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How to upload a video to YouTube

As one of the most popular video streaming platforms online, if you want to have your vlog, comedy sketch, or music video seen by someone, getting it on YouTube is a must. Those new to the streaming scene may be wondering how to upload a video to YouTube. We show you in six easy steps.

Note: For this guide, we will assume that you’ve already made your YouTube/Google account. While those starting from scratch will need to do so, there are many elements involved in setup and customization that aren’t covered by this guide.

Step 1: Sign in to your account

How to upload a video to Youtube

Head to the YouTube homepage or YouTube Studio and click the Sign In link in the top right corner. If you have multiple accounts associated with the device you’re using, choose the appropriate one. Enter your password, and you’ll go back to the main YouTube page.

Things may look a little different in terms of video recommendations, but don’t fret — you’re now well on your way to uploading your first video.

Users of the YouTube mobile app should log into their accounts, and tap Profile Picture > Your Channel > Camera Icon > Select a Video to begin uploading.

Step 2: Click the upload button

Image of YouTube Upload Button
Daniel Martin/Screenshot

The next step is even shorter than the first. Click the Upload button — it’s located in the top right-hand corner represented by a camera with a plus sign — then select Upload Video. That will take you to a dedicated upload page, where you can choose where you source your upcoming viral sensation.

Image of YouTube Upload Video
Daniel Martin/Screenshot

Step 3: Choose video source and privacy settings

Image of YouTube Drag And Drop
Daniel Martin/Screenshot

The Select Files to Upload page lets you select the video file from your computer or drag-and-drop to upload them. Once you’ve uploaded your files, YouTube gives you a few different options to choose your video file from, and they’re all worth considering. For starters, you need to decide who you want to see your video and adjust the privacy settings accordingly.

If you wish for anyone and everyone to see it, choosing the Public option in the central drop-down is the way to go. If you want a little more control over who sees it, selecting Unlisted keeps it from being findable through searches. Instead, people will need to click the direct link or go to your channel.

If you’re just looking to keep the video privately for yourself or to store something for later unveiling, choose to make your video Private instead. The Scheduled option lets you select a later time and date for a video to become public.

Once you’ve made your decision about who can see your video, you need to select where you’re uploading it from. Do you want to import it directly from Google Photos (it’s better than iCloud)? Would you rather upload it straight from your device’s storage or livestream it instead?

There are specific options on the right-hand side for livestreaming and importing, but most will be doing so from their local device. For that, click the large white arrow with a gray backdrop in the center of the screen and pick the video you want to upload from your various files and folders.

Step 4: Managing the upload

Image of YouTube Upload Settings
Daniel Martin/Screenshot

Once you’ve confirmed the video you’re uploading, you’ll be whisked away to the upload page. You’ll see a progress bar at the top of the screen, letting you know how much of it has uploaded and how long until the upload is completed.

Depending on the length and quality of your video, that may take some time. While YouTube works its magic on it, you can begin getting it ready for prime time. Enter a title, description, and any relevant tags you feel it needs to help the general public find it. There’s also a button where you can add it to a playlist if you so wish, and you can inform viewers whether the video has any age restrictions.

For those wanting to go a little more in-depth with their video upload, the More Options tab lets you translate titles and descriptions for viewers around the world. Advanced Settings let you control various aspects such as the category and tags, video thumbnail, comments and ratings, location and date of filming, licensing and distribution, and if you want community contributions or not. If relevant, users can also change settings regarding paid promotions and monetization.

Those are all exciting aspects of uploading videos to YouTube and can help make your videos more inclusive and relevant to your audience. Still, they aren’t a necessity for merely getting a video online. It is worth noting that if you upload a video without including tags, an SEO-optimized title, or a detailed description of your video, it will have the same name as the original file and will not receive any optimization benefits.

Users can apply additional elements to their videos (such as cards and end screens to promote other creators), plug their own videos, or issue a call-to-action. Before finalizing the upload, you can also choose whether the video is public, private, or unlisted, which affects how easily people can find and view your content. If you want the video to be available on a particular date and time, you can schedule its release or just go public immediately.

Step 5: Video management

From this point on, your video is on YouTube and is publicly available — or not, depending on your preferences. If you want to make any changes to it in the future, all you need do is select your Channel Icon and click the YouTube Studio button.

Image of YouTube Studio Button
Daniel Martin/Screenshot

From there, check the box next to your video and select Edit. You’ll find a link for it in the drop-down when you click on your Account Portrait in the top right-hand corner. You’ll be able to see your videos, their number of views, and other analytics from your channel. You can then click any of the individual videos you want to edit or click on Videos on the left-hand side.

Image of YouTube Edit Uploads Menu
Daniel Martin/Screenshot

This gives you full access to any tools you might need, as well as overviews of each video you’ve uploaded in more detail.

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