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

An image of a YouTube video playing on a tablet.

Photo © EricVega / Getty Images

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.

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

A screenshot of the Share tab on a YouTube video.
The Share tab on a YouTube video.

It's very easy to link to the exact part of any YouTube video. On the desktop web at YouTube.com, follow these three simple steps:

  1. Click the Share button directly beneath the video.

  2. In the popup box, look for the Start at checkbox at the very bottom of the box and click to check it off.

  3. Make sure the time in the Start at field is set to the exact time you want to link to in the video. You can set the video to the exact time you want and then follow the above steps again so the Start at time is set to the time on the video by default or alternatively type the time into the field yourself.

  4. Click the Copy button that appears to the right of the URL above the Start at checkbox. You might notice that the link in the field above has changed and includes some extra characters. These extra characters are used to tell YouTube to link to the specific time that you set for it.

  5. Paste the link wherever you want or click any of the social share buttons to share it. Anyone who clicks on the link to watch it will only be shown the footage starting from the time that you set.

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

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 checkbox 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 the app, you have a couple of options:

  1. Open the video in a mobile web browser to get the Start at checkbox. Tap Share > Copy link and then open your mobile web browser to paste the link into the URL field. Then follow the exact steps listed above to link to a specific time.

  2. Link to a specific time by manually creating a time stamp.

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 any regular YouTube link. You simply 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.

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.

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 too soon out of frustration.

YouTube also 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 a long, 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 starts to really focus on a relevant topic they might be interested in. 

Lastly, 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 really want to watch the entire thing in full, so you're not at all doing anyone a disservice by linking to a more relevant point. The YouTube video player simply starts buffering and playing at the time that you set without any modification to the video at all.

Article updated by: Elise Moreau