May 20, 2024

How to create YouTube Shorts from existing video: A beginner’s guide

Learn how to create YouTube Shorts from existing videos. Unlock tips and tricks for repurposing content effectively.
May 20, 2024

How to create YouTube Shorts from existing video: A beginner’s guide

Learn how to create YouTube Shorts from existing videos. Unlock tips and tricks for repurposing content effectively.
May 20, 2024
Elise Dopson
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What type of content do you primarily create?

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Transcriptions
Start editing audio & video
This makes the editing process so much faster. I wish I knew about Descript a year ago.
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What type of content do you primarily create?

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Transcriptions

Short-form video content is dominating social media. TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook have all announced new features that encourage users to create short videos on their social media platforms. Even YouTube, the search engine/social media hybrid, is getting in on the action. 

YouTube Shorts is the platform’s way of allowing creators to post shorter clips on YouTube. They’re limited to 60 seconds in length, are vertical (instead of horizontal), and appear in the Shorts feed—a never-ending carousel of videos posted by other creators. 

While it might feel like yet another platform demanding even more new content, the reality is: you can create YouTube Shorts from the videos you’ve already produced. This step-by-step guide shares how to do it, complete with bonus tips on repurposing clips to produce content that attracts and engages your target audience. 

Why turn YouTube videos into Shorts?

Reach a wider audience

There’s one key difference between traditional YouTube videos and Shorts: the people who watch traditional long-form videos likely search for them, but when they head to Shorts, they’re relying on the algorithm to show videos they’d be interested in—without any prompts in the form of a YouTube search. 

This gives you a shot at reaching new audiences who aren’t actively looking for what you provide, but could be swayed in the direction of your business’s YouTube channel.

Get more mileage from your content

You’ve already put the hard work into creating a YouTube video. Repurposing what you already have prevents you from starting the entire process all over again to produce new content. You’re just clipping the video you’ve already made and have a bunch of new footage to share on YouTube. 

🎙 Repurposing a podcast? Here's how to optimize your podcast for YouTube 

Repurpose your video clips 

While you can use YouTube’s repurposing feature to turn videos into YouTube Shorts, you don’t have to limit your video clip to the platform. Choose a different tool (such as Descript’s video editor) to save the snippet. From there, you can upload it to other social media platforms where short-form videos thrive, such as TikTok, Instagram Reels, or Facebook. 

Just like that, you’ve got enough content to power your social media accounts for a few weeks—all from a single YouTube video. 

How to make a YouTube Short from an existing video on mobile

Step 1. Create and upload your video

The first step is to produce your video and upload it to your YouTube channel. The best videos have a strong hook, focus on a topic that your target audience is interested in, and are easy to follow. A good script—which can simply be a list of talking points—is a great tool to have at this stage.

Use a professional video editor to add the final touches to your YouTube video, such as captions and subtitles, transitions, overlays, or special effects. When you’re happy, head to the YouTube homepage, sign into YouTube Studio, and upload the video to your channel. 

Step 2. Find the existing video

Now that your video has been uploaded, go to your YouTube channel and open the video player. Bear in mind that you can only create a Short from an existing video using your smartphone (such as an Android or iPhone) or iPad—not a desktop. For instructions on how to do this with a desktop, scroll down to the next section.

Step 3. Choose Create or Remix

Once you’ve located your video in the YouTube mobile app, choose the Remix button. This may appear as a Create button, depending on the device and YouTube app you’re using. From here, select Edit into a Short.

User creating a YouTube Short from YouTube dashboard


Step 4. Trim and edit your video clip

YouTube will now open its Shorts editor. Use the sliders to define which section of the video you want to repurpose, then add stickers, captions, or transitions to the new clip. 

You can also use this video editing tool to shoot or import new footage. If you’re trimming a YouTube video about skincare and want to laser focus on a specific step in your Short, for example, you could add B-roll footage to show yourself applying your favorite face cream. 

Step 5. Upload it as a YouTube Short

When you’re happy with your clip, press Publish to upload it as a YouTube Short. Any clips made using this method will link back to the full original YouTube video, making it easy for Shorts viewers to interact with longer videos on your channel. 

How to create YouTube Shorts from existing videos on desktop

While YouTube does allow video creators to repurpose their original videos into Shorts content without leaving the app, it isn’t always the most effective approach—especially if you plan to create several clips, use a desktop computer, or reuse each snippet on other social media platforms. That’s where Descript’s YouTube Shorts maker shines. 

Step 1. Import your video into Descript

Descript is a free video editor that includes premium features as standard. Create your free account, then download the Mac or Windows version. You can also open Descript in your browser if you’d prefer.

