How to Share a Link to a Specific Time in a YouTube Video

Link to the important part of a video to cut right to the chase

Did you know that you can link to a specific time in a YouTube video? This is a great trick for when you just want to show a specific segment of a video — especially if the video is quite long and the segment that you want to share comes several minutes after it starts playing.

These instructions apply to both desktop and mobile users.

How to Create a Link to a Specific Time in Three Easy Steps

It's very easy to link to the exact part of any YouTube video. Go to YouTube.com on a desktop browser, and then follow the instructions below.

  1. Click SHARE directly beneath the video.

    YouTube video with Share Option highlighted
  2. In the pop-up box, check the box next to Start at.

    Selecting the start time for a YouTube video
  3. Enter the time you want the video to start at. The correct time might already be listed there if you pressed the share button at the exact moment you want the video to start.

  4. Press COPY to copy the timestamped URL.You might notice that the link changed to include some extra characters. These extra characters are used to tell YouTube to link to the specific time that you set for it.

    The Copy button on the YouTube Share screen
  5. Paste the link wherever you want or select any of the social share buttons to share it. Anyone who opens your link will begin watching the video at the time you specified.

Sharing a Link to a Specific Time in a YouTube Video on Mobile

On the official YouTube mobile app for both iOS and Android devices, you might notice that there's a share button that allows you to copy the video link and share it to social apps, but no Start at check box or field. Unfortunately, this feature is only available when you watch a YouTube video from a web browser.

So if you want to link to a specific time in a YouTube video while using your smartphone, you have a couple of options:

  • Open the video from your browser app, like Chrome, and change the browser's settings so that it loads YouTube's desktop site rather than its mobile version (choose Desktop site from Chrome's menu). Then, follow the steps as they're listed above to create the timestamped URL.
  • Link to a specific time by manually creating a timestamp.

Linking to a Specific Time in a YouTube Video by Creating a Time Stamp

You can manually link to a specific time in a video by adding ?t=00m00s to the end of a short YouTube link. For longer URLs that already have a question mark in the URL, add an ampersand (&): &t=42s.

You replace 00m with the minute marker and replace the 00s with the second marker.

If the video is short enough that it doesn't go for longer than a minute, you can leave the "00m" portion out of it. For example, the link https://youtu.be/dQw4w9WgXcQ turns into https://youtu.be/dQw4w9WgXcQ?t=42s once we've added our time marker for it to start at 42 seconds in.

For long videos, hours are supported, too, via 00h. For example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZZ7oFKsKzY&t=8h10s (Beware, this links to a Nyan Cat video.)

YouTube makes it fast and simple enough that you shouldn't have to do this manually at all, but there's no harm in learning anyway. Knowing how this works manually also gives you a better understanding of what those extra characters mean.

Person creating a link for a specific time in a YouTube video
Theresa Chiechi / Lifewire

Why Linking to a Specific Time Matters

Internet users have extremely short attention spans, so forcing someone to sit through even a 4- or 5-minute video where the best portion doesn't start until the halfway mark can be enough to make them give up and impatiently close the video out of frustration.

YouTube hosts thousands and thousands of amazing videos worth sharing that can be several minutes long and run up to over an hour. If you're sharing a video of an hour-long public speaking presentation on Facebook, your friends will probably appreciate the fact that you linked to the exact specific time in the video where the speaking focuses on a relevant topic they might be interested in. 

More people are watching YouTube from their mobile device now more than ever (which largely explains the shorter attention spans). They don't have time to sit through a long introduction and other irrelevant bits before getting to the good stuff.

When you decide to share a video at a specific time, viewers can always restart the video if they want to watch the entire thing in full, so you're not doing anyone a disservice by linking to a relevant point. The YouTube video player starts buffering and playing at the time that you set without any modification to the video.