How YouTube Works

YouTube Channels

Channel pages, like this HowStuffWorks one, include information about the channel's owner and all of his or her uploaded videos.

When you become a YouTube member, YouTube assigns a personal channel to you. The channel has divisions designed to display a short personal description, thumbnails of videos you've uploaded, members to whom you've subscribed, videos from other members you've picked as favorites, lists of members who are your friends and subscribers and a section where other people can comment on your channel.

You can visit another member's personal channel by clicking on his or her user name. Here, you can view all of the YouTuber's videos as well as all the videos he or she picked as favorites. You can even see the other members to whom the YouTuber has subscribed. Personal channels let you explore YouTube as a social network rather than as a simple video database -- you can find users who like the same kinds of videos you do and find out what they are watching.


When you first create an account, your personal channel is a digital wasteland -- all the sections are empty. Fortunately, YouTube makes it easy to turn your personal channel into an attractive virtual destination. After filling in your profile information, you can adjust your personal channel's color scheme. You can pick one of YouTube's suggested color schemes or create your own using hexadecimal color values.

Using a simple menu, you can change the layout of your personal channel. You can choose to display or hide sections, and you can choose whether they appear on the left or right side of the Web page. These options let you make your channel unique.

Once you've set up your channel, it's time to fill those empty fields. Explore the site and look for videos you really enjoy. You can watch videos and click on the favorite link to add the video into your personal channel's "favorites" section. You can subscribe to the person who uploaded the video to keep up with his or her uploads -- a screenshot of the member's latest video will appear in your personal channel's "subscriptions" section. When you upload a video of your own, it will appear in the top right section of your channel (unless you've changed the layout options). As you upload more videos, you'll fill the "videos" section in your personal channel, and the latest clip will feature in the upper right side of your profile.

YouTube is all about sharing. In the next section, we'll look a little closer at the YouTube community, the people who post and their videos.