How to Navigate YouTube’s Home Page When You’re Logged In

By Rob Ciampa, Theresa Moore, John Carucci, Stan Muller, Adam Wescott

The home page of YouTube is a fickle beast. It was once the fount of discovery for YouTube users. If you were looking for new content, the home page was the place to be. Over the years, though, YouTube changed the home page experience.

Many changes have been tied to the company’s desire to know its users. Users who are logged in with accounts and who have a history of using YouTube see videos that might appeal to them based on past usage. New users and those not logged in see the things that are currently most popular on the site.

As long as you’re logged in to YouTube when you watch videos, the site is busily keeping track of everything you see and trying to form an idea about what kind of videos you like. This information dynamically drives the home page you see, and YouTube tries to show you videos that it thinks you’ll like. Your home page will come to be dominated by material that is similar to material you’ve watched in the past.

Here’s a quick tour of what you’re likely to see when you log on after you create an account. Take a look to see how a YouTube home page looks when you log in, and then read the descriptions in the following list.

The logged‐in YouTube home page.

The logged‐in YouTube home page.

Along the top of the home page

  • The YouTube button: Though it looks exactly like the YouTube logo, this button actually does something in addition to looking pretty; clicking it always brings you back to the YouTube home page.

  • The Guide icon: This button, consisting of three horizontal bars with a small down arrow, sits next to the YouTube button. Clicking it brings up a guide of channels and topics that may be of interest to the viewer.

  • The Search box: This is where you search for videos. Enter keywords to find videos that may match what you’re looking for.

  • The Upload button: When you’re ready to upload a video, you get started by using this button.

  • The Notifications bell: As a YouTube channel manager, you can be notified when activity happens on your channel, including comments, video sharing, and more.

  • Channel icon: A round image button shows either the channel icon you come up with or an image associated with your Google ID when you’re logged in. Use this to get to Creator Studio, which is your YouTube ­“mission control center,” or to configure your YouTube account ­settings.

Down the left side of the home page

The menu functions running down the left side of the screen complement the functionality of the ones that run across the top and focus more on content. You can toggle what’s shown on the left side by ­clicking the Guide icon.

  • What to Watch: This option is selected by default when you arrive at the YouTube home page. When this section is selected, the main window of the site shows you lists of channels and videos that YouTube assumes you’ll like:

    • My Channel: Clicking this link brings up the home page of your YouTube channel and shows you how other viewers see it. My Channel includes channel art, video trailers, sections, and channels you recommend.

    • My Subscriptions: This is where you manage the channels you’re subscribed to. Subscriptions are a good way to keep track of the channels you like on YouTube, but the subscription model has changed a lot in the past couple of years.

    • History: Click here to review your YouTube history, which can be extensive. You can track which channels you’ve visited and which videos you’ve watched, and even see your comment history, all in one place.

    • Watch Later: This link leads to a list of videos you’ve flagged for later viewing using the creatively named Watch Later button in the YouTube player window.

  • Playlists: Playlists are a great way to organize videos you’ve discovered on YouTube. This section highlights some of your playlists and has a clickable link to your Playlist Management page. There, you can create and edit playlists for your own consumption, or you can use them to organize the videos on your channel.

  • Subscriptions: This section highlights some of your subscriptions and has a clickable link to your Subscription Management page. You learned earlier that subscriptions are a good way to keep track of the channels you like on YouTube.

  • Browse Channels: This link takes you to a page where YouTube makes suggestions of channels that may interest you based on your prior viewing habits.

    • Manage Subscriptions: Click to go to the Subscription Management page, where you can control how your subscriptions are organized and how you’re notified about activity on the channels to which you subscribe.

Advertisement on YouTube’s home page

Last but not least, the largest element on the YouTube landing page is a banner ad — sometimes with and sometimes without its own, embedded video. The ad is probably not what you came to YouTube to see, but ad revenue keeps the lights on and the video flowing.