You Can Use AI to Summarize YouTube Videos and Boring Emails

You Can Use AI to Summarize YouTube Videos and Boring Emails

As it stands, AI is not a reliable source of information. But while AI bots like ChatGPT are known to hallucinate and offer false information, there is one task where it truly excels: summarizing.

That advantage comes as a result of how large language models (LLMs) work: They’re trained to compress huge amounts of data and to guess what the best parts are. There are many tools available right now that can help you summarize everything from YouTube videos to emails. And, of course, you can easily summarize long articles or heavy PDF documents through tools like Wordtune Read.

Automatically summarize YouTube videos

I love watching long-winded YouTube explainer videos as much as the next guy, but I’ve also enjoyed using the Glairty extension to convert those videos into quick explainers. Once you install and activate the extension, it will automatically create a summary of a YouTube video by copying the entire transcript and running it through ChatGPT, assuming the video has a reliable transcript to work from.

The processing happens in the background, but requires some setup. You’ll need to log into the OpenAI website first, and you might need to authenticate your login periodically. If you find that too annoying, I suggest you sign up for OpenAI’s “Pay as you go” account to get a set of API keys. Set a $7 per month limit and add the API to Glarity settings, then you won’t have to deal with annoying login prompts.

As mentioned, Glarity isn’t going to work for all videos. ChatGPT itself has a 5,000-word limit, so there’s no way you’re getting a summary of a four-hour-long YouTube breakdown. I’ve found it works best for explainer videos between 5–15 minutes long. For example, I got a pretty accurate summary of why it’s not a great idea to buy a new car right now, and it saved me six minutes of watch time.

By default, Glarity provides short summaries, but you can customise the response by going to the extension settings. You can ask it to give you bullet points, a general gist, or a detailed summary by editing the prompt.

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak
Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

If you want to use the ChatGPT interface (which lets you save conversations and ask follow-up questions), try out the YouTube Summary with ChatGPT extension by Glasp. It takes a manual approach to the whole YouTube summary thing.

After opening the video, click the new OpenAI button that appears. This will open ChatGPT in a new tab, and the command and transcript will be pasted in the text box. Click the text area, then press Send, and you’ll instantly see a detailed summary. In my experience, Glasp generates a more detailed summary by default than Glarity. And, of course, you can tweak the command before sending it off, such as asking it to summarize the transcript in only a couple of sentences.

Summarize long emails you never planned to read anyway

Screenshot: Shortwave
Screenshot: Shortwave

If AI can help us get closer to inbox zero, this whole humanity-shifting endeavour will be worth it. It’s already starting to happen: Google is still far from bringing any meaningful AI features to Gmail, but Shortwave is there right now.

Shortwave is a Google Inbox-inspired app that’s even better than Gmail on the web. They’ve added one-click AI summaries using ChatGPT, which works in both mobile apps as well as browsers. In your browser, simply click the Summary button from the top toolbar to generate a short summary of any email. This feature is available for free while it’s in the beta period.

While Shortwave is great at generating accurate summaries of long or boring emails, we suggest you don’t use this with anything particularly important, especially work messages. This is, after all, a generative language model, and it can sometimes gloss over things that might be truly important.

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