From there, launch Descript and press Create new video project in the top-right corner. Import your footage into the editor and wait a few seconds for the transcript to appear. This is how you’ll edit your video—similar to how you’d edit a Google Doc. 

⚡️ Pro tip: It’s much easier to repurpose content if you’ve already polished up the original video in Descript. So, before uploading your video to YouTube, use Descript’s AI features to remove unwanted background noise, add a transition, or fix audio mistakes with Overdub. You’ll then be repurposing a clean video, which significantly cuts down editing time when repurposing.

Step 2. Use Find Good Clips

Speaking of AI features, Find Good Clips is the tool you’ll need if you want to create YouTube Shorts from existing videos. In your video editor, head to AI Actions and choose Ask AI. Scroll down to the Find section and choose Find Good Clips.

The tool uses artificial intelligence to pick out the most interesting or engaging parts of your video. It’ll create a new video project for each snippet, ready for you to edit (without disrupting your original footage).

Image of Descript dashboard with Find good clips tool highlighted

Now’s also a good time to change the aspect ratio and size of your YouTube video. Traditional YouTube videos are landscape (16:9), whereas Shorts are vertical (9:16). Click the rectangular button in your video preview and choose one of the preformatted ratios for your new Shorts project.

🖼️ Still need help? How to make a horizontal video vertical to repurpose your best content

Selecting Portrait mode to resize video in Descript

Step 3. Export and upload Short

Happy with your clipped video? Click the Publish button and switch to the Export tab. From here, you can export your Short in YouTube’s preferred file format (MP4). 

Next, head back to your YouTube account and select the Shorts tab. Select the video file from your media library, optimize it with an engaging video title and caption, then press Publish to share it with your audience. 

4 tips to make Shorts from existing YouTube videos

Check the loop

YouTube Shorts automatically restarts a video once you’ve reached the end. Before you upload your repurposed clip to the platform, check that this loop makes sense. You don’t want to cut yourself off or talk about something wildly different at the start or end of your video. When someone watches the Short and the video loops back around to the beginning, it should make logical sense and appear like a seamless transition. The more seamless, the longer people will watch, and the more YouTube will serve your video to new viewers.

📹 Start shopping: The best AI video creation tools for YouTubers

Start with a strong hook

Short-form video sharing sites are driving down our attention spans. On YouTube in particular, viewers decide whether to continue watching your videos within just a few seconds. A strong hook is what convinces them to stick around. Only then can you turn them into loyal fans, subscribers, or buyers of your product. 

Play around with your repurposed clip to find the most engaging hook. You could use Descript to stitch together the intro from your original YouTube video with the clipped section, or cut to a piece of footage where you say something powerful, entertaining, or scroll-stopping. Another option is to treat your Short as the teaser for your main video.

Here’s a great example from creator Maria Foleo who starts the YouTube Short with a short and snappy statement:

Encourage people to subscribe to your YouTube channel

Some video creators find it more difficult to get YouTube subscribers from their Shorts. It makes sense—there is no obvious subscribe button like you’d see beneath a traditional video. Instead, you have to make it obvious that your channel exists and it’d be a smart decision for your audience to subscribe. 

This doesn’t have to be anything complicated. You could end your video with a three second clip of you saying “if you like this video, subscribe.” Or design an end card in Canva that shows a subscribe button and stitch it to the end of your clip. 

Optimize your video using keywords and hashtags

The YouTube algorithm matches short-form clips with people most likely to interact with them. One way to prove that your content is relevant to your target audience is to use keywords and hashtags that they’d use. If your audience are beauty enthusiasts, for example, you could use hashtags like #skincareroutine or #beautytips in your video caption to increase the odds of YouTube showing your Short to that audience. 

⚡️ Pro tip: Need help writing engaging captions? Social Post Writer, an AI-powered feature in Descript, takes the task off your plate. It’ll scan your video and summarize it into a caption that you can copy and paste into YouTube.

Image of Descript’s social post writer tool in action

Create YouTube Shorts from existing videos FAQs

How do I upload a premade video as YouTube Shorts?

  1. Upload your video to YouTube
  2. Find the video’s watch page
  3. Choose Remix
  4. Select Edit into a Short
  5. Trim and customize your video
  6. Upload it to YouTube Shorts 

How do I make YouTube Shorts from an existing video with AI?

  1. Create a free Descript account
  2. Import your video 
  3. Use the AI feature Find Good Clips
  4. Export the clipped videos as an MP4
  5. Upload your video to YouTube Shorts 

Is there a free clipping tool to repurpose video content?

