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6 tips and tricks to help you get the most out of YouTube Music

YouTube Music is making a comeback — albeit a bit slowly — and while no service is ever perfect, there's a lot to like in YouTube Music. There's also a lot to loathe, such as bugs in the UI, incomplete features, and lacking library management. YouTube Music is quite usable and quite good at offering up music that'll keep you rocking, but there's a few things you can do to improve your experience.

Learn to hit pause

The pause button is perhaps the most important button in a music app, but the most important pause button in YouTube Music isn't on the playback screen: it's in the Privacy & location settings. Before you sit down to search for hundreds of songs and build up your library, before you get ready to let YouTube Music DJ your party for you, before you hand it over to your kid to let them pick the music, pause your YouTube history.

Pause your history

The toggles in Privacy & location allow you to hit pause on your Youtube histories —search history and/or watch history — and during pause, nothing is added to your history, searched aren't saved, and the only music that is added into the matrix for your recommendations are the song you thumbs up, thumbs down, or add to your library.

Pausing while library building is especially important because it means that if you listen to multiple videos looking for a particular remix or cover you prefer, the rejects don't get into your history or recommendations. You also listen to far more music when building your library, and without history paused, it can make your watch history for that day ridiculously long to sift through.

Get your mixtapes together

Sometimes you just want your music app to pick the music for you. Spotify's Made for You mixes exemplify how amazing algorithmic stations can be when done right, and on YouTube Music, there are two mixtapes you absolutely need to check out:

Rate songs in Mixtape in bulk

Your mixtape is an endless radio station that's built based on your tastes and history. Your mixtape may stumble a few times when you're first using YouTube Music, but keep thumbing songs up and down. If you can, play Your mixtape on YouTube Music's desktop site so that you can thumbs up songs or remove them from the queue before you get to them in the play order.

Offline mixtape is a more direct comparison to Spotify's Daily Mixes — a mix based on your library and is refreshed every 24 hours based on what you listened to yesterday — but it has two distinct differences. Offline mixtape has a limit of 100 songs, and as the name implies, it is available offline.

The first time you enter the Downloads section of YouTube Music, you'll be asked to Turn on your Offline mixtape. Do it immediately. This will not only give you a reliable mix to listen to while on the go, it is the easiest way to start up a shuffle offline, since YouTube Music lacks Google Play Music's "Shuffle All" option and "Downloaded only" mode. It can be set between 1-100 songs, and the larger it is, the longer you can jam out offline.

SD cards, learn to monitor your storage usage yourself

YouTube Music has made downloads easier than ever for YouTube Music Premium — yes, you need Premium for downloads — with one very noticeable exception. If you've got a phone with a microSD card, like a Samsung Galaxy S9, you can download albums, playlists, songs, and Offline Mixtape just fine.

Downloads are kinda odd

But when you go into Download settings, the app will say you're using 0MB, even if you're got gigabytes of data saved.

YouTube Music doesn't allow you to choose which storage you use for downloads — the main YouTube app does — but it seems to defaulting to expandable storage. The Storage shown in Download settings is set to the internal storage, and since YouTube Music isn't using internal storage, it's showing 0MB used.

Going to YouTube Music's app information doesn't show how much data your downloads are taking up, either. If you want to see how much you've downloaded, you'll have to pull out a file manager app and go hunt it down yourself. Go to SD Card/Android/data and long-press com.google.android.apps.youtube.music. Open the folder's Properties or Details and you'll see the Size of the folder, giving you the amount of data used by YouTube Music's offline downloads and cache.

Find albums through song search results

YouTube Music is a brand-new service to most users, and as such, most of us are still building up our libraries. In the process of building up my library, I came across an odd but frequent issue: I'd search for an album, and it wouldn't show up in Album search results. However, songs from that album would be in the search results, so I knew the album was there somewhere.

It's a bug, to be sure — one I hope YouTube Music fixes posthaste — but if it happens to you, here's what to do:

  1. Tap songs in the category carousel under the search bar.
  2. If you see a song from the album you want, tap the three-dot icon to the right of the song.

  1. Swipe up on the song menu that appears to reveal all of the options.
  2. Tap Go to Album.

You'll be taken to the full album listing, where you can add song to library, download the album, and add the album to your library. I'd hold off a moment before adding that album to your library, though.

