How to Use YouTube TV’s Live Guide

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The live TV streaming service YouTube TV has rolled out big changes to its live guide.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the basics of navigating YouTube TV’s new channel guide in 2023 — including how to personalize it!

What You Need to Know About YouTube TV’s Live Guide

When you launch the YouTube TV app on your TV set, you’ll be taken to the home screen first. To access the live guide, arrow to the right on your remote and select LIVE.

Here’s what the new and improved YouTube TV live guide looks like on a TV set:

YouTube TV Live Guide with on now section and clock (2023 update)

ON NOW Section

YouTube TV’s channel guide features an ON NOW section immediately below the clock that was added after customer feedback.

Scroll through and the channel logo will change to a thumbnail image for the selected program.

The program name, network and date are listed below each thumbnail.

If you find something in the ON NOW section that you want to watch, select it (press OK on a Roku remote) and you’ll be taken directly to that program.

Main Live Guide

Scroll below the ON NOW section to access the main live guide.

From the main live guide area, you’ll notice that a show description appears at the top of the screen. It includes a description of the program that you have highlighted.

YouTube TV displays two hours of content on the live guide screen, but you can scroll to the right to preview upcoming content. There is no shortcut to jump ahead to a different day in the guide.

Live Guide Basics:

  • Select any program currently airing, and it will play in a few seconds
  • Select an upcoming program for an option to add it to your library (cloud DVR)

If you notice a check mark next to a program in the live guide, that means you added that program to your library (cloud DVR) and it’s being recorded.

When you select a program that’s being recorded, you can join live or play from the beginning.

Check mark in live guide means that program is being recorded

Network logos are featured on the far left side of the guide. Select a network logo to see content for that channel only.

This will include live, upcoming and on demand programming.

Select a network logo for content from an individual channel

YouTube TV’s new guide shrunk the font size compared to the previous version. Unfortunately, there is no way to increase the font size.

How to Customize the YouTube TV Live Guide

If you don’t like the default order of the channel guide, you can customize it. Select the menu with three horizontal lines, which is located above the network logos.

Channel sorting options include:

  • Default
  • Custom
  • Most watched
  • A-Z (alphabetical)
  • Z-A
Customize YouTube TV live guide from a computer or mobile app

To create a custom guide, sign in to YouTube TV from a computer or the mobile app — not your TV set.

From YouTube TV’s website, select your account icon in the upper right corner. Click Settings. Then, select Live guide using the navigation on the left of the screen.

YouTube TV customize live guide from computer

This is where you can customize your live guide:

  • Use the up arrow to add favorite channels to the ‘Top Channels’ section
  • Use the handles on the left to drag and drop channels into the order you want them to appear in the guide
  • Hide channels from the live guide using the eye icon

You can also customize your live guide from the YouTube TV mobile app. Instead of arrows, you will place a checkmark by the channels to include in the guide.

Once you’ve personalized your live guide from the account settings, return to the live guide and select the Custom filter to display it.

Select custom live guide

Channel Surfing Options

When you’re watching live TV, click the back button on your remote to return to the live guide.

As an alternative, click down three times on your remote while watching a program to access a mini guide. This allows you to channel surf while the current program plays in the background.

The last channel you were watching is displayed in the first position on the mini guide.

YouTube TV mini guide for channel surfing

If you’re scrolling through the YouTube TV live guide and want to return to the program you were last watching, click back on your remote until you reach the top of the screen.

From there, arrow up to select the title of the program above the menu for Library, Home and Live.

Live Guide From Website and Mobile App

This article has focused on navigating YouTube TV’s live guide from a TV.

The website and mobile app also offer access to the live guide, but the display is slightly different compared to a TV set.

For example, the mobile app only displays what’s currently airing — not what’s coming up.

YouTube TV mobile app and web browser live guide

YouTube TV is my #1 pick for first-time streamers who want the best of cable at a lower price. You can compare YouTube TV alternatives in my updated guide by clicking here.

And learn more about YouTube TV in my ultimate guide for beginners tutorial.


