How to Upload a Video to YouTube

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Getting a video onto YouTube can be a more daunting task for some than simply pushing a few buttons and waiting for the upload to finish. There are tons of factors to consider in terms of file format, size, aspect ratio, and more. YouTube does layout some instructions, but they’re very much a rabbit hole that requires a fair amount of Googling and digging around before some key questions can be answered. That being so, we’re happy to shorten the process and provide a one-stop shop for everything you need to know to get your video up and running!

1. Ensuring the proper format

In terms of your video files, YouTube accepts the following formats:

  • .MOV
  • .MPEG4
  • MP4
  • .AVI
  • .WMV
  • .FLV
  • 3GPP
  • WebM

Anything else will likely get you an “invalid file format” error message. If your video is stuck in a non-supported format, you’re not completely out of luck. Over at CNET, you can grab the Wise Video Converter to change it over. For anything under 30 minutes long, it’s free, while going over 30 minutes will run you a $29.95 one-time purchase.

2. Miscellaneous cleaning up to do before uploading

Before you throw your video into the uploader, it’s important to ensure everything is copacetic. First off, do not mess with the frame rate. YouTube’s advanced encoding settings specifically state that all content “should be encoded and uploaded in the same frame rate it was recorded” (standard rates you may recognize are 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, and 60 frames per second). All this requires you to do is not make any changes to the frame rate when editing your video.

Second, it’s key that you know what the aspect ratio of your video is (usually it’s either 16:9 or 4:3). For anything that’s the standard 16:9 HD, everything will end up the way it looks on your native video player. Upload a 4:3 video though and YouTube will add black bars to the left and right to adjust for the format. Know that this is standard, and ensures that nothing gets stretched and blurred in the upload process. Do not add letterbox bars of your own before uploading, otherwise YouTube will still add their own, making for a messy final video.

3. Uploading the video

Once you’ve created/logged in to your YouTube/Google account, all you have to do to start the process is click “Upload,” in the upper right of the page.

Source: YouTube

Source: YouTube

Then choose the privacy setting based on your own preference; your options here are “public,” “private,” and “unlisted.” An “unlisted” video will give you a shareable link to use, but the video itself won’t show up in search results or in your personal channel.


Source: YouTube

Next, select the video from your hard drive you wish to upload. From there, the process is fairly simple. While you wait for the upload to complete, you’ll have the chance to edit information like the title, description, and various advanced settings.


Source: YouTube

Once it’s done, click “publish” if you’d like your video to not fall under the “private” or “unlisted” category.

For anything under the latter two options, click “done” instead. If you don’t choose to publish it at this time, you’ll still be allowed the option to do so later in your personal video manager. Once the process is complete, you’ll get an email from YouTube notifying you that everything is finished.

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