luck. I hate to have to uninstall and reinstall. Thought you could offer some advice. Thanks so much!

  9. Hulu lets you fast forward 5 different speeds by pushing “forward” multiple times.

    On a TV, it appears that YouTube TV only jumps 15 seconds per push..

    Is there a way to fast forward YouTube TV on a television similar to the method used by Hulu.

    I know you can fast forward (using the bar) on a device or PC, but I generally don’t watch TV on a device.

    I think this is a major functional flaw in YouTube TV, unless I’m missing an alternative way to do it.

  10. Is there a way to set the home/default channel, so that every time I start the Youtube TV app (I’m primarily using via a Roku device) the channel it’s playing by default is the one I want? Mine seems to always automatically come up with the local NBC broadcast channel, and I wish it to default to something else. I’ve looked all around for an answer to this question but can’t seem to find it.

  11. I have turned off Autoplay at Start which was a great suggestion. Is there a way to stop another show from autoplaying after the show I was watching finishes? I have fallen asleep and next thing I see I supposedly watched all episodes when in reality I only watched one. I would like a show to just ‘end’ and even just go to a blank screen.

  12. I agree that the inability to set a default home channel is a major weakness of the service. My workaround is to arrange the guide so that my preferred channel is the top entry. That way it’s just a couple of clicks to bring up the channel I want. It’s not ideal, but it’s the best solution I can come up with.

  13. Giving YTTV a try – generally impressed. I wondered if you had any ideas on one issue: when I press ‘Down’ for the mini-guide, it times out after a couple of seconds. Is there a way to put a longer delay on that? I’m not seeing any sort of “setting” for it.

      • Right, so it isn’t just me 😂 If I could throw another question at you: is there a consistent way to get to the regular grid-style guide? My wife has some short-term memory issues and works best with something that “does what it says on the tin”: we have a fully programmable Harmony remote with a Guide button, just need to know what to tell it to do if that’s possible.


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