Descript’s free clipping tool allows you to repurpose long-form videos into shorter clips. It uses AI to find the most engaging parts of your video, then opens them in a new project to edit and export. They make for great YouTube Shorts, TikTok videos, or Instagram Reels.

Elise Dopson
Elise Dopson is a freelance writer, creator, and fierce Descript user. She's also the co-founder of Peak Freelance.
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How to create YouTube Shorts from existing video: A beginner’s guide

Short-form video content is dominating social media. TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook have all announced new features that encourage users to create short videos on their social media platforms. Even YouTube, the search engine/social media hybrid, is getting in on the action. 

YouTube Shorts is the platform’s way of allowing creators to post shorter clips on YouTube. They’re limited to 60 seconds in length, are vertical (instead of horizontal), and appear in the Shorts feed—a never-ending carousel of videos posted by other creators. 

While it might feel like yet another platform demanding even more new content, the reality is: you can create YouTube Shorts from the videos you’ve already produced. This step-by-step guide shares how to do it, complete with bonus tips on repurposing clips to produce content that attracts and engages your target audience. 

Why turn YouTube videos into Shorts?

Reach a wider audience

There’s one key difference between traditional YouTube videos and Shorts: the people who watch traditional long-form videos likely search for them, but when they head to Shorts, they’re relying on the algorithm to show videos they’d be interested in—without any prompts in the form of a YouTube search. 

This gives you a shot at reaching new audiences who aren’t actively looking for what you provide, but could be swayed in the direction of your business’s YouTube channel.

Get more mileage from your content

You’ve already put the hard work into creating a YouTube video. Repurposing what you already have prevents you from starting the entire process all over again to produce new content. You’re just clipping the video you’ve already made and have a bunch of new footage to share on YouTube. 

🎙 Repurposing a podcast? Here's how to optimize your podcast for YouTube 

Repurpose your video clips 

While you can use YouTube’s repurposing feature to turn videos into YouTube Shorts, you don’t have to limit your video clip to the platform. Choose a different tool (such as Descript’s video editor) to save the snippet. From there, you can upload it to other social media platforms where short-form videos thrive, such as TikTok, Instagram Reels, or Facebook. 

Just like that, you’ve got enough content to power your social media accounts for a few weeks—all from a single YouTube video. 

How to make a YouTube Short from an existing video on mobile

Step 1. Create and upload your video

The first step is to produce your video and upload it to your YouTube channel. The best videos have a strong hook, focus on a topic that your target audience is interested in, and are easy to follow. A good script—which can simply be a list of talking points—is a great tool to have at this stage.

Use a professional video editor to add the final touches to your YouTube video, such as captions and subtitles, transitions, overlays, or special effects. When you’re happy, head to the YouTube homepage, sign into YouTube Studio, and upload the video to your channel. 

Step 2. Find the existing video

Now that your video has been uploaded, go to your YouTube channel and open the video player. Bear in mind that you can only create a Short from an existing video using your smartphone (such as an Android or iPhone) or iPad—not a desktop. For instructions on how to do this with a desktop, scroll down to the next section.

Step 3. Choose Create or Remix

Once you’ve located your video in the YouTube mobile app, choose the Remix button. This may appear as a Create button, depending on the device and YouTube app you’re using. From here, select Edit into a Short.

User creating a YouTube Short from YouTube dashboard


Step 4. Trim and edit your video clip

YouTube will now open its Shorts editor. Use the sliders to define which section of the video you want to repurpose, then add stickers, captions, or transitions to the new clip. 

You can also use this video editing tool to shoot or import new footage. If you’re trimming a YouTube video about skincare and want to laser focus on a specific step in your Short, for example, you could add B-roll footage to show yourself applying your favorite face cream. 

Step 5. Upload it as a YouTube Short

When you’re happy with your clip, press Publish to upload it as a YouTube Short. Any clips made using this method will link back to the full original YouTube video, making it easy for Shorts viewers to interact with longer videos on your channel. 

How to create YouTube Shorts from existing videos on desktop

While YouTube does allow video creators to repurpose their original videos into Shorts content without leaving the app, it isn’t always the most effective approach—especially if you plan to create several clips, use a desktop computer, or reuse each snippet on other social media platforms. That’s where Descript’s YouTube Shorts maker shines. 

Step 1. Import your video into Descript

Descript is a free video editor that includes premium features as standard. Create your free account, then download the Mac or Windows version. You can also open Descript in your browser if you’d prefer.

From there, launch Descript and press Create new video project in the top-right corner. Import your footage into the editor and wait a few seconds for the transcript to appear. This is how you’ll edit your video—similar to how you’d edit a Google Doc. 

