If you have YouTube TV, you’re going to wish that you knew about these features sooner!
User Guide: YouTube TV Tips and Tricks
Table of Contents:
- Customize the Live Guide
- Quickly Return to Live TV
- Disable Autoplay on Start
- Don’t Show Me This
- YouTube TV Multiview
- Set Recordings (Cloud DVR)
- Start From Beginning
- Mark as Watched
- Adjust Notifications
- Delete Search and Watch History
- Prevent Sports Spoilers
- View Key Plays and Stats
- Family Sharing
- Change Your Home Area
- Enable Dark Theme
- Change Streaming Quality
- Parental Controls
- TV Everywhere
- Contact Customer Support
- Cancel YouTube TV
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.
Fortunately, you can customize the live guide to see only the channels you want and block channels you don’t like.
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
With YouTube TV, the last program you were watching plays in the background as you navigate the service.
If you’re channel surfing the live guide and want to quickly return to programming, click the back button on your remote twice to return to the top of the guide.
Then, arrow up and select the name of the program that you were watching.
In the past, I shared how you could also click the Play/Pause button on your remote to dismiss the live guide and return to the last program you were watching.
Unfortunately, this functionality no longer works as of August 2023. I’ve reached out to YouTube TV for an explanation.
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:
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. YouTube TV Multiview
YouTube TV rolled out its highly-requested multiview feature ahead of NFL season. 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 says only pre-selected multiview streams are available at this time. That means you can’t pick and choose the channels you want to watch in multiview.
From the home screen, scroll down to the “Watch in multiview” section to see available streams.
In addition to sports streams, YouTube TV is offering pre-selected multiview streams for news, business and weather networks.
Each multiview stream features between two and four programs.
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.
How to Record on YouTube TV
When you select a program, look for the add button — which is the plus symbol. Tap that button and upcoming airings will be added to your library.
For a series, YouTube TV records new episodes and reruns. You cannot record only new episodes.
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.
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.
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.
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 primarily 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.
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.
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.
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
19. Contact Customer 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.
20. How to Cancel YouTube TV
If you want to cancel your YouTube TV subscription, sign in to your account from a computer at tv.youtube.com. You cannot cancel your membership from a TV or phone.
Once signed in from the website, click your profile icon, settings and then Membership.
Next, click Manage next to the YouTube TV Base Plan or any add-ons that you want to either pause or cancel.
If you cancel during a free trial, you’ll lose access to YouTube TV immediately. However, paying subscribers who cancel will continue to access the service until their next billing date.
There are typically no prorated refunds. If you have a special circumstance, contact customer support.
If you plan to resume your YouTube TV subscription in the future, you can pause for between 4 weeks and 6 months instead of canceling. Billing will automatically resume after the pause.
One benefit of using the pause option is that YouTube TV will save your previous recordings.
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!