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A Guide to Uploading Videos on YouTube

Matthew is a studio musician from south Texas. In addition to original recordings, he has provided music for short films and commercials.


Basics: Length

YouTube has a generally user-friendly interface, but it helps to know a few key things. First is to understand some traits about the video that we're going to upload to YouTube. Before uploading, you should know the length, file size, and codec of the video.

With regards to length, the general cap for YouTube is 15 minutes. If your video is at or below this, you won't have any issues. However, if you are trying to upload a longer video, there are some additional steps that need to be taken.

First, go to This will take you to a setup page to increase your upload limit. You will be asked to verify your account by providing a phone number and receiving a verification code either by phone call or text message.

Once you're given the 6-digit verification code, enter it into the box and hit submit. As soon as this is done, presto! You will now be able to upload videos that max at either 128GB or 12 hours, whichever comes first.


Basics: Compression

File size is the next thing to consider. As stated before, once verified, you can upload file sizes up to 128GB. However, it is important to take into consideration the relation of file size to the length.

A well compressed video that's five minutes or so long shouldn't take more than a few hundred megabytes. If you have a shorter video that is several gigs, it is filled with too much information and needs compression.

Video compressors are widely available in app stores. They are relatively simple to use. A truly versatile program capable of compressing and changing codecs is Handbrake. However, there are a myriad of other compressing options.

How to Compress a Video Without Losing Quality

Basics: Codec

A codec refers to the digital wrapper a video file is encompassed within. It's short for coder-decoder and serves to compress the video, but increases the processing power needed to play it.

Codecs can be either lossless or lossy. When a codec is lossless, this means that it will not degrade or take away from the image quality of the video file. They can often reduce the file size by 50% with no loss to quality.

A common lossless codec is H.264, and this is also the preferred codec for YouTube. However, it is by no means the only accepted codec, as YouTube accepts almost all codecs.

A big thing to consider, however, is if the codec your video is lossless or lossy. Lossy codecs will degrade the image for a smaller file size, and the effects of this can make your video look awful. MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 are lossy codecs, so when uploading to YouTube, make sure that your codec is preferably H.264 or another lossless codec.

Programs such as Handbrake allow users to seamlessly transition one codec file to another, so if you have a camera or editing software that doesn't produce the desired codecs, you can use Handbrake to switch it to the one you need.


Uploading From a PC

So now that we have the basics covered, let's get into uploading! If you're on a PC, the first step is to visit the YouTube homepage and login. Once this is finished, go to the top-right corner of the screen and select the camera icon.


A submenu will then drop down asking if you want to either upload a video or stream live.


We won't be focusing on live streaming in this guide, so select Upload Video. This will bring us to the file upload screen, which looks like this.


From here select the file to upload by dragging the mouse cursor over the giant arrow in the gray box. The gray box will turn red when it becomes clickable. This will bring up a file selector window. From here, select the desired video to upload.


This next page is our upload progress page. The light blue bar running across the top shows us the progress of the video as it uploads. If you have a secure and fast connection, it should upload rather quickly. Longer videos, of course, will take longer to complete.

Beneath this bar is the Basic Info tab, where we can give our video a title, description, and tags. The first blank box is where the title goes. Be sure to select a unique, snappy title that isn't too long. This will help its search results.

Underneath the title box is a bigger box for the description. Here you should give a brief rundown of the contents and background of the video. Be sure not to spoil anything!

The last blank box is for tags. Tags are short phrases that associate our video with an appropriate topic or labeling. For optimal search results, use as many tags that apply! For example, if you had a guitar instructional video, some tags would be guitar, music, instruction, instruments, etc. However, please avoid tags that do not pertain to your video's subject.

Once all of these steps are complete and the progress bar has completed, it's time to double check everything. Make sure the title is correct, the description has no errors, and the tags are appropriate. After doing this, it's time to hit the Publish button next to the progress bar!


Uploading From a Smart Phone

YouTube also offers direct upload from smart devices. For Android users, you're in luck. Since Google owns Android and YouTube, there is an option to upload direct to YouTube from the Gallery app!

Simply select the video from the Gallery, then touch the Share button, and then finally select YouTube from the menu. This will take you to the page to give a title, describe, and tag your video.

For iPhone users, there are a few extra steps, but it is still a fairly simple process. First, open up the YouTube app. Next, select the camera icon at the top-right hand of the screen.


After selecting Upload Video, you will be taken to a screen that displays all videos available on your device. There is also the option to record a video on the fly, and to stream live.


From here, select the video to upload. You will be taken to a brief editing page if you want to trim the video. Once you've made any desired changes here, select Next in the top-right hand corner of the screen.


This will take you to the page where you can upload, title, describe, and tag your video. Don't forget to fill each of these out! Once the progress bar is complete, voila! Your video will be uploaded and ready to go!


Matthew Scherer (author) from Corpus Christi on May 24, 2019:

Thanks for your kind comment! I hope this guide will prove useful when you do!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 23, 2019:

This is a useful article. I haven't yet uploaded a video to YouTube, but I've been thinking about it. I'll read your article again if I decide to go ahead with my plan. Thanks for sharing the information, Matthew.