⚡️ Pro tip: It’s much easier to repurpose content if you’ve already polished up the original video in Descript. So, before uploading your video to YouTube, use Descript’s AI features to remove unwanted background noise, add a transition, or fix audio mistakes with Overdub. You’ll then be repurposing a clean video, which significantly cuts down editing time when repurposing.

Step 2. Use Find Good Clips

Speaking of AI features, Find Good Clips is the tool you’ll need if you want to create YouTube Shorts from existing videos. In your video editor, head to AI Actions and choose Ask AI. Scroll down to the Find section and choose Find Good Clips.

The tool uses artificial intelligence to pick out the most interesting or engaging parts of your video. It’ll create a new video project for each snippet, ready for you to edit (without disrupting your original footage).

Image of Descript dashboard with Find good clips tool highlighted

Now’s also a good time to change the aspect ratio and size of your YouTube video. Traditional YouTube videos are landscape (16:9), whereas Shorts are vertical (9:16). Click the rectangular button in your video preview and choose one of the preformatted ratios for your new Shorts project.

🖼️ Still need help? How to make a horizontal video vertical to repurpose your best content

Selecting Portrait mode to resize video in Descript

Step 3. Export and upload Short

Happy with your clipped video? Click the Publish button and switch to the Export tab. From here, you can export your Short in YouTube’s preferred file format (MP4). 

Next, head back to your YouTube account and select the Shorts tab. Select the video file from your media library, optimize it with an engaging video title and caption, then press Publish to share it with your audience. 

4 tips to make Shorts from existing YouTube videos

Check the loop

YouTube Shorts automatically restarts a video once you’ve reached the end. Before you upload your repurposed clip to the platform, check that this loop makes sense. You don’t want to cut yourself off or talk about something wildly different at the start or end of your video. When someone watches the Short and the video loops back around to the beginning, it should make logical sense and appear like a seamless transition. The more seamless, the longer people will watch, and the more YouTube will serve your video to new viewers.

📹 Start shopping: The best AI video creation tools for YouTubers

Start with a strong hook

Short-form video sharing sites are driving down our attention spans. On YouTube in particular, viewers decide whether to continue watching your videos within just a few seconds. A strong hook is what convinces them to stick around. Only then can you turn them into loyal fans, subscribers, or buyers of your product. 

Play around with your repurposed clip to find the most engaging hook. You could use Descript to stitch together the intro from your original YouTube video with the clipped section, or cut to a piece of footage where you say something powerful, entertaining, or scroll-stopping. Another option is to treat your Short as the teaser for your main video.

Here’s a great example from creator Maria Foleo who starts the YouTube Short with a short and snappy statement:

Encourage people to subscribe to your YouTube channel

Some video creators find it more difficult to get YouTube subscribers from their Shorts. It makes sense—there is no obvious subscribe button like you’d see beneath a traditional video. Instead, you have to make it obvious that your channel exists and it’d be a smart decision for your audience to subscribe. 

This doesn’t have to be anything complicated. You could end your video with a three second clip of you saying “if you like this video, subscribe.” Or design an end card in Canva that shows a subscribe button and stitch it to the end of your clip. 

Optimize your video using keywords and hashtags

The YouTube algorithm matches short-form clips with people most likely to interact with them. One way to prove that your content is relevant to your target audience is to use keywords and hashtags that they’d use. If your audience are beauty enthusiasts, for example, you could use hashtags like #skincareroutine or #beautytips in your video caption to increase the odds of YouTube showing your Short to that audience. 

⚡️ Pro tip: Need help writing engaging captions? Social Post Writer, an AI-powered feature in Descript, takes the task off your plate. It’ll scan your video and summarize it into a caption that you can copy and paste into YouTube.

Image of Descript’s social post writer tool in action

Create YouTube Shorts from existing videos FAQs

How do I upload a premade video as YouTube Shorts?

  1. Upload your video to YouTube
  2. Find the video’s watch page
  3. Choose Remix
  4. Select Edit into a Short
  5. Trim and customize your video
  6. Upload it to YouTube Shorts 

How do I make YouTube Shorts from an existing video with AI?

  1. Create a free Descript account
  2. Import your video 
  3. Use the AI feature Find Good Clips
  4. Export the clipped videos as an MP4
  5. Upload your video to YouTube Shorts 

Is there a free clipping tool to repurpose video content?

Descript’s free clipping tool allows you to repurpose long-form videos into shorter clips. It uses AI to find the most engaging parts of your video, then opens them in a new project to edit and export. They make for great YouTube Shorts, TikTok videos, or Instagram Reels.

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