Be picky when adding albums

If you're starting out in YouTube Music, you've got to fill up your library so that you have something to listen to and YouTube has something to base its recommendations on. You're going to be tempted to do what you do in other music apps and just start adding albums left and right to your library. Fight this urge.

There's something me back

Every album you add to your library gets added to your Saved playlists in the main YouTube app. If you go album-crazy, your playlists list in YouTube will rapidly get unmanageable. Be picky about what albums you add:

  • Don't add any Singles albums to your library. Just add the single to Liked songs and move on.
  • If you like half the album or less, just add those 4-6 songs to Liked songs or a playlist.
  • If you listen to an album in order or on shuffle with any regularity, add the album to your library.

Use Bluetooth instead of Casting

I cast music every day from Google Play Music to my Google Home. I am an ardent fan of the music controls you have when casting music to Google Home. If you want to use YouTube Music with your Google Home, set it as your primary music provider and call up a particular song or station, but I wouldn't recommend casting with YouTube Music.

Casting makes me wanna croon

Shuffle and repeat vanish from your YouTube Music queue controls while casting. Play order can also shift, especially if you've been tweaking a station using "Play Next" and "Add to Queue". In short, casting with YouTube Music is unreliable, and you should highly consider using Bluetooth instead of Casting when you want to pump YouTube Music into bigger, better speakers.

Oh, and if you're a YouTube Music Free user, you can only cast to Chromecasts with screens anyway, since Background Playback is a YouTube Music Premium feature. The only way you're using YouTube Music for free on a Google Home is via Bluetooth.

Your turn

YouTube Music is still hiding more secrets

What quirks in YouTube Music have you figured out? Do you have a secret trick to getting YouTube's recommendations dialed in without giving it a deluge of thumbs up and down? Do you have any tips for building a playlist better, stronger, and faster? Share them with us in the comments!

