In my involvement in the YouTube community I’m surprised how many questions about Private YouTube videos arise.
I thought this was a straightforward feature but on closer inspection I can see how people become confused.
In this video I’ll answer common questions and explain Private Videos and the options that surround them and will go into a bit more detail on each in the post below, as well as answering some more of your frequently asked questions.
A private video can be viewed by those that have been given permission by the uploader inside the video setting page for that particular video. It can not be found in search results, will not come up as a Suggested Video and subscribers will not be notified that it has been published.
An Unlisted video is available to anyone with the video URL. So ANYONE can watch the video if they get the link from somewhere but it’s not discoverable by other means such as Search, Suggested Videos and will not appear in Subscriber’s feeds.
Unlisted videos can however be embedded.
My advice would be to only make a video Unlisted if you’re happy with anyone seeing it because the link can be shared as easily as a Public video. If there’s sensitive material in the video always play safe and make it Private.
To make a video private on YouTube just takes a couple of seconds and takes effect immediately.
Navigate to Creator Studio>Video Manager> Find the video you wish to make private (or Public or Unlisted) > Edit > Info and Settings > and then on the Basic Settings tab you can select the status of the video from the dropdown on the right before hitting Save:
Once you’ve set your video to Private on that same edit page there’s a box where you can add the email addresses of people you wish to see the video.
Enter the addresses separated by a comma and hit OK > Share. They will then be emailed a link through which they can view the video (see answer 4 for more details on this process).
As this system is powered by Google+ you can add Circles to the permission list before saving it and everyone in that circle will receive the viewing link. **Update 2016** Since YouTube has now been separated from Google+ once again this feature is no longer an option so you will need to input each individual email of a group.
Luckily this share box now links to your Gmail contacts so there are some auto fill options that will become available to speed things up a little.
The Private Video function on YouTube is far from perfect and there are a few things you need to know to avoid trouble.
Even if someone has been given permission, the only way they can watch the video is through the link in the email they’ve been sent so sending them just the link won’t work.
To give someone the best chance of actually receiving the email, follow these steps:
- Try and make sure the recipient is using a Gmail based address. This shouldn’t be necessary but in reality it helps.
- If the viewer is using the Tabbed Gmail layout tell them to check their Social tab for the notification.
- The notification will be sent from email@example.com so get them to add this address to their contacts to avoid it going into spam.
Simple answer - You Can’t. Unless you have permission from the uploader
The channel manager has set the video to Private for a reason and doesn’t want you to see it. YouTube has made it impossible to bypass the Private Video function and rightly so.
If you think you’ve been given the permission but it’s still not working contact the uploader or see point 4.
Yes it can and it will.
I see many beginners posting this question because they’ve received a copyright strike against a Private Video and don’t know how or why this can happen.
Manual takedowns/disputes by copyright holders make up only a tiny fraction of copyright claims and the majority are undertaken by YouTube’s automated system called Content ID.
Automated being the key word here.
The system scans all uploads, Public, Private and Unlisted to compare against reference files, so just because a video is not viewable by humans doesn’t make it invisible to Content ID.
As always I suggest staying squeaky clean and only uploading content you have 100% exclusive rights to, have express permission to use or are certain that you’re complying to appropriate fair use laws.
Since I first published this list back in 2014 I have had a number of new question asked in the comments so I have included those answers here:
There are a number of companies that offer private video hosting for a fee and one that claims to have limited privacy options on their free account too.
However up until this point I have had no real use for a private video host and so am unable to give a recommendation because I only recommend the tools that I use myself.
However because of the amount of times I get asked about alternative platforms for private Videos, especially those that can be embedded and locked to a specific URL that I need to look into this further on your behalf. So I am about to put the leading private video hosts through their paces and will report back to you my objective opinion on which is best and has the best private sharing features.
If you’d like to know as soon as this report is ready pop your email in the box below to get notified:
The previous people you shared this with won’t receive any kind of update.
All you are doing is sending the new recipients the viewing link.
These are usually videos that were previously public but have recently been turned private.
They are still showing in Search but will soon be removed, as by default private videos are de-indexed from search and suggested videos.
You are also quite likely to find private videos in Playlists as they were added when they were public, switched over to private but never removed from the playlist. So remember if you make any video private make sure to remove it from your YouTube Playlists so as not to upset your viewers.
Yes you can still get the full analytics suite from private videos but it is likely that views and therefore data will be very limited.
If any further questions come up regarding Private videos I’ll add them to this list, so keep them coming on the comments below.
I hope that this page acts as a complete resource on Private YouTube videos and is somewhere you can visit or send people to if you see them posing these common questions.
If you’d like to know when I finish my report on alternative options for hosting private video sign up to be notified below.