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What Are Unlisted Videos on YouTube?

Published August 11, 2023

Having become the number one platform for uploading video content, YouTube has perfected its sharing features, giving creators more flexibility and security than ever. Instead of automatically making your video public, YouTube offers three privacy settings: Private, Unlisted, and Public.

Public vs. Private vs. Unlisted: Key Differences

Though most people understand the difference between private and public videos, the unlisted setting is frequently confusing. Isn’t this setting the same as Private? And if not, what exactly does it entail? We’ll answer all these questions by comparing the three privacy settings in more detail.

Public Videos

When you upload a video to your YouTube channel, its default setting will be Public. That means the video will be discoverable through search, available on your channel, and shareable. In other words, once your video is published, you have no control over who sees it and where it might be featured.

The Public setting has certain advantages. For instance, you could use it to:

  • Attract a wider audience and grow your subscriber count;
  • Kickstart your career on YouTube;
  • Through a YouTube partnership program or sponsorships.

However, there is a flip side, mainly due to the lack of control over your own video. After all, when you post your content for everyone to see, you may experience the following:

  • Receiving negative and troll comments;
  • Jeopardizing your future career prospects if your video is controversial in any way;
  • Being unable to entirely delete the video from the Internet — there’s always a chance someone saves and reuploads it.

Despite these concerns, the advantages of posting public videos far outweigh the downsides, especially if you’re hoping to grow your channel. Still, having thick skin doesn’t hurt!

Private Videos

On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have videos set to Private — the most secure setting on YouTube that limits your video’s visibility almost entirely. These videos don’t appear in search, recommended, or anywhere on your channel and can’t be shared via a link. In fact, only up to fifty people you manually invite have access to the video in question.

Obviously, setting a video to Private eliminates all possibilities of negative feedback, controversy, or unregulated reuploading. On top of that, this type of video is ideal for:

  • Clips you only want to share with your family and friends;
  • Videos intended for your company’s internal use (if there are less than 50 employees);
  • Clearing out your phone’s storage without losing valuable content entirely.

However, if your goal is gaining subscribers and growing your channel, private videos certainly won’t be of much help.

Unlisted Videos

If both Public and Private settings are too extreme for you, you can opt for the best of both worlds and set your videos to Unlisted. With this setting, your content won’t appear in search results or on your channel, but it will remain accessible through a link. This link can be shared even without your knowledge, but the video will still have a narrower outreach compared to public content.

Unlisting videos is a pretty common practice on YouTube — all big YouTubers go through their content periodically, removing from public view videos that no longer reflect them. Aside from that, here are a few other benefits the Unlisted setting may provide:

  • May be beneficial for a company’s internal use when there are over 50 employees;
  • Could be valuable for testing feedback to a potentially public video;
  • Allows you to organize your YouTube channel better, removing old and irrelevant videos.

However, keep in mind that your control over an unlisted video isn’t absolute. For one, unlisted videos can still be shared on other platforms, potentially even the one dedicated specifically to such content. In addition, if another user puts your unlisted video into a public playlist, it becomes visible to everyone.

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Written By:
Jessica is a writer who specializes in social media, marketing, and digital strategy. She is a graduate of Antioch College and earned her MBA at Boston College’s Carroll Graduate School of Management, specializing in STEM Management. Her work has been published in numerous academic journals and mainstream publications. She lives in New England with her husband, two children, and three dogs.
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