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Unlisted vs Private YouTube Videos: The 2024 Complete Guide
June 13th, 2023 by Terri Pinyerd

YouTube videos have three available privacy settings that creators can choose from: public, private, and unlisted. The privacy type can be set at the time of publication and can also be edited after the video has already gone up.


Note: These visibility settings also apply to YouTube playlists and can be adjusted after the playlist has been published.


Below, we'll break down each privacy setting.


Unlisted Video


An unlisted YouTube video is one that anyone with a link can view.


An unlisted YouTube video will not appear on your channel.


While an unlisted video will not appear in the search results by default, anyone who clicks on the shared link will still be able to access, watch, and engage with the video.


If an unlisted video is part of another user's playlist, they will still be able to watch it and it will appear in YouTube's search results as part of that playlist.


Private Video


Private videos are videos that only the uploader can view, as well as a select number of users chosen by the uploader. Private videos will not appear on your YouTube channel.


Oftentimes creators will make YouTube videos private when they've made an editing mistake and need to reupload.


If an uninvited user attempts to visit the video, they will receive an error page.


This includes users who have added the video to a playlist. When viewed from the playlist, a private YouTube video will be skipped and will often be hidden from the playlist or will appear as an errored thumbnail.


If the account owner is under 18, videos will be set to Private by default. Only users aged 18+ can adjust their visibility settings to Public or Unlisted.


Note: Comments are not allowed on Private videos. If you want to allow comments, the video needs to be Unlisted or Public.


How to share a private video:

  1. Sign in to YouTube Studio

  2. From the left menu, select Content.

  3. Click the video you'd like to edit.

  4. Click the Visibility box and select Share privately.

  5. Enter the emails you'd like to share your video with, then select SAVE.


Public Video


Chances are, you've come across Public videos on YouTube more often than any other type. These are videos that anyone can access, unless the video has age or country restrictions.

Public videos will appear on your YouTube channel.


If a video is set to Public, users can search for it within YouTube and from search engines. The exact rank within the search results will depend on the video in question, but the potential for visibility is there.


Users can also share the video with anyone using the video URL either directly from their address bar or the Share feature on the bottom right of the video.


Public videos have individual permissions that can be adjusted, such as disabling comments, but for now we'll focus on the general visibility settings.


How To Set A YouTube Video As Unlisted


how to set a youtube video as unlisted


You can set a YouTube video's visibility to Unlisted either before publishing or after publishing.


Once the video is set to Unlisted, you can return it to Public or opt for Private if it suits your needs better.


Via Desktop


To set a video as unlisted from the desktop site:

  1. Sign in to YouTube Studio

  2. From the left menu, select Content.

  3. Point to the video you'd like to update.

  4. To see your live uploads, select the Live tab.

  5. Click the down arrow under "Visibility" and choose Unlisted.

  6. Save.


Via Mobile


The following steps apply to both Android and iOs devices:

  1. Open the YouTube app

  2. Tap Library › Your videos

  3. Next to the video you want to change, tap More › Edit.

  4. Tap Visibility, and choose Unlisted.

  5. Tap SAVE.


When Should You Use the Unlisted Setting?


So now that you know what unlisted YouTube videos are, when should you use this setting?


  • For videos that you want to share with small groups (such as school or work projects)

  • For content that you want to test out with a smaller audience before making public

  • When you don't want the video to appear on your channel or search results.


If you're torn between setting your video to private vs. unlisted, consider whether you want to share the content with others. If the answer is no, private YouTube videos are the way to go.



Benefits And Limitations Of Unlisted YouTube Videos


youtube homepage as seen on a computer screen


Unlisted videos on YouTube offer a level of privacy that sits between public and private settings.


The major advantage is accessibility without public visibility. Anyone with the link can view the video without needing to be logged into a YouTube account. This makes unlisted videos an excellent tool for sharing content with specific audiences without making the content available to the entire internet.


However, unlisted videos are not completely private. If the link is shared, the video can potentially be viewed by unintended audiences.


It's also important to keep in mind that unlisted videos don't appear in YouTube's search results, your channel's video tab, subscriber feeds, or recommendations, which limits their discoverability. This setting is less ideal if your aim is to grow your subscriber base or reach a wide audience.


Protecting Your Unlisted Videos


side view of a woman with long brown hair typing on a laptop computer


While unlisted videos offer a level of privacy, it's crucial to ensure further protection.


Since anyone with the link can access your video, avoid sharing the link publicly or on social media unless you're comfortable with the video being widely accessible. If you need to share a video with a large group, consider creating a private YouTube channel or playlist instead.


Don't forget to regularly review who has access to your unlisted videos! If you suspect a link has been shared with unintended parties, you can change the video's status to private or delete and re-upload the video with a new link.


Note: Unlisted videos can be flagged by viewers for content violations, so ensure your video adheres to YouTube's community guidelines even if it's unlisted.


Frequently Asked Questions


What is an unlisted video on YouTube?

An unlisted video is a type of video that doesn't appear in YouTube's search results unless someone has the video link.

Who can see my unlisted videos on YouTube?

Anyone with the link can view an unlisted video. It's not displayed publicly on your YouTube channel or in search results.

How can I share my unlisted YouTube video?

You can share an unlisted video by providing others with the video URL.


Can unlisted videos be found in search results?

No, unlisted videos do not appear in YouTube's search results or in Google search results.

Do views on unlisted videos count towards total YouTube views?

No, views on unlisted or private videos do not count towards the total view count or towards your channel's watch hour count.


While views on unlisted videos will register as views for that specific video, they do not count towards your overall channel count.

Can unlisted videos be monetized?

Yes, unlisted videos can be monetized. However, public videos may receive more views and engagement and therefore result in more revenue.

How do I change my video from Public or Private to Unlisted?

You can change the privacy setting of your video in the "Visibility" section when uploading or editing the video on YouTube. View our step-by-step instructions here.

Can people comment on unlisted videos?

Yes, people can comment on unlisted videos if the owner has not disabled the comments.

Are unlisted videos included in my YouTube channel's video count?

No, unlisted videos are not included in the public video count displayed on your channel.

Can I change my unlisted video to public or private in the future?

Yes, you can change the privacy setting of your video at any time.

Will my subscribers be notified when I upload an unlisted video?

No, subscribers aren't notified about unlisted videos. They only receive notifications for public videos.


Can an unlisted video become viral?

It's less likely, as unlisted videos don't show up in search results or recommended videos. However, if the link is shared widely and viewed by many people, it could still garner a lot of views.

Is there a limit to the number of unlisted videos I can have on my YouTube channel?

There is currently no limit to the number of unlisted videos a YouTube channel can have.

Can I add unlisted videos to a public playlist?

Yes, you can add unlisted videos to a public playlist. However, keep in mind that the videos will then be viewable to anyone with access to the playlist and will appear in the search results within that playlist.

What happens if I share a link to an unlisted video, then change it to private?

If you change an unlisted video to private after sharing the link, people who have the link will no longer be able to view the video unless they are specifically granted access. The link will lead them to an error page while the video is set to private.


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