YouTube.com adds voice commands to search, navigate

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The last big update to YouTube on the web saw autoplay controls move inside the video player. YouTube.com is now gaining voice search for fast lookup and hands-free navigation commands.

To the right of the search field is a white/gray — depending on the theme — microphone icon. On initial use, youtube.com has to be granted the microphone permission. Afterwards, tapping overlays a box at the top of the screen that says “Listening…” and invites users to speak their query. If you’re currently playing a video, it will automatically be paused.


The microphone at the bottom of the screen can be tapped to temporarily disable or restart speech-to-text. This interface is identical to the voice search experience found on Android and iOS. A transcription of your query is shown before the page jumps to the search results page.

YouTube is smart enough to recognize natural language commands. For example, “show me videos of cats” will just search “videos of cats.” It’s a great addition for accessibility and as a hands-free leanback experience. 

This feature is not limited to just searching and can be used to navigate parts of the UI:


  • “Show me my subscriptions” or “What’s new from my subscriptions”
  • “Show my watch history”
  • ”Show me my library”

“Show me the latest videos from [channel]” also works to directly start playback, and is ideal for quickly starting music.

This feature joins the ability to search with your voice on Google.com, while dictation is available in Google Docs. On the web, voice in Google’s first-party apps is not as widely available as on Android.

As of today, YouTube voice commands are widely rolling out on the web for both signed-in and logged out users.

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