How to upload a video to YouTube: guide and tips

Old-fashioned computer with YouTube logo on the screen with a film spool attached

You’ve made your video, you’ve edited your video, you’ve taken a restorative nap, and now all that’s left to do is upload it to YouTube. Whether you use your smartphone or your desktop, the platform has made it simpler than ever to upload videos. Below we run down what you need to know about how to upload a video to YouTube, plus some tips for making sure people can find your video once it’s published.

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How to upload a video to YouTube in 5 easy steps

You can upload videos to YouTube straight from your desktop using our handy step-by-step guide:

  1. Select your video. Go to or and enter your login credentials. Look for the “Create” button (it appears as a “+” inside of a camera) at the top right corner of your screen. Click it and a drop-down menu will give you the option to upload a video or go live. Select “Upload a video,” then browse through your library to choose the video you want to upload. You can also drag and drop a video over from your desktop.
  2. Fill in the details. On the details screen, you can add a title and description, tags, or categories. You can also edit the thumbnail, add the video to a playlist, set an age restriction, or indicate paid promotions. Click the blue “NEXT” button on the bottom right when you’re ready to continue.
  3. Add more elements. On the video elements screen, you can add subtitles, an end screen, or include promotional cards that pop up during your video. You can use these cards to link to other relevant content you want viewers to check out.
  4. Pass the YouTube check. After you add all of your video elements, YouTube will check your video for copyright infringements and alert you to any potential issues.
  5. Adjust your settings and upload your video. Before you hit the upload button, you can adjust your privacy settings and control whether to make your video public to everyone, or only accessible to a select few (or no one — it’s your life). You can also set a later date for your video to auto-publish. When you’re ready, hit “SAVE.” Now your YouTube video is up and ready for views.

How to upload a video to YouTube from your phone

You can also upload follow these steps to upload YouTube videos directly from your mobile phone:

  1. Open the YouTube app. From your mobile device, open the YouTube app and log in to your YouTube channel account.
  2. Select your video type. Click on the big “+” sign at the bottom center of the screen. You’ll have an option to upload a video or create a short. To upload a video, click “Upload video,” then choose the video from your library and hit “Next.” Shorts are videos you can record through the app in clips up to 15 seconds long (for a total of 60 seconds maximum). To start recording a short, click “Create a short.” The app will then prompt you to add details, finish, and upload your short.
  3. Add descriptions. On the following screen, you can create your title, add a description, change the privacy settings, add a location, or add to a specific playlist. Select whether the video is appropriate for kids, then head to the bottom of the screen and tap upload to share your video with your audience.

6 tips to keep in mind before publishing a YouTube video

Before you publish your YouTube video, here are some tips to make sure your video is searchable and gets seen:

  1. Check the specs. YouTube only allows a maximum file size of 256GB and recommends users upload videos in an MP4 format and a 16:9 aspect ratio. These specs allow users to upload a high-quality video with a small video file size. Check that your video’s run time falls under the maximum length of 12 hours to prevent upload interruptions. You can use Descript’s editing software to trim your video length or make other cuts to reduce the overall file size. (Note, while MP4 is the most common format, YouTube also accepts other video formats including MOV, AVI, WMV, HEVC, and MPEG-PS.)
  2. Use keywords. The more people engage with your content, the more the YouTube algorithm favors you. But how do you get those people engaging in that content to begin with? Adding specific keywords can help the algorithm sort your place in the chaos, making sure your content shows up in the right categories — and for the right audiences. You can also use hashtags in your video descriptions, in the title, or right above the title. Both keywords and hashtags improve searchability, increasing the chance more people will stumble across your content.
  3. Add a title and descriptions. Always take time to fill out your video title and descriptions — they can make all the difference in how well your video is served according to the algorithm.
  4. Consider disabling comments. Not all videos were meant for everybody, and even the most harmless, fun content can be subject to trolls or mean comments. If you run a family- or kid-friendly channel, you might consider disabling comments so that you don’t have to worry about younger viewers coming across negativity when they watch the video.
  5. Use the right frame rate. YouTube supports frame rates, known as frames per second or FPS, between 24 and 60. For videos that require more movement or action, e.g. sports or gaming footage, a higher frame rate is recommended. 60 FPS usually means HD — at least 720p — and is much more effective at motion blur compared to lower frame rates.
  6. Check your connection. Use a wired connection or a strong Wi-Fi connection to seamlessly load your videos onto the platform. If your connection is too slow or gets interrupted, your upload may fail completely and you’ll have to restart the upload process.
  7. Follow the community guidelines. YouTube may remove videos from its platform if they contain hate speech, nudity, self-harm, violence, or copyright infringements. Make sure your video does not contain any content that could violate the terms of service and result in the removal of your video.

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