You might have heard the term “digital native.” These are the people in your life who grew up using computers and seem totally at ease with them. For those who didn’t learn to use a mouse at age four, computer knowledge can be intimidating. But if you have access to the Internet, you can find online resources for learning computer skills – including how-to videos.
YouTube is a great resource in this regard; it has more instructional videos than you could watch in a lifetime, and they’re all free. The trick is finding one to fit your needs.
Here, we’ll cover how to find computer videos on YouTube. (Skip this and scroll down to watch a few of our favorites if you already know how to use YouTube.) An added benefit is that by seeking out online resources, you can learn new skills and get more comfortable with your computer at the same time. And let’s face it: That’s often half the battle.
How to Use YouTube
YouTube is a website that allows people to upload and share videos. And there a lot of videos: About 72 hours of new video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. What this means is that no matter what you want to learn, the chances are good that someone’s published a video that can help.
Here are some step-by-step instructions to find what you’re looking for.
Step 1: Search for what you want
YouTube is owned by the search engine Google, so it’s set up to make finding things relatively easy for users – if you know how to search.
First, go to YouTube (when you’re ready to try, click here.)
Using the search bar at the top, be as specific as you can in asking for what you want.
Let’s say you want to start by learning some basic computer terminology. In that case, entering “computer terms” or “basic computer terminology” into the search box and hitting “Enter” should do the trick. Choose the simplest, most accurate terms to describe what you’re looking for. If you don’t get what you want with one set of search terms, come up with another.
Step 2: Filter the results
The search we did above produced 11 million results. Yikes! Fortunately, YouTube tries to put what it thinks are the most relevant results at the top. The best way to determine which videos might be worth watching is to filter the results. You can do this by using the “Filter” button on the top left-hand side of the screen.
If you click in this button, you’ll get a list of options. The best ones to use here can be found under relevance.
In this case, good ways to find the best videos in the bunch are by:
- “View Count” – sorts based on the number of people who’ve watched the video. The more people who’ve watched, the more the video has been shared, which generally indicates higher quality
- “Rating” – sorts by how users have rated the video. Really poor videos tend to have lower ratings as well as view counts, while the best videos will rank highly for both.
As you can see, you can also sort by many other parameters, which you may or may not find helpful depending on your search.
You might also notice that the top one or two results don’t really match with the search criteria. Those are advertisements, and are labeled as such on the right. Nothing bad will happen if you click on them, but they are less likely to address what you were searching for. Ads like this are what allows a service like YouTube to be offered for free.
Step 3: Start watching
The only really sure-fire way to know if a video includes what you want is to start watching. One thing to note, however, is that some YouTube videos include what are called “pre-roll ads.” These are essentially TV commercials that run before the video starts. Fortunately, they are typically less than 30 seconds long and often offer you the option to skip to the video after a few seconds of ad.
This page from a Windows tutorial shows a pre-roll advertisement. The text on the left tells you it’s an ad. The box on the right will count down how many seconds of the ad you’ll have to watch before a link appears that will allow you to skip the rest of the ad.
Once the “Skip Ad” message appears, click it to skip to the start of the video.
A Few Great YouTube Videos for Computer Basics
Many of the best computer how-to videos come in a series. If the videos below don’t address your needs, check out others by the same providers.
- How to Use the Internet by LiteCast Studios
A very basic tutorial on all the basics you need to surf the Net. This is a great starting point for true beginners. You can check out lots of other how-to videos from this user by clicking here.
- Gmail Tutorial for Beginners by Anson Alexander
This tutorial is helpful for those who have set up a Gmail account and aren’t sure about all the things it can do.
- Word 2010: Creating Documents by GCFLearnFree.org
This provides a basic look at how to get started with Microsoft’s most used – and most useful – software, Microsoft Word.
- iPad User Guide: The Basics by Zollotech
Thinking about getting an iPad and need some beginner tips on how to use it?This video provides a very basic intro.You can find more iPad how-to videos from Zollotech by clicking here.
- Computer Basics: Setting Up a Desktop Computer by GCFLearnFree.org
This simple video shows the basics of how to put together a new computer system. GCFLearFree has a whole list of other great videos for beginners – you can see it by clicking here.