Let's be honest: We all spend a fairly significant portion of our time online checking out videos of skateboarding accidents, kittens cuddling, and movie previews. So, if you’re going to spend your free time watching video clips on the Internet anyway, why not learn something at the same time? You can learn just about anything on the Internet these days, thanks to the broad availability of short, free, online video tutorials.
Want to learn how to walk in heels? There’s a video for that. Need to know how to switch out your graphics card? There’s a video for that. Heck, do you want to learn how to make a how-to video? There’s a video for that, too.
But be warned: Watching a 10-minute video tutorial doesn’t make you an expert, especially not in areas that require years and years of schooling. For example, just because you watched a quick tips video does not mean it’s a great idea for you to perform open-heart surgery. That said, video tutorials are great for picking up skills—assuming it’s something a little less intense, such as learning to play the guitar.
Become a tech guru
Not everyone is born knowing how to change their DNS servers, but there are plenty of geeks out there with webcams and YouTube accounts willing to lend a hand. For example, if you’ve got an older operating system, such as Windows Vista or Mac OS X Leopard, check out Woopid. Woopid has over 2300 video tutorials for older systems and programs, including Microsoft Office 2007; as well as for websites such as eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook; and for some phones and game consoles.
If you’re looking for something more up-to-date, YouTube is one of the best places to find videos of current tech tutorials. YouTube user ashishmohta has playlists of video tutorials for Windows 8 and Google Plus, as well as more general tips for Windows and Microsoft Office. BestTechChannel features video tutorial playlists for iOS 5 and Mac OS X Mountain Lion. And, of course, PCWorld’s YouTube channel hosts hands-on videos, reviews, and videos on topics ranging from how to install Ubuntu, to how to choose a gaming mouse, and how to buy a laptop.
Those who are looking for more advanced, specialized advice can go straight to the source. Adobe puts on its own AdobeTV channel, but you can also check out KelbyTV for Photoshop and Lightroom tips and tricks. Web designers and managers can head over to WordPressTV and Drupal Camp 24x7, or you can check out this lengthy list of web design tutorials from DesignShack.
Get in shape
The days of purchasing fitness DVDs from infomercials is over; thanks to the Internet, you can get tons of workout videos for free. The first place to go is YouTube, which hosts tons of free expert-produced workout videos. Diet.com’s YouTube feed features workouts and diet tips, while Expert Village has video playlists to help you get rock-hard abs and a toned tush, and Free Yoga Videos walks beginners through basic yoga poses. eHow has a series of lifting videos targeted at beginners.
If you manage to exhaust YouTube’s resources, head on over to fitness magazines’ websites for more targeted tutorials. Self Magazine has a video section dedicated to fitness, as does Shape Magazine, Men’s Health, and Muscle & Fitness. BodyBuilding.com also has an extensive fitness video library, though many of these videos are bodybuilding—not exercise—related.
Learn how to cook
You don’t have to put a TV in your kitchen to watch cooking shows, or to learn how to cook delicious, gourmet meals. Grab your laptop or tablet (don't forget to protect it from spills with a plastic bag or protector) and get cooking with free online cooking video tutorials.
Before you start cooking, you might want to learn some culinary basics. Head on over to About.com’s Culinary Arts page to learn everything from basic to gourmet kitchen prep. Here, you’ll find video tutorials that teach you how to sharpen knives, sauté vegetables, braise meat, and caramelize onions.
Once you’ve got your basics down, it’s time to start cooking. If you’re not sure what you want to make, The Basic Cookbook has a great video gallery that will have you drooling before you even open the fridge. Here you can learn how to make gourmet dishes, such as smoked salmon and fingerling potatoes or honey-roasted plums with thyme and whipped cream.
If you have at least a basic idea of what you want to make, check out FoodTube, the YouTube of food. FoodTube features cooking shows, restaurant reviews, and recipe tutorials. You can search for recipes by season, cuisine type, ingredients, meal type, and cooking style. Most of FoodTube’s videos are under 10 minutes long and professionally-produced. Check out this Valentine’s Day crème brulee, or this Shepherd’s Pie recipe.
Chefs-in-training can also head over to VideoJug, which has a variety of cooking videos sortable by season, cuisine type, meal type, cooking style, prep time, and diet. Learn how to make things like sushi rice, cupcake frosting, pizza dough, and beer-battered fish and chips.
Crafting: It’s not just a way to boost your experience points in an online role-playing game. Crafts can be a fun way to make gifts, preserve memories, and save money —that is, if you know what you’re doing. And you can learn what you’re doing by browsing—you guessed it—the Internet!
Where you want to look for free craft video tutorials depends on what types of crafts you’re interested in making. However, DIY Craft Videos is a good place to start no matter where your interests lie. DIY Craft Videos is a website that features free video tutorials for everything from scrapbooking and felting, to making t-shirts and jewelry. In other words, it covers much of what you’ll find at your local crafts store.
More focused crafters can find specific video tutorials to suit their needs. AllFreeSewing has over 50 video tutorials, including tutorials on how to hem a skirt, make a drawstring bag, and how to wind a bobbin. Hero Arts on YouTube features high-quality videos on how to scrapbook, while Knitting Help has a library of videos for beginning knitters.
VideoJug also has a huge library of crafting videos, including videos for woodworking, origami, glass painting, and pottery.
Learn to do just about anything
Okay, so maybe you don’t really want to get tech-savvy, get in shape, learn how to cook, or knit a table. Luckily, online video tutorials know no bounds—you can learn to do just about anything on the Internet these days.
YouTube remains one of the best sources for free online video tutorials—even magazines and websites that create their own video tutorials often host said tutorials on YouTube. Learn how to do your makeup, play Star Craft 2, do the Gangnam Style dance, and play guitar all via various YouTube channels.
YouTube’s main problem is that it’s not very easy to browse, especially if you’re looking for tutorials. If you just want to poke around and see what’s out there to learn (without having to click through lifecasts and music videos), it's probably easiest to check out a video tutorial website such as VideoJug, About.com’s video site, 5min, and eHow videos. These sites feature how-to videos for everything from counseling kids after the loss of a pet (eHow), to sharpening a router bit (5min), to building a brick wall (VideoJug). And the videos on these websites are professionally produced, unlike many of the videos on YouTube.
Go forth and be awesome
You can learn almost anything—literally anything—on the Internet these days with a 10 minute or less video tutorial. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should consider yourself an expert in, say, radiopharmaceuticals after you watch this video, nor should you rewire your entire home after watching this series of videos. But if you’re just looking to learn how to play an instrument, cook a delicious meal, or clean your house more effectively, free online video tutorials are the way to go.
This story, "Free online tutorials can teach you almost anything" was originally published by TechHive.