How to Share and Watch Private YouTube Videos

Key Takeaways

  • You can privately share videos on YouTube for free by uploading them, setting them to private, and adding the email addresses of the recipients.
  • To watch a private YouTube video, open the email notification and click on the image to access it.
  • While Google Drive is a superior option for hosting videos to privately share, private sharing on YouTube is free and easily controlled.

When most people think of options for sharing videos privately, they typically think of storage solutions like Google Drive. However, did you know you can privately share videos on YouTube for free? Moreover, you can do so without any risk of any unwanted recipients seeing them.

The directions and screenshots in this tutorial apply to uploading videos via a web browser on desktop, but the same steps will apply on mobile too, albeit with different locations for each setting.

1. Upload Your Video to YouTube


First, upload your video to YouTube by going to the top-right corner of any YouTube page and selecting the Camera icon. Then, click Upload Video and select or drag and drop your file. Adjust your video’s description, tags, and other settings as desired.

2. Set the Video to Private

YouTube private visibility setting

To make your video private, select the Visibility drop-down menu on the right side of the screen. Under the Save or publish menu, select Private.

3. Add the Email Addresses of the Recipients

YouTube private video being shared with a specific email address

Once your video has been set to private, you’ll see a blue prompt below the setting to Share Privately. Click on it and add the email addresses of all desired recipients.

Click Done, and you should see the recipient email addresses under the Private setting. Hit Save to confirm all your settings and privately share the video.

The video will only be visible to the listed private recipients. Specifically, these recipients must be logged into YouTube using the specific email addresses listed in your Share Privately list.

How to Open and Watch a Private YouTube Video

If someone sends you a private YouTube video, how do you access it? First, make sure they send it to the correct email address. You should see an email like the image below in your inbox.

Email inbox showing the email you'd receive when a private youtube video is shared with you

Open that email, and you’ll see a message like the screenshot below.

YouTube private video being shared via email

If you think you should have received an email but can’t find it, be sure to check your Spam, Trash, and Archive sections. Additionally, try using the search bar in your email client; simply searching for YouTube should suffice.

Click the image in the body of the email to access the private video. If everything has functioned properly, you should be able to watch the video on YouTube. Notice in the screenshot below that comments are disabled because the video is private.

What viewing a private YouTube video looks like on desktop

This method is a bit tedious for both the uploader and the recipient, but it ensures privacy, as only permitted email addresses can access the video.

While you might consider making your video unlisted for easier link sharing, anyone with the link can continue sharing it with unintended recipients, making private sharing the most secure.

When Cloud File Sharing Is Superior

Google Drive or another dedicated file hosting platform is the highest quality way to host videos to privately share, and it is quite convenient with features like creating direct links to access files. On Drive, recipients will have access to the original uncompressed file, whereas YouTube typically compresses it for better streaming playback.

That said, uncompressed video files are large, and most people will quickly fill up the 15 GB of free storage on their drive and require extra paid storage. If you do use Google Drive to share uncompressed videos, make sure you know exactly who has access to your Google Drive files as well.

However, of the options available for sharing videos on a small scale, private sharing on YouTube is sufficient for most, as it’s completely free and easily controlled. Whereas sharing through Google Drive is best for maintaining uncompressed file quality.

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