More Content From Michael Saves:

36 thoughts on “How to Use YouTube TV’s Live Guide”

  1. How do I assign numbers to the channels in YouTube TV? I do not want to scroll through 70 or 80 channels to go to a certain channel. Changing the order of the channels is of little or no value, since I use all the channels. I just want to give each one a number and be able to enter that number to go there. is there a way to do that? If not, YouTube TV is losing millions of potential customers.

    Reply
  2. I am seeing the new style live guide on one of my three TVs but not the other two. I use the generation of Apple TV devices to access YouTube TV.

    I don’t think I did anything to update the live guide on the one TV that has it and I can’t figure out how to update the live guide on the other two TVs.

    Reply
  3. I can not get the list of shows on the live tv guide. The new shows are on top but the grid list of channels I can not get, does not show. How do I get that back???? The list of channels is gone….. just the pictures of the shows on are on top of my LIVE …. is there a way to get it back. It is only on one of our tv’s, the newest one does not show it. HELP…..

    Reply
  4. BTW … I just spoke with a YouTube TV engineer. They had to roll back the new guide interface for the built-in LG TV app as well as the Apple TV (streaming device) app. Anybody using those will see the “old” interface (no clock, etc.).

    Reply
  5. I have just cut the cord and signed up for YouTube TV to use primarily on my TV. (Strange, I know.) I have googled and I have watched several of your videos, but I can’t find a grid that shows what is on, on all channels and what will be on going forward (like what I’m used to with xFinity). When I scroll below “live,” I see what’s playing on three different HBO channels–that’s it. If that’s what is meant by “live guide,” it does me no good. Directions I found elsewhere were equally unhelpful. Can someone please tell me how to find something like a program guide for YouTube TV? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  6. “There are no channel numbers with YouTube TV. If you want streaming and channel numbers, DIRECTV STREAM is an option.”

    Thank you for the information, the above comment was helpful.

    Reply
    • I wish there were numbers. It’s easier finding a channel when a number is used. Maybe YouTube tv could add a feature where the user could add numbers and be able to also search by number. I use Google Chromecast and sometimes I can’t remember which program was on what channel. Heck of a lot easier remembering a number.

      Reply
  7. On UTube Tv the live guide does not show day or date. All you can do is just keep forwarding to you find it. Can I get the day for the time shown.

    Is there a way to fast forward through the guide days?

    Reply
      • This is the question I came looking for an answer to! Where IS the search feature for the channel guide (to find upcoming programming)? When I use the search icon 🔎I don’t see the live broadcast of the show I search for come up—but just options to stream the show from a variety of choices (like streaming apps). Can you help? 😀THANKS MICHAEL!

        Reply
  8. I’m streaming on my Sony TV. My Sony remote does not have a combined play/pause button – it has a separate button for each function. Is anyone aware of a shortcut to get from the menu display to the live programming in the background? TIA

    Reply
    • if you have scrolled down the live tv guide, when watching a show and try to return to the show you were watching, hit the back button–it will take you all the way up to the top of the guide, and then three up arrows will get you to the top of the screen where the show you are watching is listed. when that is highlighted, click on it. this will take you back to the show.

      Reply
    • This is Vince L. I have a Sony Bravia TV. and my earlier reply stated once you hit the back button, this will take you to the top of your live guide. Then hit the up arrow button 2 to 3 times and that will get you to the top of the screen where the show you were watching is higlighted. Hit the middle enter button and it will return you to the show you were watching. Hope this helps, sure is a lot quicker than scrolling all the way back up to the top of the live guide.

      Reply
  9. Hitting play/pause no longer escapes from the guide to the show you were watching. Is there a way to escape out of the guide after surfing without having to scroll all the way to the top of the guide?

    Reply
  10. When recording a series, can you specify whether you want all recordings of the series (including reruns) or just new episodes only? I can’t find anywhere that you specify recording options like this

    Reply
  11. The Home Screen on my YouTube tv doesn’t have the clock and it recently quit allowing me to arrow down to get to my last watched channel. I tried to update the app from the roku Home Screen but it said it was already updated. Not sure why I can’t use that shortcut anymore. Thoughts?

    Reply
  12. Is there a way to expand the guide to more than channels/networks? Occasionally, when scrolling, it suddenly jumps to include 7 or 8 channels, but then reverts to 4 after another click or two.

    Reply

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