Video-sharing phenomenon YouTube is no longer simply the destination for quirky clips. Make the most-hyped website of 2006 your most useful tool in 2007.

This article appears in the February 07 issue of PC Advisor, onsale now in all good newsagents.

The chances are, you've been using YouTube incorrectly. Not the way its founders originally envisaged, anyway. But you're not alone. Millions of people use it as an alternative to normal TV by catching up with the Jonathan Ross interview they missed, or watching a segment of Ricky Gervais' stand-up routine online to avoid paying for the DVD.

YouTube has become a time-shifting masterpiece, allowing people to watch at least portions of certain programmes when they want to for free. And it has no concern for borders, either – after reading in British newspapers about Bill Clinton's outburst on Fox News, people went straight on to YouTube to see the clip in all its glory. Online video becoming a viable alternative to TV, and has helped force traditional TV broadcasters to push their content via the web.

Although it brings in lots of traffic, the availability of all that copyright material on YouTube is a major headache for the company's new owner, Google. Behind-the-scenes meetings with content owners continue, with the search giant battling to avoid lawsuits from those that don't want their creations available for free online. YouTube cost Google $1.6bn, but the lawsuits could cost more, turning this little minefield into a potential corporate calamity.

But this wasn't the way it was meant to be. YouTube started two years ago as a personal video-sharing service for the humble end user. Part of its mission statement is to engage internet users in new ways by allowing them to share their own clips, view other people's and become part of a community by adding and responding to comments.

So in this month's magazine, we're taking a different slant on the YouTube coverage you've seen in other publications. Rather than looking at the thousands of clips that range from the quirky to the downright strange, we reveal the YouTube content that might just stir your creative juices. Then, if you feel it's time you joined the internet's fastest-growing community, why not get involved yourself? Our tutorials show you how to turn a few basic video clips on your digital camera into an edited video fit for distribution online.

If you don't want the world to see your creation, you can restrict access to your family and friends – put together an edited video of a wedding, for example, and then use the YouTube feature that allows you to control who sees it. Even if you don't want to become an online video star, this feature is the perfect companion for anyone who wants to take the next step with their camera.

See the future

YouTube is sure to be one of the buzzwords of 2007, but what's going to demand our attention further down the line? Elsewhere in this issue, we look forward five years with a feature predicting the future of your PC. We've talked to all of the world's top IT suppliers to see just how they think the PC's shape, components and performance will change in the long term. The good news is that the development labs of these innovators already house multiple-core processors that put Intel's quad-core chips to shame, screens you'll finally be proud to place in your living room and enough storage to hold all of your entertainment content on one device. The bad news is, you'll have to wait to buy them.