towards the end of last year, i cut the cord on cable tv and replaced it with cnet’s favorite live tv streaming service, youtube tv. While I enjoy the strong channel lineup and endless cloud dvr of Google’s live TV streaming service (along with the lower monthly bill), it’s still not as easy to navigate channels as it was with my old comcast xfinity cable. box.
with social distancing and self-quarantine, hoping to keep everyone at home for the foreseeable future, people are likely spending more nights in front of the TV than before the coronavirus pandemic hit. For cord-cutters like me, that means more YouTube TV. here are five tips to help you get the most out of the service.
return to previous channel
I use a roku tv remote to navigate youtube tv, and it lacks channel up and down buttons and a last channel button. I’ve gotten used to not being able to change channels like I did with cable TV, but that’s behavior that lessened as I watched more shows on Netflix and Hulu anyway. Cable TV became more of a date to watch sports and news than just turning on the tube and blindly searching for something to watch.
still, I miss the last button. I like being able to ping pong between two channels to avoid commercials. Unfortunately there is no one button solution to toggle between channels on YouTube TV. the fastest way I found involved pressing four buttons:
- press the down arrow button three times, and then press ok.
- up arrow
the advantage is that pressing the down arrow three times takes you to a row of thumbnails of the channels you’ve recently watched, giving you more options than the last channel you were on. the previous channel is always the leftmost thumbnail.
remove guide overlap
It took me weeks to figure it out. YouTube TV has a semi-transparent guide overlay, and without an exit button on my Roku TV remote, there’s no obvious way to exit the guide and return to what you’re watching. the back button on the roku remote shows the guide, but it doesn’t come out as i would like. there is a sequence of three buttons you need to know to get rid of the guide and continue watching the current channel:
No matter where you are in the guide, and no matter what view (library, home, or live) you’re using, pressing the back button will take you to the beginning of the guide. from there, the up arrow button will highlight the title of the program you are currently watching at the top of the screen. the ok button will select the current program and exit the guide.
add to library = record cloud dvr
you can add a record button to the list of buttons that the roku remote is missing. With my xfinity cable remote, I could press the little red record button to record a show. With YouTube TV, you don’t “record” shows. no, you add them to your library. (And you’re free to do that because YouTube TV offers unlimited cloud dvr, though shows saved to your dvr library expire after nine months.)
To add the show you’re watching to your dvr library, press the down arrow button twice, then navigate to the “+” button and then press the ok button.
To add an upcoming show to your library, select it from the live guide, then select learn more where you’ll see the add to library button near the top of the show. the screen.
to stop recording a show, choose a show in your library and navigate to where it says added to library and press the ok button to deselect it.
customize channel guide
For this move, you’ll need to sign in to your youtube tv account on your computer or the youtube tv mobile app. Go to settings > live guide. there you can drag to reorder the channels as they appear in the live view of your channel guide. you can put your favorites at the top and you can also deselect the channels you don’t watch to prevent them from cluttering up your guide. It’s a bit tricky to manually drag channels near the bottom of the guide to the top because you can only drag them so far at a time. a better way is to use the three dots button for your favorites and select move at the beginning and then drag them once they are all positioned near the top of the guide.
once you rearrange your channel guide, you’ll need to sign out of youtube tv and back in to see the changes.
share with your family
While you’re on your computer or mobile device, you can also set up family sharing. You can share your YouTube TV account with up to five people so they can each watch separately and create their own library of DVR shows. just go to settings > family sharing to send email invitations to other members of your family. they must have their own google account and be 13 years or older.