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

31 Comments
  • Still waiting for my invite! Does it have Android Auto integration?
  • Not that I have seen so far. Between that, and a lack of access to my huge library I'm really hoping they don't shut down Google play music anytime soon 😩
  • YouTube Music is SO, SO far from even beginning to migrate GPM features and users over. Google is not going to leave users high and dry. Google Play Music is still a key part of Google Play because it is where people listen to and download any music they purchase. It. Is. Not. Going. Anywhere. Anytime. Soon. But no, Android Auto is not integrated yet. If you were already listening when you got in the car, you might be able to pause/play/next from Android Auto, but the second you stop listening outside the Music screen, the YTM notification will vanish and GPM will pop up instead.
  • From your lips to the make pretend invisible mans (Gods) ears. unfortunately, unlike you, I have ZERO faith in anything google says or promises these past few years. they are clearly lost and just throwing **** against the wall to see what, if anything will stick.
    Google play music is history, the writing on the wall started two years ago when video results turned up in google play music search results. Not only did they show up. But to this day, they show up almost instantly and first on the list. LONG before any of your uploaded music ever will
  • I have nowhere near as much faith as you do! Google have a habit of just killing services/apps they've lost interest in and I don't put it past them to do it here!
  • Maybe someday I'll actually have the update and can put this wisdom to use.
  • Right? All of these articles feel so off-the-mark. It's not even released yet aside from a few blog/news sites with no actual real-world ETA. They missed their May 22nd launch and I see nothing but articles popping up about this. We don't even have access to this yet, I'd rather see this article when it is actually relevant :/
  • "Early Access" to the new YouTube Music launched May 22nd, and while YouTube could have done a much better job of communicating that, access has been trickling out. Slowly. YouTube Music is a currently an early-access beta, and while it is still rolling out to everyone, getting the articles up now means that when people do get the updates, they'll be able to find this information when they look for it.
  • Use an iphone like almost all google employees do. If you did, you would have had this half baked update many days ago!
  • Thanks for the tip about bluetooth to Google Home
  • Yeah, I'm a big Chromecast audio user and YTM has made that all but impossible right now.
  • YouTube music is a dumpster fire.
    But some people actually like it.
  • It keeps them warm.
  • They will have to pry google play music from my cold, dead hands...
  • They'll send someone.
  • Well, paying for it and still haven't gotten the damn update. Whatever. About ready to cancel.
  • I never got an update, but found the features were showing up. It's just a little lacking in features.
  • So is Tidal on the way out, or is it still viable and worth getting for the quality?
  • I'm not sure I understand the part about SD CARDS. As a Note 8 user, can I choose to save my downloaded music on my SD CARD or will the download default to the phone internal storage?
  • It's downloading to SD, but it doesn't tell you that it's doing that.
  • My question is: Why is the library so limited? Just in 20 minutes I found the following albums that are available on Google music but that are not available on YouTube Music: The Beatles: The entire catalogue
    Courtney Barnett: Tell me how you really feel
    Parquet Courts: Wide awake
    Car Seat Headrest: Teens of denial
    Neutral Milk Hotel: In an aeroplane over the sea
    Goldmund: Occasus What's the deal with that? Is the library still being filled out? Will it always be limited like this? Why is it so different than GPM (and Spotify)? This service can't succeed without a competitive library.
  • Great taste in music
  • Couldn't read the rest of your article, after reading the part about "Pause" and your comment on the slow rollout. I'm assuming you're aware that it's available for ALL to download on iOS and has been since launch day?
    If you mentioned it great. If you didn't, shame on you. Google has been designing for iOS first and foremost for several years and
    Google's lemmings, just accept it. Now to the pause tip. When you do this, ALL YouTube activity is paused. Not just the activity from this half assed, alpha level app.
    I don't know about you, but I want my YouTube history in the YouTube app. Though, I could care less about it in this app.
    If this was a music app and not a video app, that history should go to Google play music. Not YouTube.
    The fact that it still doesn't and never has synced in anyway with Google play music, speaks volumes about Google's alleged technical prowess and their understanding of music apps! The two apps, (the "Not New" YouTube music and YouTube ) are technically one in the same. Which is a huge problem. I WATCH a lot of musical instrument, instructional videos on YouTube. These have nothing to do with music I want to LISTEN to. I also WATCH a lot of self uploaded, send shot, non professional videos from everyday people performing a song I may like. That doesn't mean I like them or want to see their other stuff. (If I do, I'll find it and WATCH it.
    Yet this half baked app builds playlist and recommendations , primarily around them.
    Not my Google play music listing, uploaded, added, liked etc history! This app is D.O.A!
    Google is notorious for releasing half assed Beta apps with promises of bug fixes, added features, improvements etc down the road and you and the rest of the tech world "press" fall for it Everytime! Let's not forget, this app has been around for about two years, it sucked and was, redundant at best at introduction. And Nothing has changed since. Including this "reimagined" update. If they couldn't, simply improve Google play music in all these years. Or, in the case of this embarrassment of an app, Totally start from scratch and release a fully functional app. One, Not missing so many features of Google play music. What makes you think and believe they will in the future? This app is just another "Social" chasing adventure from the fine minds at Google. After being burned on Google+ and totally missing the boat on every other "Flavor of the week" social app that came before and after it.
    They are still hell bent on chasing the elusive, attention span of a gnat on ridalin, Teen, Tween, twenty something crowd. None of which care about music or anything except this year's Social app and taking selfies.
    Which is what will be introduced to this app long before any of the rumored "promised" fixes and updates.
    I guarantee you Google will, if they don't already, add location tracking to this app, some type of childish emojis and if course an equally childish way to add your photos into the app and share it everywhere!
    You can take that to the bank. And they say, this app is going to replace GPM in the future = LMFAO!
  • The new YouTube Music is a server-side rollout, there is no Android app update for it. That's also why people can't just open music.youtube.com and get access to the new desktop site. Yes, pausing your history pauses all of your history, which is why I said to pause it during event that can pollute your history and your recommendations, such as searching for a ton of new music to add or using it to take music requests while hosting a party. Considering how drastically different it sounds like your YouTube versus music habits are, have you considered creating a second channel on your account: one for your normal YouTube instructional/amateur video watching and a second channel that you can use to keep your YouTube Music activity and library is so as to avoid cross-contamination? It's not a perfect solution, but it's certainly an easy one to implement right now since the large majority of YouTube Music users hadn't used it before this month. Google Play Music is not connected to YouTube Music at this time, so no, nothing in YTM is based around that library since it can't see it yet and probably won't for months. Disparagement of younger users aside, what in YouTube Music makes you think it's social? You can't see other users activity, you can't even see regular YouTube channels or profiles. Location is the first permission the app asks you after logging into the new version, and it does that because it's a necessity of their device authorization protocol. You can pause location and activity recommendations on the same settings page as managing your watch and search history. And Google Play Music isn't going to be replaced in the next 18 months, at least. Have a magical day.
  • "Yes, pausing your history pauses all of your history, which is why I said to pause it during event that can pollute your history and your recommendations, such as searching for a ton of new music to add or using it to take music requests while hosting a party." Just what iI need, Another step / task to remember and perform , every time I want to "LISTEN" to music - No thanks! "have you considered creating a second channel on your account: one for your normal YouTube instructional/amateur video watching and a second channel that you can use to keep your YouTube Music activity and library is so as to avoid cross-contamination? It's not a perfect solution," Yes, it's not perfect or going to happen! Again, another task, step to perform. I WATCH youtube on many different devices during the day. My Phone. My tablet, My PC, MY FiOS set top box. I don't need to have to remember to switch accounts constantly. "Google Play Music is not connected to YouTube Music at this time, so no, nothing in YTM is based around that library since it can't see it yet and probably won't for months." And there in lies the problem!. But you are assuming it will one day. Google has a way of Breaking things or implementing them poorly , if at all. "Disparagement of younger users aside, what in YouTube Music makes you think it's social? You can't see other users activity, you can't even see regular YouTube channels or profiles." the key word being YET. But Lets see, Location Tracking for (Location themed playlists, Seriously?), Curated crap, which they , of course will track and ... Of course eventually tie into some childish feature like all the childish crap they bloated google maps with AKA checking in, show friends locations, upload
    photos etc.... "Location is the first permission the app asks you after logging into the new version, " ......... "And Google Play Music isn't going to be replaced in the next 18 months, at least." Lets be 100% clear. you have NO knowledge when or even if it will be replaced. All you have is tweets, rumors, wishful thinking etc.
    But, The fact that Google has "Publicly" said, this worthless and childish "Re-imagining" of a Long (two years) ignored by all app will replace google music. is the reason Every Google play music user is pissed. We dont want a replacement.
    Fix all that is broken in GPM and rename it if you must.
    but other than that - Leave it the "F" alone If i want to WATCH Videos - music or otherwise i Have Youtube - Simple, efficient and it works.
    On the other hand, when i want to LISTEN to Music, I have GPM.
    The two Must remain separate.
    It's bad enough Videos show in my GPM music searched, First and way before my own music does. But i will live with that and continue to Pay and use GPM if it stays as is,Bug fixes though are desperately needed in that Bloated , painfully slow app! I rest my case!
  • I like it but to big annoying issues. No pinch to zoom and no way to permanently turn CC off.
  • Pinch to zoom? Pinch to zoom what? As for captioning, there's a setting in YouTube Music that takes you to the Google Subtitles screen in the Settings app.
  • Any comments about the library, Ara? See my comment above. I am excited about the new direction but if the library of official music is going to be limited like this it's a non starter. Do you know anything about what the problem might be?
  • It would be wise for Google to plan shutting down GPM only once they have a third $h¡tty app ready to replace the very $h¡tty-sounding YouTube Music "service".
  • Yikes, all in all it sounds pretty atrocious just now, esp with no offline shuffle for downloaded songs and the way added albums fill up your YouTube lists. Think I'll stay with GPM for now until they sort things or force migration - can't see any upsides so far, all looks like downsides!
  • I am hugely disappointed to learn that Google Play Music is going to get absorbed into YouTube Music. I am most worried about the 18,000+ audio tracks I have in my Google music locker that I can play back or download for FREE on my various devices through the web browser - two Macs and a Chromebook + my Android phone. The key here is Free access to all I have now and into the future. I do not subscribe to any paid music service. I just like the free Google Play Music locker. I hope that continues in You Tube and we are not forced to pay. I hate renting music.